Decorated floor tiles from the 19th-century Akko Tower shipwreck (Israel): Analysis of pigments and glaze

D. Ashkenazi, O. Dvir, H. Kravits, S. Klein, D. Cvikel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The Akko Tower shipwreck lies at the entrance to Akko harbour, Israel. It is apparently the remains of a 25-m-long merchant brig, dated to the first half of the 19th century. In four underwater excavation seasons dozens of fragments of decorated floor tiles were found in the shipwreck and retrieved. The tiles were originally about 20 cm square, covered with a white glaze decorated with blue, yellow, orange, green and brown coloured motifs. The tiles were characterized by visual testing, XRF examination, multi-focus light microscopy, SEM-EDS microscopy, EPMA-WDS chemical analysis and lead isotope analysis, in order to study their composition and determine their manufacturing process and dating. The results reveal that the tiles were made of clay with a lead-based glaze coating with decorations of cobalt blue and antimony yellow pigments. Typological evaluation and the use of commercial cobalt blue and antimony yellow pigments, show that the tiles were most probably manufactured in Sicily after 1802 and possibly before 1850. The dating suggests that the ship operated well into the second half of the century.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-174
Number of pages15
JournalDyes and Pigments
Volume147
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The underwater excavations (IAA permits G-23/2012 , G-78/2013 , G-16/2015 and G-25/2016 ) and research of the Akko Tower Wreck are supported by the Israel Science Foundation (grant no. 447/12 ), the Honor Frost Foundation , the Rector and Research Authority of the University of Haifa , and anonymous donors, to whom the authors are grateful.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd

Keywords

  • Akko Tower Wreck
  • Ceramic tiles
  • Clay
  • Glaze
  • Pigments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering (all)
  • Process Chemistry and Technology

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