Gold Bulletin

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 23–28 | Cite as

Chemical tracers in archaeological and natural gold: Aliseda Tartessos treasure and new discovered nuggets (SW Spain)

  • J. Garcia-Guinea
  • V. Correcher
  • R. M. Rojas
  • J. L. G. Fierro
  • C. Fernandez-Martin
  • P. López-Arce
  • S. Rovira-Llorens
Open Access
Scientific Papers


The gold outcrops employed by the ancient kingdom of Tartessos, settled in the SW of the Iberian Peninsula from ca. 10th to the 6th century BC, for the Aliseda treasure manufacture, has been discovered. This paper reports on the finding of collected gold nuggets, more than 80 units up to 218 g, in an ancient mining area located in Casas de Pedro (Extremadura, SW of Spain). The comparative physical-chemical analyses between these gold nuggets picked at present and the archaeological gold collected in 1920, have been performed by microscopy, X-ray diffraction (XRD), thermoluminescence (TL), X-ray photoelectron spectrometry (XPS) and electron microprobe analyses (EMPA). Pieces of Aliseda treasure and the picked gold nuggets show a highly homogeneous chemical composition of trace elements namely: As 0.01%, S 0.02%, Bi 0.35%, Fe 0.016%, Ag 0.8%, Sb 0.05% and Te 0.04%. The small difference between both gold samples is only of 0.2% extra copper in Aliseda due to an anthropogenic addition of a silver-copper mixture during a second firing of the jewel to weld ornamental spheres.

Key Words

Tartessos Geochemistry XPS EMPA TL XRD TG-TG-DTA Gold Nuggets Archaeology 


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Copyright information

© World Gold Council 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Garcia-Guinea
    • 1
  • V. Correcher
    • 2
  • R. M. Rojas
    • 3
  • J. L. G. Fierro
    • 4
  • C. Fernandez-Martin
    • 5
  • P. López-Arce
    • 6
  • S. Rovira-Llorens
    • 7
  1. 1.Museo Nacional Ciencias Naturales (CSIC)MadridSpain
  2. 2.CIEMATMadridSpain
  3. 3.Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Madrid(CSIC)MadridSpain
  4. 4.Instituto de Catálisis y Petroleoquímica (CSIC)MadridSpain
  5. 5.Department of ChemistryUniversity of BathBathUnited Kingdom
  6. 6.The Getty Conservation InstituteLos AngelesUSA
  7. 7.Museo Arqueológico Nacional.MadridSpain

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