Marble Provenance Investigation of the Roman Sabine Sarcophagus

Author(s): Fred White

Year: 2014


Open Journal of Archaeometry

A Florida Archaeological Survey Archaeometry Project in association with laboratory studies at The Institute of Structure of Matter of the Italian National Research Council, Rome, Italy and the University of Georgia, Department of Geology, Athens, Georgia, United States

The provenance of marbles used for making sarcophagi during the Roman period is an important question and scientific analysis can provide a strong confirmation and basis for future studies determining when and where the materials were obtained for manufacture. By using three different techniques: electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy, stable isotope analysis and maximum grain size measurements, plus in-situ examination it is possible to resolve fully the provenance and date range of the ancient marble.

The marble comes from an ancient Roman quarry in the Etruria region of Italy and was carried to Rome where it was worked. The marble sample from the sarcophagus was scientifically analyzed against 524 other samples. The isotopic, EPR evidence and the color value percent of the Sabine sample of ancient Carrara (Luna) Marble also have a high match to other database samples including marble from The Pantheon, Rome completed 126 A.D., The Sarcophagus with Three Pairs of Captive Amazons, London 180-220 A.D., Trajan’s Column, Rome completed 113 A.D., and The Sarcophagus of the Triumph of Bacchus, Lyon c. 200 A.D. This qualitative conclusion is fully supported by the quantitative results and thus the dating of Sabine sarcophagus circa 2nd century A.D. is extremely accurate.

Archaeometry Analysis:

Dr. F. Ashley White, FAS Archaeometry Project, Gainesville, Florida, USA

Dr. Donato Attanasio, The Institute of Structure of Matter of the Italian National Research Council, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche - Istituto di Struttura della Materia, Rome, Italy

Julia Cox, Research Coordinator, Department of Geology, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA

Cite this Record

Marble Provenance Investigation of the Roman Sabine Sarcophagus. Fred White. Open Journal of Archaeometry. 2 (2:5232). 2014 ( tDAR id: 391646)


Temporal Coverage

Calendar Date: 100 to 200 (circa 2nd century AD)

Spatial Coverage

min long: 10.017; min lat: 44.029 ; max long: 10.174; max lat: 44.125 ;