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Journal of Spectroscopy
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 435026, 10 pages
Research Article

Raman Study on Pompeii Potteries: The Role of Calcium Hydroxide on the Surface Treatment

1Dipartimento di Fisica, Università di Cagliari, s.p. n 8 Km 0.700, Monserrato, 09042 Cagliari, Italy
2Dipartimento di Lettere-Lingue, Letterature e Civilta’ Antiche E Moderne, Università di Perugia, Via Armonica 3, 06123 Perugia, Italy
3Dipartimento di Scienze dell’Antichità, Sapienza Università di Roma, Via dei Volsci 122, 00185 Roma, Italy

Received 28 October 2014; Accepted 17 December 2014; Published 31 December 2014

Academic Editor: Petre Makreski

Copyright © 2014 Daniele Chiriu 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.


Pottery samples from the Pompeii archaeological site were investigated by IR Raman spectroscopy and EDAX measurements. The analysis of the Raman spectra of the surfaces reveals the presence calcium hydroxide (peak at about 780 cm−1) while the calcium carbonate is totally absent. The comparative studies on the carbonation effect of the surfaces were performed on laboratory grown samples of calcium hydroxide. The samples were treated at high temperature and exposed to different ambient conditions, and the analysis suggests that the original surfaces of Roman pottery were scattered by calcium hydroxide (limewash) before the cooking process in the furnace. The result of this surface treatment not only permits a vitrification of the surfaces but also seems to reduce the content of CO2 in the furnace atmosphere and then obtain a more oxidant ambient during the cooking of the pottery. These results give new insights on the real degree of knowledge of the Romans about the art of ceramics and more generally about chemistry and technologies.