Ascertaining the degradation state of ceramic tiles: A preliminary non-destructive step in view of conservation treatments

Teresa P. Silva, Maria-Ondina Figueiredo, Maria-Isabel Prudencio

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Conserving the cultural heritage is a general concern and the use of non-destructive techniques to characterize ancient materials is important Serious deterioration effects in environmentally exposed ancient glazed ceramic tiles arise from the development of micro-organisms (algae/fungi) within the pore system. Subsequent biodegradation processes are particularly harmful once the decorated glaze is damaged by exfoliation/detachment

Three case studies will be addressed: Portuguese polychrome decorated tiles from the interior of two churches (16th-17th century) and from the outdoor of a Palace (18th century). Small tile fragments were directly irradiated in a wavelength-dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectrometer for glaze chemical characterization and subsequently irradiated in a powder diffractometer to assess the phase constitution of both glaze and ceramic body.

Cleaning and conserving these ancient cultural artifacts involve a decontamination process applying innovative non-destructive techniques. The present work is intended as a contribution to diagnose the actual degradation state of ancient tiles in view of future decontamination actions using gamma radiation. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-105
Number of pages5
JournalApplied Clay Science
Issue numberSI
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013


  • Ceramic tiles
  • 16th-18th century polychrome glazes
  • Non-destructive characterization
  • X-ray techniques

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