Characterisation of Archaeological High-tin Bronze Corrosion Structures

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Since ancient times, the use of high-tin bronze alloys (>17 wt.%) has been mainly limited to the production of specific objects such as mirrors and bells. High-tin bronzes can show distinctive colour reflection, as well as mechanical properties and corrosion resistance that clearly distinguish them from the classical bronze composition (with 8–12 wt.% tin). In the present study samples of archaeological high-tin bronze bells were studied by optical microscopy, SEM-EDX, and Raman imaging with the aim of characterising their microstructural long-term corrosion patterns. Results show the presence of high quantities of δ phase, when compared to the classical bronze composition, which makes some corrosion structures more visible in these alloys. The corrosion morphologies show selective corrosion of different metal phases along depth of corrosion, which were attributed to different oxygen potentials. This study proposes a classification of four types of corrosion structures occurring in two-phase bronzes as a consequence of aeration conditions during burial time and aeration within the corrosion structure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222-236
JournalStudies in Conservation
Issue number4
Early online dateDec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2022


  • Archaeological artefacts
  • bells
  • high-tin bronze
  • long-term corrosion


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