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The vast antiquities collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum—with particular strength in Greek and Roman art from the sixth century BC to the fourth century AD—is housed at the Getty Villa in Malibu, and is served by a satellite laboratory of the CRL located on-site.

One of the principal areas of study undertaken by scientists and conservators regarding antiquities is uncovering and understanding ancient technologies. These studies frequently arise during the course of addressing questions regarding authenticity, provenance, the identity of previous restoration treatments, or the nature of discoloration or deterioration. Such studies often can be advanced by examination of the trace elements contained within the stone, ceramic, glass, or metal from which the object is constructed, to provide a kind of fingerprint of the original geochemical source. The primary instrument used for such studies is an inductively-coupled plasma mass-spectrometer (ICP-MS). Additional characterizations are carried out using a variety of techniques, including scanning electron microscopy, Raman spectroscopy, and X-ray diffraction.

Case Study: Analysis of Red Pigment Found on Red Shroud Mummies (1p., PDF, 212KB)

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Last updated: June 2009