Characterization of Pigments in Wall Paintings of Macedonian Tombs Using Noninvasive and Nondestructive Techniques

  • Alexandros Konstanta
  • Georgia Theofanidou
  • Vasileios Tsinaridis
  • Ioannis KarapanagiotisEmail author


The goal of the study is the identification of pigments and other materials contained in wall paintings of three Macedonian tombs which date back to the fourth to third century BC: the tomb I of Dion, the tomb IV of Dion, and the tomb A (Heuzey). The investigation is carried out in two phases. First, portable X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy is used for in situ measurements. In the second phase, 12 microsamples which were removed from damaged areas of the wall paintings are investigated using optical microscopy, micro-Raman, and micro-FTIR spectroscopy.

The following pigments are identified: red ochre, yellow ochre, Egyptian blue, and carbon black. Moreover, the dominant presence of calcite is revealed, while gypsum is identified in the preparation layers of only two samples. Finally, an organic material (probably egg yolk) is detected in three samples by FTIR. Based on these findings, an interpretation of the possible (fresco/secco) painting technique(s) which could have been applied in the Macedonian paintings is provided, in light of previously published reports.


Painting Macedonian Ochre Egyptian blue Carbon black Egg XRF Raman FTIR 



The authors would like to thank the Ephorate of Antiquities of Pieria and the Ministry of Culture of Greece for providing the permission to study the mural paintings and the corresponding samples.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexandros Konstanta
    • 1
  • Georgia Theofanidou
    • 2
  • Vasileios Tsinaridis
    • 1
  • Ioannis Karapanagiotis
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Management and Conservation of Ecclesiastical Cultural Heritage ObjectsUniversity Ecclesiastical Academy of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece
  2. 2.Faculty of Engineering, Interdisciplinary Ms Program in Preservation and Restoration of Mechanisms and Works of ArtAristotle University of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece

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