Table of Contents
Journal of Archaeology
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 519218, 6 pages
Research Article

X-Ray Fluorescence Analysis of XII–XIV Century Italian Gold Coins

1Civic Museum of Montopoli Val d’Arno, Via Guicciardini 55, 56020 Montopoli V/A, Italy
2Institute of Physics, Federal University Fluminense, Avenida Gal. Milton Tavares de Souza, s/n° Campus da Praia Vermelha, 24210-346 Niterói, Ri, Brazil
3Institute for Technologies Applied to Cultural Heritage, Area della Ricerca Roma 1, Montelibretti, Via Salaria Km. 29.300, CP 10, Monterotondo Street, 00016 Rome, Italy
4National Institute of Nuclear Physics, National Laboratories of Frascati (INFN-LNF), Via Enrico Fermi 40, Frascati, 00044 Rome, Italy
5Art-Test s.a.s, Via del Martello 14, 56121 Pisa, Italy
6Institute of Chemistry of Organometallic Compounds, CNR, Area della Ricerca del CNR di Pisa, Via Galvani 1, 56126 Pisa, Italy
7Department of Earth Sciences, University of Pisa, Via Santa Maria 53, 56126 Pisa, Italy
8Department of Civilizations and Forms of Knowledge, University of Pisa, Via Galvani 1, 56126 Pisa, Italy

Received 30 April 2014; Revised 1 September 2014; Accepted 11 September 2014; Published 8 October 2014

Academic Editor: Ludovic Slimak

Copyright © 2014 Monica Baldassarri et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


An extensive analytical study has been performed on a large number of gold coins (Norman-Swabian Augustale and Tarì, Grosso of Lucca, Florin of Florence) minted in Italy from the end of XII century to XIV century. The X-ray fluorescence (XRF) technique was used for verifying the composition of the coins. XRF is a nondestructive technique particularly suited for in situ quantitative analysis of gold and minor elements in the precious alloy. The Florins turned out to have a gold content very close to 24 carats (pure gold) although in a couple of cases we observed relatively high concentrations of iron (around 2%) or lead (around 1%). The Grosso of Lucca has a similar composition, with a measured gold content around 97% due to a higher silver percentage (about 2%), with respect to the average Florin. The Augustali analyzed showed, on average, a gold content around 89%. The average gold content of the Tarì analysed is around 72%, with a relatively large variability. The analysis revealed the use of native gold for the coinage of the Florins, excluding the possibility of recycling gold coming from other sources. On the other hand, the variability observed in the compositions of the Tarì and Augustali could suggest the reuse of Islamic and North African gold. The study could shed some light on the sudden diffusion of gold coins in Italy around the first half of XIII century, allowing hypotheses on the provenience of the gold used for a coinage that dominated the economic trades from then on.