Study of a pair of gold earrings attributed to Late Bronze Age by SEM-EDS and optical microscopy

Elin Figueiredo, Rui J.C. Silva, Rui Borges, António M. Silva

aCENIMAT/I3N, Dep. of Materials Science, FCT, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Caparica, Portugal

bCentro de Arquelogio de Arouca, Aveiro, Portugal

Gold was one of the first metals to be used by mankind since its finding in nature, e.g. as alluvial gold nuggets, allowed its immediate recognition and use. The melt of numerous gold particles and subsequent casting allowed the manufacture of numerous solid gold objects. These objects were frequently ornamental objects, due to specific characteristics of this metal, such as its yellow high reflective colour, rareness/value, and high ductility.

In the present study a pair of gold earrings from a Late Bronze Age context found during archaeological excavations in São Julião (Aveiro) were studied by scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry (SEM-EDS) and optical microscopy to study surface heterogeneities and composition. Preliminary results indicate that the composition of the gold shows similarities with the composition of other gold earrings from same typology and chronology which were found in other Portuguese locations.