Original paper

Wall painting pigments of Roman Empire age from Syria Palestina province (Israel)

Piovesan, Rebecca; Maritan, Lara; Amatucci, Martina; Nodari, Luca; Neguer, Jacques

Abstract

This work is the first step of an extensive project aimed at chemical and mineralogical characterization of pigments of Roman Empire age throughout the provinces. Wall painting materials from two Roman archaeological sites in Israel (the ancient province of Iudaea, later known as Syria Palestina) were studied: the Roman villa of Lod, dated to the fourth century CE and the synagogue of Migdal, dated between the first century BCE and the second century CE. A total of 165 samples were investigated, producing multi-analytical information from optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy supported by energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, micro-Raman spectroscopy, X ray diffraction, infra-red spectroscopy, and portable energy-dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy. This study shows that materials and techniques in the Roman province of Syria Palestina follow Empire tendencies, although advantage was taken also of the local availability of raw materials. Seven different pigments were identified, including Egyptian blue and cinnabar, and the predominant wall painting technique used was fresco occasionally supported by secco retouching.

Keywords

historical pigmentsmineralogyvilla of lodarchaeometryisraelroman wall paintingsmigdal synagogue