Corrosion on prehistoric Cu–Sn-alloys: the influence of artificial environment and storage


The paper contributes to the identification of different corrosion products detected on the cross-section specimens sampled from Bronze Age swords and one helmet found between 60–160 years ago. The objects are kept in 1889 built oak showcases at the Natural History Museum Vienna, having suffered unknown restoration treatments. The identified corrosion products not only affect further eventual treatment in conservation science of copper base objects but also contribute to identify the often unknown find context, which is meant to facilitate archaeological interpretation of the Bronze Age weapons. The analyses of the samples were carried out using SEM-EDXS-EBSD and optical microscopy.

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The authors would like to thank the Natural History Museum Vienna for the permission to sample the swords and for placing the fresh made samples in their showcases. Special acknowledgements have to be paid to Silvia Kalabis, whose master thesis focused on VOCs inside the showcases at the NHM. Furthermore, the authors would like to thank the COST-D42 action: Chemical Interactions between Cultural Artefacts and Indoor Environment (ENVIART) for supporting the analyses and the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) and the FP7/Marie Curie actions, who were supporting the research with the Schrödinger-fellowship no. J 3109-G21.

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Correspondence to Marianne Mödlinger.

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Mödlinger, M., Piccardo, P. Corrosion on prehistoric Cu–Sn-alloys: the influence of artificial environment and storage. Appl. Phys. A 113, 1069–1080 (2013).

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  • Corrosion Product
  • Malachite
  • Intergranular Corrosion
  • Corrosion Layer
  • Cuprite