Skip to main content
Log in

An updated petrographic and isotopic reference database for white marbles used in antiquity

  • Geosciences and Cultural Heritage
  • Published:
Rendiconti Lincei Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

The identification of the quarry of provenance of ancient marble artefacts is, on the one hand, of the utmost interest to archaeologists and art historians, on the other hand, one of the most debated problems of petro-archaeometry. Scholars of different disciplines (geosciences, chemistry, physics) have been trying for more than a century such identification by means of a unique or multiple laboratory analysis without totally positive results in absence of non-destructive techniques. To date, the best probabilities of success are obtained by combining together at least two analytical methodologies and jointly processing all the data obtained. In particular, the detailed minero-petrographic examination of a thin section and the determination of the C and O stable isotopic ratios on the same sample is currently the most widely used and reliable combination. Such a combination takes advantage of the most updated existing databases for the main Mediterranean marbles very commonly used in classical antiquity. On the basis of a complete scrutiny of the recent literature data published from 2002 to 2012, we propose here an upgrade and reorganization on a geographic base of the petrographic and isotopic databanks based on hundreds of analyses relative to the marbles from the major and some minor quarries active in Greek and Roman times. These new data allow to increase the statistical significance of the whole database and draw new global reference isotopic diagrams related to the maximum grain size (MGS) of the different marbles proving very useful to better determining the provenance of a given archaeological/historical marble objects.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  • Antonelli F, Lazzarini L (2013a) The use of white marble in the central and upper adriatic between Greece and Rome: Hellenistic Stelae from the necropolis of Ancona (Italy). Camb Archaeol J 23(2):149–162

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Antonelli F, Lazzarini L (2013b) White and coloured marbles of the Roman town of Urbs Salvia (Urbisaglia, Macerata, Marche, Italy). Oxf J Archaeol 32(3):293–317

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Antonelli F, Gentili G, Renzulli A, Amadori ML (2003) Provenance of the ornamental stones used in the baroque church of S. Pietro in Valle (Fano, Central Italy) and commentary on their state of conservation. J Cult Herit 4(4):299–312

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Antonelli F, Lazzarini L, Cancelliere S, Dessandier D (2009a) Volubilis (Meknes, Morocco): archaeometric study of the white and coloured marbles imported in the Roman age. J Cult Herit 10:116–123

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Antonelli F, Lazzarini L, Cancelliere S, Dessandier D (2009b) Minero-petrographic and geochemical characterisation of ‘greco scritto’ marble from Cap de Garde near Hippo Regius (Annaba, Algeria). Archaeometry 51:351–365

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Antonelli F, Lazzarini L, Cancelliere S, Dessandier D (2010) On the white and coloured marbles of the Roman town of Cuicul (Djemila, Algeria). Archaeometry 52(4):575–596

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Antonelli F, Columbu S, Lezzerini M, Miriello D (2014a) Petrographic characterization and provenance determination of the white marbles used in the Roman sculptures of Forum Sempronii (Fossombrone, Marche, Italy). Appl Phys A Mater Sci Process 115(3):1033–1040

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Antonelli F, Lapuente MP, Dessandier D, Kamel S (2014b) Petrographic characterization and provenance determination of the crystalline marbles used in the Roman city of Banasa (Morocco): new data on the import of Iberian marble in Roman North Africa. Archaeometry. doi:10.1111/arcm.12099

    Google Scholar 

  • Attanasio D (2003) Ancient white marbles. L’Erma di Bretschneider, Rome 284

    Google Scholar 

  • Attanasio D, Conti L, Platania R, Turi B (2002) Multimethod provenance determinations: isotopic, ESR and petrographic discrimination of fine-grained white marbles. In: Lazzarini L (ed) ASMOSIA VI, interdisciplinary studies in ancient stone. Marsilio Editore, Padova, pp 141–147

    Google Scholar 

  • Attanasio D, Brilli M, Ogle N (2006) The isotopic signatures of classical marbles. L’erma di Bretschneider, Rome 279

  • Attanasio D, Bruno M, Yavuz AB (2009) Quarries in the region of Aphrodias: the black and white marbles of Göktepe (Mugla, Turkey). J Roman Archaeol 22(1):312–348

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Attanasio D, Bruno M, Prochaska W, Yavuz AB (2015) A multi-method database of the black and white marbles of Göktepe (Aphrodisias), including isotopic, EPR, trace and petrographic data. Archaeometry 57:217–245

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Barbin V, Burns SJ, Decrouez D, Oddone M, Zezza U (1991) Cathodoluminescence, REE, and stable isotopes characterization of marbles from Crevola D’Ossola, Candoglia, Lasa (Italy) and Pteleos (Greece). In: Decrouez D, Chamay J, Zezza F (eds) The conservation of monuments in the Mediterranean basin. Muséum d’histoire naturelle : Musée d’art et d’histoire, Genève, pp 47–62

