Roman wall paintings: characterisation of plaster coats made of clay mud

Bugini, Roberto, Corti, Cristina, Folli, Luisa and Rampazzi, Laura (2021) Roman wall paintings: characterisation of plaster coats made of clay mud. Heritage, 4 . pp. 889-905. ISSN 2571-9408 [Article]


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Abstract (in English)

This paper reports on the mineralogical characterisation of samples of wall paintings from various Roman sites in Lombardy (Italy), revealing recurrent types of stratigraphy. One of the stratigraphic samples analysed was found to be a particular kind of plaster: a three-coat work featuring two coats made of clay mud, found in the site of Santa Maria alla Porta (area of the Imperial Palace of Milan—first century CE). The fragments were analysed using optical microscopy on thin sections, X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy with an energy-dispersive spectrometer and infrared spectroscopy, also in non-invasive external reflection mode (7500–375 cm−1). The most interesting feature found was the finish coat made of clay mud (illite, chlorite, kaolinite and fine quartz) with a few coarse clasts and linear cavities. This clay coat was the first example ever detected in Roman Lombardy and was used in combination with a thin painted coat made of clay mud with coarse clasts together with a blue pigment (Egyptian blue) and a render coat made of lime associated with lithic clasts (sand). Our findings brought to light a particular construction technique, since in the historical sources clay is only recommended for daubing on reeds and as a render coat.

Item Type: Article
Bugini, Roberto
Corti, Cristina
Folli, Luisa
Rampazzi, Laura
Languages: English
Keywords: Clay mud; plaster coat; Roman plaster; wall paintings; Egyptian blue; FTIR; SEM-EDX; XRD; reflectance infrared spectroscopy; thin sections
Subjects: B. ARCHAEOLOGY > 02. Archaeological site and remains
C. ARCHITECTURE > 08. Wall paintings
Name of monument, town, site, museum: Santa Maria alla Porta (Milan, Italy)
Volume: 4
ISSN: 2571-9408
Depositing User: dr Laura Rampazzi
Date Deposited: 10 Dec 2021 22:01
Last Modified: 31 Oct 2023 12:10
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