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Subject: Course on ancient metals

Course on ancient metals

From: David A. Scott <dascott>
Date: Saturday, March 24, 2007
Summer School in Ancient and Historic Metals: 2007
Held at UCLA: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology
13-18 August 2007

Course Aims: This six-day course will act both as an introduction
and a focus of more intensive study dealing with the examination,
analysis, metallographic examination and deterioration of ancient
and historic metals.  The course is designed to benefit
conservators, scientists  and archaeologists  who wish to learn how
to prepare metallic samples for metallographic study, learn
something of the technological  aspects of the working and structure
of metals, and how corrosion and patination can be discussed and

Artefacts for examination: Over the past 25 years an unrivalled
collection of mounted metallographic samples  has been assembled,
which are studied as part of the course practical work, involving
both polarized light microscopy and metallographic microscopy of
both freshly polished and etched samples. These samples range from
cast iron from China to wootz steel from India, bronze coinage
alloys from the Roman Empire to high-tin bronze from ancient
Thailand, silver alloys from the Parthian period to ancient Ecuador,
gilded copper and tumbaga from Peru and Colombia, to mention only a
few of the geographical areas covered by available samples. Course
participants will be instructed in the use of polishing and etching
in the examination of samples and are encouraged to keep digital
images of the samples they have prepared during the week.  Students
may also bring their own samples  for examination if mounted and
ground, or if not mounted, then one or two samples may be brought
which can be mounted and prepared during the course.

Course Instructor:

     Professor David A. Scott, Director of the MA program in
     Archaeological and Ethnographic Conservation.  His book, Copper
     and Bronze in Art: Corrosion, Colorants, Conservation won the
     prize from the Association of American Publishers  as the best
     Scholarly/Art book published in the USA in 2002.  Professor
     Scott has published  over 70 papers in the peer-reviewed
     literature and is an Editor for the journal Studies in

Course Schedule: The course will be held over the six days from
13-18 August, 2007.  The course will be held at the Cotsen Institute
of Archaeology, located in the basement of the Fowler Museum
Building at the UCLA campus in Los Angeles from 9:15am-5pm each day.
The course is open to a maximum of 10 participants only.

Course Costs:  The cost of the instruction for the six days will be
$800.00. For details of payment and to register for this course, as
well as to receive leaflets on local housing and hotels, please
contact the course organizer and director:

     Professor David A. Scott
     Room A410
     The Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, UCLA
     405 Hilgard Avenue
     Los Angeles CA 90095-1510, USA
     dascott [at] ucla__edu

Course Details:


     Introduction, use of the metallurgical microscope, the mounting
     and polishing  of samples, their preparation, use of resins,
     grinding and polishing.  Introduction to phase diagrams and
     their application to ancient bronzes and copper alloys.
     Copper-arsenical, copper-nickel, and copper-tin alloys. Casting
     and working of metals and aspects of bronze casting in the
     ancient world.  Etching of some copper alloys. Recording of
     samples with digital camera and case studies in the examination
     of a group of copper alloy plaques and a bronze figurine of the
     God Osiris will be discussed.


     Continuation of the examination of copper-tin and
     copper-tin-lead alloys. Ancient coinage alloys of the Roman
     period, examination of copper-arsenic bronzes, aspects of the
     corrosion of bronze and copper alloys. The Pourbaix diagram and
     some of its applications.  The extraction of metals from their
     ores and some principles of the Ellingham diagram.


     The phase diagram for copper-silver and lead-tin alloys.
     Examination of silver and debased silver alloys.  Surface
     enrichment and corrosion. Problems in the authentication of
     ancient silver and bronze alloys. Metallographic  examination
     of ancient silver alloys and techniques of etching silver.
     Discontinuous precipitation phenomena and the age of silver
     alloys. Colour etching of both copper alloys  and silver
     alloys. The Philosopher plate and the Strozzi silver basin:
     case studies from the J. Paul Getty Museum.


     Mounting of samples brought by students. Examination of some
     ternary phase issues in relation to gold-silver-copper alloys.
     The corrosion of tumbaga alloys and aspects of the Pourbaix
     diagram. Video concerning the extraction of iron and steel.
     Introduction to iron and steel.  The principles of corrosion
     and the eight types of corrosion of metals. The examination of
     iron from meteorites. The technology of ancient iron and steel
     in the West, in India and in China will be contrasted and
     samples illustrating these different technologies examined. The
     metallography of ancient iron alloys.


     Corrosion issues of iron and steel.  Weathering steel and
     patinas, the nature of iron corrosion products and their
     implications for the stabilization of iron artefacts during
     conservation treatments. Problems with the examination of lead,
     lead-tin, zinc, and aluminium alloys.  The reasons why brass
     was made by cementation, the extraction of metallic zinc and
     examination of samples of brass alloys.  The use of solders and
     aspects of tinning of ancient bronzes.  Examination of mounted
     specimens prepared on the Tuesday, and continuation of
     practical metallography.


     Gold and gold alloys: gilding:  examination of gold alloys.
     Lecture on the technology of ancient gold alloys in South
     America. Continuation of metallographic practical examination.

                  Conservation DistList Instance 20:48
                  Distributed: Tuesday, April 10, 2007
                       Message Id: cdl-20-48-007
Received on Saturday, 24 March, 2007

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