A tale of two tiles: Characterization of floor tiles from the nineteenth-century Akko tower Shipwreck (Israel)

Alexandra Inberg, Dana Ashkenazi, Yishai Feldman, Omri Dvir, Deborah Cvikel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fragments of decorated floor tiles were retrieved from the Akko Tower shipwreck, Israel. Most tiles were made of bright brown fired clay with a white glaze decorated with colored stenciled motifs (Type A); and others consisted of a red-brown fired clay body, coated with a brown pigment covered with transparent brown glaze (Type B). This study aimed to characterize the two tile types; to reveal information concerning the manufacturing process; and to determine the origin of their raw material. A multidisciplinary approach was used, including light microscopy, SEM-EDS, electron probe microanalysis with wavelength-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EPMA-WDS), XRD, Raman spectroscopy, and time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (TOF-SIMS) analyses. The characterization of both tile types demonstrated the use of different raw materials. The Type A tiles were covered with tin-opacified majolica glaze and colored with various mixtures of pigments. The blue color was due to pigment rich in cobalt; the yellow color was due to Naples yellow and lead-tin yellow I minerals; and the green, orange, and brown colors were all prepared by mixing the Naples yellow pigment with different minerals. These majolica glaze tiles were probably manufactured in Sicily. The brown coating of the Type B tiles was due to pigment rich in lead and iron minerals. These tiles were produced with different manufacturing processes, and apparently made in France.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1091
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Archaeometry
  • Clay body
  • Floor tiles
  • Glaze coating
  • Pigments
  • Shipwreck

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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