  • Borg BE, Borg G (2002) The history of Apollo’s temple at Didyma, as told by marble analyses and historical sources. In: Lazzarini L (ed) ASMOSIA VI, interdisciplinary studies in ancient stone. Marsilio Editore, Padova, pp 271–278

    Google Scholar 

  • Bruno M, Conti L, Lazzarini L, Pensabene P, Turi B (2002) The marble quarries of Thasos: an archeometric study. In: Lazzarini L (ed) ASMOSIA VI, interdisciplinary studies in ancient stone. Marsilio Editore, Padova, pp 157–162

    Google Scholar 

  • Cahill ND, Lazzarini L (2015) The quarries of the Mağara Deresi and the marble of the temple of Artemis at Sardis. Am J Archaeol (in press)

  • Capedri S, Venturelli G, Photiades A (2004) Accessory minerals and δ 18O and δ 13C of marbles from the Mediterranean area. J Cult Herit 5:27–47

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cavari F, Droghini F, Giamello M, Lazzarini L, Mascione C (2012) The white marble quarries of Campiglia Marittima (Livorno, Italy) and the provenance of marble artefacts from Populonia. In: Gutiérrez Garcia A, Lapuente P, Rodà I (eds) ASMOSIA IX interdisciplinary studies on ancient stone. D’aquesta edició, Institut Català d’Arqueologia Clàssica (ICAC), Tarragona, pp 390–400

  • Columbu S, Antonelli F, Lezzerini M, Miriello D, Adembri B, Blanco A (2014) Provenance of marbles used in the Heliocaminus Baths of Hadrian’s Villa (Tivoli, Italy). J Archaeol Sci 49:332–342

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Conforto L, Felici M, Monna D, Serva L, Taddeucci A (1975) A preliminary evaluation of chemical data (trace elements) from classical marble quarries in the Mediterranean. Archaeometry 17:201–213

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cordischi D, Monna D, Segre AL (1983) ESR analysis of marble samples from Mediterranean quarries of archaeological interest. Archaeometry 25:68–76

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Craig H, Craig V (1972) Greek marble determination of provenance by isotopic analysis. Science 176:401–403

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Franzini M, Lezzerini M, Origlia F (2010) Marbles from the Campiglia Marittima area (Tuscany, Italy). Eur J Mineral 22:881–893

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Gorgoni C, Lazzarini L, Pallante P, Turi B (2002) An updated and detailed mineropetrographic and C–O stable isotopic reference database for the main Mediterranean marbles used in antiquity. In: Herrmann JJ, Herz N, Newton R (eds) ASMOSIA 5: interdisciplinary studies on ancient stone. Archetype Publications Ltd., London, pp 115–131

  • Green WA, Young SMM, Van Der Merve NJ, Herrmann JJ (2002) Source tracing of marble: trace element analysis with inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry. In: Herrmann JJ, Herz N, Newton R (eds) ASMOSIA 5: interdisciplinary studies on ancient stone. Archetype Publications Ltd., London, pp 132–142

  • Herrmann JJ, Attanasio D, Tykot RH, Van Den Hoek A (2012) Characterization and distribution of marble from Cap de Garde and Mt. Filfila, Algeria. In: Gutiérrez Garcia A, Lapuente P, Rodà I (eds) ASMOSIA IX Interdisciplinary studies on ancient stone. D’aquesta edició, Institut Català d’Arqueologia Clàssica (ICAC), Tarragona, pp 300–309

  • Herz N (1955) Petrofabrics and classical archaeology. Am J Sci 253:299–305

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Herz N (1985) Isotopic analysis of marble. In: Rapp G Jr, Gifford JA (eds) “Archaeological geology”. Yale University Press, New Haven and London, pp 331–351

  • Herz N (1988) The oxygen and carbon isotopic database for classical marble. In: Herz N, Waelkens M (eds) Classical marble: geochemistry, technology, trade. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, pp 305–314

  • Herz N, Prichett WK (1953) Marble in Attic epigraphy. Am J Sci 57:71–83

    Google Scholar 

  • Lazzarini L, Antonelli F (2003) Petrographic and isotopic characterization of the marble of the island of Tinos (Greece). Archaeometry 45(4):541–552

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lazzarini L, Cancelliere S (2000) Characterisation of the white marble of two unpublished ancient Roman quarries on the islands of Fourni and Skyros (Greece). Period di Mineral 69(1):49–62

    Google Scholar 

  • Lazzarini L, Malacrino CG (2011) The white marble of Kos, its quarries and archaeometric characterization. Marmora 6:57–70

    Google Scholar 

  • Lazzarini L, Moschini G, Stievano BM (1980) A contribution to the identification of Italian, Greek and Anatolian marbles through a petrological study and the evaluation of Ca/Sr ratio. Archaeometry 22:173–182

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Lazzarini L, Ponti G, Preite Martinez M, Rockwell P, Turi B (2002) Historical, technical, petrographic, and isotopic features of Aphrodisian marbles. In: Herrmann JJ, Herz N, Newton R (eds) ASMOSIA 5: interdisciplinary studies on ancient stone. Archetype Publications Ltd., London, pp 163–168

