X-Ray Digital Radiography to Study Gold–Silver Nose Decorations from the Moche Tomb of the Lady of Cao
In the present study nose decorations from the tomb of the ‘Lady of Cao’, a mummified Moche woman dated around third–fourth century AD, were analyzed by a portable X-ray digital radiography (XDR) system. The Moche civilization flourished along the north coast of present-day Peru, between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean, approximately between 100 and 600 AD. The Moche were very sophisticated artisans and metal smiths, so that they are considered the finest producers of jewels and artifacts of the region. Their metalworking ability was impressively demonstrated by the excavations of the tomb of the ‘Lady of Cao’, discovered by Regulo Franco in 2005. More than 100 beautiful jewels were found in this tomb, among them about 40 nose decorations composed of a combination of gold and silver sheets. Radiographs of several of them were carried out, with the aim to evaluate the gold–silver joining process, to check the homogeneity of the alloy and to quantify the thickness of the sheets. The XDR system consisted of a mini X-ray tube and of a digital X-ray flat panel. The radiographic images of the nose decorations revealed details of the manufacturing process and of the Au–Ag junction.
KeywordsRadiography Moche nose decorations Gold–silver joins Sheets thickness
Many thanks to Luciano Mastrolorenzi, eminent goldsmith and sculptor, for experimentally simulating different gold-silver joining methods and for stimulating discussions. This work was partially supported by Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico, CNPq, (Process Number 154293/2016-4, Brazil), and Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (FAPERJ).
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