XRF Ink Analysis of Selected Fragments from the Herculaneum Collection of the Biblioteca Nazionale di Napoli


The most commonly used ink in antiquity was carbon-based, and the main element of carbonized papyrus is carbon, making conventional computed tomography (CT-scanning) of Herculaneum scrolls difficult. However, Roman and Greek inks containing metals have recently been identified in some papyri from Egypt, changing our understanding of ink technology in antiquity. This raises hope that some rolls can be virtually unrolled by CT-scanning. Here we present the results of a preliminary analysis, aimed at identifying scrolls whose ink contains metals.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i99788883051760p200

Keywords: Herculaneum; XRF; ink

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