  • Lepsius R (1890) Griechische marmorstudien. Verlag der Königl. Akademie der Wissenschaften, Berlin, p 135

    Google Scholar 

  • Lloyd RV, Smith PW, Haskell HW (1985) Evaluation of the manganese EPR method of marble characterisation. Archaeometry 27:108–116

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Manfra L, Masi U, Turi B (1975) Carbon and oxygen isotope ratios of marbles from some ancient quarries of Western Anatolia and their archaeological significance. Archaeometry 17:215–221

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Matthews KJ (1997) The establishment of a data base of neutron activation analyses of white marble. Archaeometry 39:321–332

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Meloni S, Oddone M, Zezza U (1995) Rare-earth element patterns of white marbles from ancient quarries in Carrara (Italy). In: Maniatis Y, Herz N, Basiakos Y (eds) The study of marble and other stones used in antiquity. Archetype Publications Ltd., London, pp 181–186

  • Moens L, Roos P, De Rudder J, De Paepe P, Van Hende J, Marechal R, Waelkens M (1988) A multi-method approach to the identification of white marbles used in antique artifacts. In: Herz N, Waelkens M (eds) Classical marble: geochemistry, technology, trade. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, pp 243–250

  • Origlia F, Gliozzo E, Gandin A, Meccheri M, Spangenberg JE, Turbanti Memmi I (2012) Marbles and carbonate rocks from central Morocco: a petrographic, mineralogical and geochemical study. Environ Earth Sci 66(1):209–222

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Pensabene P, Antonelli F, Lazzarini L, Cancelliere S (2012) Provenance of marble sculptures and artifacts from the so-called Canopus and other buildings of “Villa Adriana” (Hadrian’s villa—Tivoli, Italy). J Archaeol Sci 37:994–1005

    Google Scholar 

  • Pentia M, Herz N, Turi B (2002) Provenance determination of classical marbles: a statistical test based on 87Sr/86Sr, 18O/16O and 13C/12C isotopic ratios. In: Lazzarini L (ed) ASMOSIA VI, interdisciplinary studies on ancient stone. Bottega di Erasmo, A. Ausilio editore, Padova, pp 219–229

  • Pike S (2009) A stable isotope database for the ancients white marble quarries of mounts Pentelikon, Greece. In: Maniatis Y (ed) ASMOSIA VII, actes du VII colloque international de L’ASMOSIA. BCH, Suppl 51. The French School of Athens, Athina, pp 699–708

    Google Scholar 

  • Polikreti K, Maniatis Y (2002) A new methodology for the provenance of marble based on EPR spectroscopy. Archaeometry 44(1):1–21

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Renfrew C, Springer Peacy J (1968) Aegean marble: a petrological study. Annu Br Sch Athens 63:45–66

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rybach L, Nissen HU (1964) Neutron activation of Mn and Na traces in marbles worked by the ancient Greeks. In: Proceedings of radiochemical methods of analysis. IAEA, Salzburg, pp 105–117

  • Szekly B, Zoldfoldi J (2009) Fractal anlaysis and quantitative fabric analysis database for West Anatolian white marble. In: Maniatis Y (ed) ASMOSIA VII, actes du VII colloque international de L’ASMOSIA. BCH, Supp 51. The French School of Athens, Athina, pp 719–734

    Google Scholar 

  • Tykot RH, Ramage MH (2002) On the importation of monumental marble to Sardis. In: Herrmann JJ, Herz N, Newton R (eds) ASMOSIA 5: interdisciplinary studies on ancient stone. Archetype Publications Ltd., London, pp 335–339

  • Varti Matarangas M, Matarangas D, Lazzarini L (2009) The marbles of Ikaria and Samos (Grecee): Querries and Characterisation. In: Jokey Ph (ed) Leukos Lithos, Marbres et autres roches de la Méditerranée antique: études interdisciplinaires. Actes du VIIIe Colloque International de l’ASMOSIA, Khartala, Paris, pp 31–47

    Google Scholar 

  • Weiss LE (1954) Fabric analysis of some Greek marbles and its applications to archaeology. Am J Sci 252:641–662

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Young WJ, Ashmole B (1968) The Boston relief and the Ludovisi Throne. Bull Mus Fine Arts 66:124–166

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Fabrizio Antonelli.

Additional information

This contribution is the extended, peer reviewed version of a paper presented at the session “Archaeometry and Cultural Heritage: the contribution of Geosciences” held during the conference “The future of the Italian Geosciences, the Italian Geosciences of the future” organized by the Società Geologica Italiana and the Società Italiana di Mineralogia e Petrologia, Milano, 10–12 September 2014.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Antonelli, F., Lazzarini, L. An updated petrographic and isotopic reference database for white marbles used in antiquity. Rend. Fis. Acc. Lincei 26, 399–413 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12210-015-0423-4

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12210-015-0423-4

Keywords

Navigation