Mansoor Amarna Collection

 

Fred H. Stross, Ph.D. Introduction

Research Associate Archaeological Research Facility

Department of Anthropology.

University of California, Berkeley

Participating Guest, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory

University of California, Berkeley

 

TECHNICAL EXAMINATION OF ANCIENT ARTIFACTS.

 

Competent technical examination is repeatable ( by other competent workers), should result in quantitative information, and normally requires suitable apparatus, simple or complex. Technical examination can sometimes help in providing evidence deciding if an artifact was made recently or in ancient times. The objects in the Mansoor Amarna sculptures made of limestone have been subjected to a substantial number of technical studies. These studies have been mostly concerned with changes of the surface such as would occur in the course of time long time. If the objects had been partially or entirely buried in the sand, in an arid environment, two mutually antagonistic processes would have been at work. One would give rise to erosion, the other to deposition.

 

EROSION. Shifting of the sand, and sand blown by the wind over exposed surfaces, will remove the softer components of the limestone and leave the harder parts in relief. The surface thus might show ( as it does on some pieces of the collection ) different aspects of roughness, if the object has shifted in the course of time, and thus been exposed to different erosive mechanisms for different lengths of time. The minute shells, which characteristically are imbedded in the limestone used, are slightly harder than the matrix, and consequently appear raised above the surface in many places. This can be seen by the means of a low-power microscope or, in some cases, with a hand lens.

 

DEPOSTION. The rare ground waters or dew characteristically dissolve soluble components, especially iron and manganese salts, and bring them in contact with the surface of the artifacts. On evaporation, as the site heats up during the day, the salts precipitate out and form an insoluble patina, called desert varnish - a phenomenon common on stone exposed in deserts. Moreover, the salts may be changed to oxides, tough, dark, tenaciously adhering material called dendrites because of their tree-like quasi-crystalline forms. Other spot-like deposits are organic, and can be removed only with special solvents, such as pyridine; these deposits apparently are insect excreta that in the course of time have become hard and nearly insoluble.

 

None of these processes, nor their results lend themselves to duplication in a short time ( although many attempts have been made by forgers ), and the probability that all these effects could have been brought about, especially in duplicating the opposing mechanism is so remote that it can be ruled out.

 

Additional evidence has been developed, and for details of this information, and that discussed above, we must refer to the published material available from the owners of the collection.

 

 

Dr. Fred H. Stross

Research Associate, Archaeological Research Facility

Department of Anthropology

University of California, Berkeley

 

Participating Guest

Lawrence Berkeley laboratory

University of California

Berkeley, California

 

Signed : Fred H. Stross

November 10, 1986