Synchrotron X-ray diffraction and imaging of ancient Chinese bronzes
High-energy synchrotron X-ray diffraction and imaging experiments were performed at the Advanced Photon Source on two ancient Chinese bronzes from the Art Institute of Chicago with the goal to nondestructively study their microstructure. The first object, a bronze fragment from an early Western Zhou dynasty vessel (Hu, 11th/10th century B.C.), was investigated with spatially-resolved diffraction to reveal the depth and composition of the surface corrosion layer as well as the composition and grain size of the underlying bronze core. The second object, a bronze dagger-axe (Ge, 3rd/2nd century B.C.) with a silver-inlaid sheath, was studied under both diffraction and imaging conditions. It was found to have been cast as a single object, answering longstanding scholars’ questions on whether the ceremonial object concealed an interior blade.