Poster Number 60
Tuesday, 7 October 2008
George R. Brown Convention Center, Exhibit Hall E
Results of an archaeometric analysis of the James Ossuary strengthen the contention that the ossuary and the inscription are authentic. The composition of the patina is mainly CaCO3 (93%) and contains Si (5.0%), Al (0.7%), Fe (0.3%), P (0.4%), and Mg (0.2%). The accreted patina is enriched with silicone (approximately 5.0%) relative to the original stone (Si = 1.5%). It contains no modern elements and adheres firmly to the stone. The biogenic beige to gray patina and its morphology can be observed on the surface of the ossuary, continuing gradationally into the engraved inscription, despite the fact that the ossuary was cleaned unprofessionally with a sharp implement and with unidentified cleansers. The engraving clearly does not cut the patina. Ultra-violet illumination does not indicate any new engraving marks. Thin scratches, over which the patina has accreted, about 0.5 mm wide and several centimeters in length, are found on the outer sides of the walls and within the inscription. These marks are mostly vertical, but some are diagonal. Most of these scratches' appear to be tool marks resulting from the preparation of the limestone block by the stonemason, but some may be from falling roof rock and cleaning the surfaces of the ossuary. In addition to calcite and quartz the patina contains the following minerals: apatite (calcium phosphate), whewellite (hydrated calcium oxide), weddelite (calcium oxalate). These minerals result from the biogenic activity of microorganisms such as microcolonial fungi, lichens and bacteria that require a period of at least 50-100 years to form the patina. Patination consists not only of calcium carbonate deposition, such as one finds in caves (e.g. stalactites and stalagmites), but is also a product of weathering that is composed of in situ environmental and anthropogenic components.
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