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  12-03-2008: THE ARTEMIDORUS PAPYRUS DATES BACK APPROXIMATELY 2000 YEARS 
 COMPLETE LIST 

© Copyright 2002 INFN The use of photos is free of charge. Please request authorisation from the INFN Communication Office


© Copyright 2002 INFN The use of photos is free of charge. Please request authorisation from the INFN Communication Office

The Laboratory for Cultural Goods (LABEC) (Florence, Italy) of the National Institute of Nuclear Physics has dated the Artemidorus Papyrus. According to the analyses performed by LABEC, the Papyrus dates back approximately 2,000 years. The discovery was announced today in Berlin.

The Laboratory for Cultural Goods (LABEC) in Florence, part of Italy’s National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN), has dated the material on which the famous and debated Artemidorus Papyrus was written (the document that contains the first known transcription of part of the geography of Artemidorus of Ephesus, the 1st century B.C. historian). According to the analyses performed by LABEC, the Papyrus dates back approximately 2,000 years and is thus not the work of Artemidorus but instead a later transcription of his work.

The discovery was announced today in Berlin by LABEC’s Director, Pier Andrea Mandò, during a presentation of a scientific publication on the Papyrus, realised by Claudio Gallazzi, Bärbel Kramer and Salvatore Settis, published by LED Edizioni (Milan).

LABEC used the ultrasensitive technique of accelerator mass spectroscopy to perform carbon-14 dating on three tiny fragments from different points on the Papyrus. The analyses consistently showed that the fragments are from around the 1st century A.D., with a 95% probability that they date back to between 40 B.C. and 130 A.D. and a 68% probability that they date back to between 15 A.D. and 85 A.D. These findings were confirmed by other analyses independently performed by the CIRCE laboratory, which a group of nuclear physicists from Naples recently established in the town of Caserta.

Another important analysis conducted by LABEC was that of the ink used to write the Papyrus, performed using Ion Beam Analysis. According to the results, the Papyrus was definitely not written with iron-gallic ink (which is based on metal salts and was commonly used in the 19th century) but with an ink with a purely organic base. The Ion Beam Analysis allowed the ink to be analysed without removing (and destroying) a sample of it, reconstructing (through analysis with a scanning micro-beam) the distribution maps of the chemical elements on various written areas of the Papyrus. In no case was a correlation found between the distribution of the metallic elements that should comprise a iron-gallic ink and the traces of the writing .The same conclusions were suggested by analyses performed by other groups using different techniques (Raman and XRF spectroscopy).

The Fondazione per l'Arte della Compagnia di San Paolo acquired the Artemidorus Papyrus in 2004 and placed it to the Egyptian Museum in Turin (for information: www.fondazionearte.it).

Artemidorus Papyrus
According to the website of the Fondazione per l’Arte della Compagnia di San Paolo, the Artemidorus Papyrus is “an archaeological find that dates back to the 1st century B.C .... it is exceptional evidence of the science and art of antiquity. The scroll, which was originally two and a half meters in length, contains, on the recto, a part of the geography of Artemidorus of Ephesus (who lived between the 1st and the 2nd century B.C.), written in Greek, alongside a map and sketches of faces and parts of the human body (extremely lifelike hands and feet). The verso contains a bestiary, with drawings of both real and imaginary animals.”.


The LABEC-INFN laboratory

The LABEC-INFN laboratory in Florence, which is managed in collaboration with the University of Florence, has over 20 years of experience in the application of nuclear techniques to cultural goods, conducting analyses on numerous works of art and objects of historical interest, including paintings, archaeological finds, relics, and ancient writings. The works analysed by LABEC-INFN include such masterpieces as Da Vinci’s Madonna dei Fusi, Antonello da Messina’s Ritratto di ignoto, the Croce di Rosano, and important evidence of the history of science, such as notes written by Galileo. Recently, LABEC performed carbon-14 dating on two tunics that had been traditionally attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi, revealing that only one of the tunics was made during the Saint’s lifetime, whereas the other was more recent..

LABEC is considered as an international reference centre for nuclear techniques that are based on the use of a particle accelerator. It is extremely active in diverse sectors, particularly in the analyses of cultural goods and the study of atmospheric pollution. It is equipped with a state-of-the-art Tandetron particle accelerator with a terminal voltage of 3 million volts, which was specifically designed for both accelerated mass spectroscopy (used, in particular, for carbon-14 dating) and Ion Beam Analysis, which is used to identify the chemical components of a material without destroying the sample.

Last September, LABEC organised the 9th triennial ECAART (European Conference on Accelerators in Applied Research and Technology); this was the first ECAART to be held in Italy, with over 200 experts from 29 countries from around the world.

contacts

Catia Peduto
INFN press office
3393784477
comunicazione@presid.infn.it

Pier Andrea Mandò
Director of LABEC
tel. 055 457 2707/2640
cell 3489030042
email mando@fi.infn.it

Romeo Bassoli
Head of press office
Istituto Nazionale Fisica Nucleare
tel: 39.066840031 - 39.066868162
cell: 3286666766
e-mail: romeo.bassoli@presid.infn.it


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