Seeing through Corrosion: Using Micro-focus X-ray Computed Tomography to Digitally "Clean" Ancient Bronze Coins

2010  H. Nguyen, S. Keating, G. Bevan, A. Gabov, M. Daymond, B. Schillinger, A. Muray, Fall Materials Research Society Conference, 2010


Vast numbers of bronze coins have been, and continue to be, excavated from archaeological sites around the Greco-Roman world. While often of little value from a strictly numismatic point of view, these coins provide invaluable data within their respective stratigraphic contexts and are used to date occupational and architectural phases more precisely than by ceramics alone. Unfortunately, the build-up of corrosion and mineralization on these coins during their centuries of burial often obscures their legends. Rather than employing potentially destructive and time-consuming chemical or mechanical cleaning techniques to reveal these features, commercially available Micro-focus X-Ray CT systems are now sufficiently well developed to reveal original surface features and to permit identification by a trained numismatist without any cleaning at all.

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