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Mortars and plasters—How to characterize aerial mortars and plasters


Aerial mortars and plasters have been widely used in construction throughout history, and their compatibility with historic mortars and plasters has led to their recent re-adoption. This paper reviews the prominent features of aerial mortars and plasters, their main characteristics and the various characterization methods using both traditional and advanced technology. Several techniques are used in physical, hydric, mechanical, petrographic, mineralogical and chemical characterization. A detailed explanation of microscopic characterization techniques is provided, indicating the information that can be obtained with each. Scientific advances in dating and provenance studies are also described.

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adapted from Lindroos et al. 2014). b Effects of fire on mortar or of re-carbonation/re-precipitation processes (the arrow marks the transformation of the mortar) (adapted from Heinemeier et al. 2010). C, conventional radiocarbon age; BP, before present

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The authors are indebted to the IGEO Petrophysical Laboratory and to the Applied Petrology in Heritage Conservation group (921349). The authors wish to acknowledge the professional support of the Open Heritage: Research and Society (PTI-PAIS) CSIC Interdisciplinary Thematic Platform. 


This research was funded by the CLIMORTEC (BIA2014-53911-R) project, Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness of Spain, and the TOP Heritage (P2018/NMT-4372) project, Community of Madrid.

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Correspondence to Duygu Ergenç.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Mortars, plasters and pigments: Research questions and answers

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Ergenç, D., Fort, R., Varas−Muriel, M.J. et al. Mortars and plasters—How to characterize aerial mortars and plasters. Archaeol Anthropol Sci 13, 197 (2021).

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