EGU24-541, updated on 08 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Archaeometry in geosciences: the study of ancient geomaterials for archaeological investigations.

Francesca Gambino1, Lorenzo Appolonia2,3, Alessandro Borghi1, Sylvie Cheney2, Roberto Cossio1, Stefano Marco De Bernardi2, Giovanna Antonella Dino1, Stefano Ghignone1, and Gabriele Sartorio2
Francesca Gambino et al.
  • 1University of Turin, Department of Geological Sciences, Torino, Italy (
  • 2Superintendence for Cultural Heritage and Activities of Valle d'Aosta, Aosta, Italy
  • 3Centro Conservazione e Restauro La Venaria Reale, Venaria Reale, Italy

The term "archaeometry" was first used in 1958 as the title of a special volume published by the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and Art History at Oxford University.  Archaeometry is a scientific discipline that employs various techniques primarily for the identification of sites, settlement patterns, archaeological stratigraphy, and the production and analysis of found artefacts.

Ancient buildings, artifacts, and finds consist predominantly of natural and artificial resources obtained from geological sources. Geosciences techniques are optimal for obtaining information on the origin and technological properties of archaeological artefacts and materials used in cultural heritage from geological sources.

This study conducted a petrographic and geochemical analysis of historical mortars from the Roman Theatre of Aosta and the Medieval Sarriod de la Tour Castel located in the Aosta Valley in North-West Italy. Mineralogical phase-specific distribution of elements in mortar samples was calculated using a semi-automated method of image analysis incorporating multivariate statistical analysis of X-ray spectral images. Based on SEM backscattering, a cluster image analysis was conducted to determine the ratio of aggregate, binder, and porosity. Additionally, simple algebraic operations were utilized to fully quantify the oxides in every EDS spectrum, and to compute the distribution of Hydraulicity Index (HI) within the examined domains.

This study provided many answers about supply areas, variation of raw materials over time, network/transport systems, development and production processes. The petrographic analysis has enabled identification of both the binder and aggregate type. Specifically, it has afforded information on the type of raw material used to produce the lime, the ratio of binder to aggregate, the origin of the aggregate (sedimentary or crushed rock) and its composition.

These investigations were conducted in close collaboration with archaeologists to reconstruct the exchanges between ancient civilizations and evaluate their technological progress.

Ultimately, the progress of geosciences within the field of Cultural Heritage highlights how this type of study is essential for the dissemination and museology of what represents the culture of materials from  archaeological, historical and scientific point of view.

How to cite: Gambino, F., Appolonia, L., Borghi, A., Cheney, S., Cossio, R., De Bernardi, S. M., Dino, G. A., Ghignone, S., and Sartorio, G.: Archaeometry in geosciences: the study of ancient geomaterials for archaeological investigations., EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-541,, 2024.