Non-invasive and micro-destructive investigation of the Domus Aurea wall painting decorations

  • Catia Clementi
  • Valeria Ciocan
  • Manuela Vagnini
  • Brenda Doherty
  • Marisa Laurenzi Tabasso
  • Cinzia Conti
  • Brunetto Giovanni Brunetti
  • Costanza Miliani
Original Paper


The paper reports on the exploitation of an educated multi-technique analytical approach based on a wide non invasive step followed by a focused micro-destructive step, aimed at the minimally invasive identification of the pigments decorating the ceiling of the Gilded Vault of the Domus Aurea in Rome. The combination of elemental analysis with molecular characterization provided by X-ray fluorescence and UV–vis spectroscopies, respectively, allowed for the in situ non-invasive identification of a remarkable number of pigments, namely Egyptian blue, green earth, cinnabar, red ochre and an anthraquinonic lake. The study was completed with the Raman analysis of two bulk samples, in particular, SERS measurements allowed for the speciation of the anthraquinonic pigment. Elemental mapping by scanning electron microscopy-energy dispersive spectrometer combined with micro-fluorimetry on cross-section gave an insight into both the distribution of different blend of pigments and on the nature of the inorganic support of the red dye.


Non-invasive analysis SERS Roman wall painting Egyptian blue Anthraquinonic lake 



MOLAB analyses have been carried out through the support of the EU within the sixth Framework Programme (Contract Eu-ARTECH, RII3-CT-2004-506171). Authors thank Dr. Alessia Daveri and Dr. Francesca Rosi of the MOLAB team. Dr. R. Mannucci and Prof. I. Nicoletti of the Laboratorio di Analisi di Immagine of the University of Perugia are gratefully acknowledged for making the confocal microscopy study possible.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Catia Clementi
    • 1
    • 2
  • Valeria Ciocan
    • 2
  • Manuela Vagnini
    • 3
  • Brenda Doherty
    • 1
    • 2
  • Marisa Laurenzi Tabasso
    • 3
  • Cinzia Conti
    • 4
  • Brunetto Giovanni Brunetti
    • 1
    • 2
    • 5
  • Costanza Miliani
    • 2
    • 5
  1. 1.SMAArt, c/o Dipartimento di ChimicaUniversità degli Studi di PerugiaPerugiaItaly
  2. 2.SMAARTUniversità degli Studi di Perugia e INSTMPerugiaItaly
  3. 3.SMAART e il Restauro dei Beni CulturaliUniversità degli Studi di RomaRomaItaly
  4. 4.Archeologica di RomaRomaItaly
  5. 5.Istituto CNR di Scienze e Tecnologie Molecolari (CNR-ISTM), c/o Dipartimento di ChimicaUniversità degli Studi di PerugiaPerugiaItaly

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