In situ investigation by X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy on Pian di Civita Etruscan lituus from the “monumental complex” of Tarquinia, Italy

  • Claudia PelosiEmail author
  • Giorgia Agresti
  • Giovanna Bagnasco Gianni
  • Stefano De Angeli
  • Peter Holmes
  • U. Santamaria
Regular Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Focus Point on New Challenges in the Scientific Applications to Cultural Heritage


The aim of this paper is to report on the investigation of the lituus, an Etruscan musical instrument from the “monumental complex” of Pian di Civita (Tarquinia, Italy), taking advantage of the potentiality of non-invasive portable X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, video-microscope and radiography. In this case, the use of portable instrumentation was necessary due to the impossibility of transporting the musical instrument out of the museum and also of sampling for eventual laboratory investigation. The study forms part of the European Music Archaeology Project. The lituus is part of a group of objects, found together with an axe and a shield and is now on display in the National Museum of Tarquinia. This extraordinary discovery has no parallels in the Mediterranean area being the only such object whose archaeological context is well known and it is related to the history of the Etruscan town of Tarquinia. The characterization of the metal alloys utilised in creating the objects, never performed before, was crucial to identify the relationship between the three objects, and to understand the manufacturing of the lituus in order to produce a high-quality replica, in accordance with the main goal of the project. Video-microscope was particularly useful for investigating details of the objects and for highlighting the restored areas. XRF analysis revealed the use of copper/tin alloy for lituus, axe and shield. Radiography allowed information to be obtained about the structure of the instrument such as the use of a single piece of sheet for the tube.


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Copyright information

© Società Italiana di Fisica and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claudia Pelosi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Giorgia Agresti
    • 1
  • Giovanna Bagnasco Gianni
    • 2
  • Stefano De Angeli
    • 3
  • Peter Holmes
    • 4
  • U. Santamaria
    • 1
  1. 1.University of TusciaDepartment of Economics, Engineering, Society and Business Organization, Laboratory of Diagnostics and Materials ScienceViterboItaly
  2. 2.Università degli Studi di MilanoDepartment of Cultural Heritage and EnvironmentMilanoItaly
  3. 3.University of TusciaLaboratory of Analysis and Design of Cultural and Agro-forestry landscape (LandscapeLab) - Cultural Heritage SectionViterboItaly
  4. 4.Middlesex UniversityLondonUK

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