Study of a late bronze age casting mould and its black residue by 3D imaging, pXRF, SEM-EDS, micro-FTIR and micro-raman

Elin Figueiredo, Carlo Bottaini, Catarina Miguel, Aaron Lackinger, José Mirão, Beatriz Comendador Rey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the present work, a fragment of a stone mould recently found in Galicia (NW Spain) was studied by multiple analytical techniques approach involving 3D optical imaging reconstruction to obtain data about the shape of the mould, typology of artefact produced, and distribution of a black residue at the surface of the mould and pXRF, SEM-EDS, micro-FTIR, and micro-Raman to investigate the nature of the black residue. The study shows that the mould was likely used for socketed axes with a side loop, was originally composed of two valves and one core, and that it might have been subjected to a repair during use. The black residue is distributed in the carved surface and spreads to nearby surfaces as a result of the use of the mould. The alloy cast in the mould was a ternary bronze (Cu + Sn + Pb). The analyses by SEM-EDS of black residue covering the surface did show the presence of scattered micro particles with P and Ca, and micro-Raman analysis detected the presence of a carbon black of animal source, while micro-FTIR analysis detected remains of proteins, oxalates, and hydroxyapatite. These results are amongst the very few studies made on black residues of ancient moulds and suggest that the mould was dressed with a carbon black of animal origin, such as burned bones, prior to metal casting, probably used as a coating agent to improve the casting and artefact recovery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2960-2972
Number of pages13
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • 3D reconstruction
  • Archaeometallurgy
  • Burned bones
  • Carbon black
  • Casting mould
  • Late Bronze Age
  • Micro-FTIR
  • Micro-Raman
  • PXRF


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