Lead sheathing of ship hulls in the Roman period: Archaeometallurgical characterisation

Yaacov Kahanov, Dana Ashkenazi

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    An archaeometallurgical analysis of samples of lead sheathing from five ships of the Roman period was carried out in order to determine their composition and microstructure, and to obtain a better understanding of their manufacturing processes. The examinations included optical microscopy of metallographic cross-sections, microhardness tests, scanning electron microscopy, including energy dispersive spectroscopy, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. The results show that the samples were all composed of lead covered with an oxide layer. The sheet thicknesses, microhardness values and microhardness distribution, as well as the grain size distribution, led to the conclusion that all of the sheets were produced by the same technology, using hammering, and were probably used for the same purpose. The presence of antimony was observed in the sample from the Roman ship from Caesarea, which may hint at an Italian (Sardinian) origin of the material, and perhaps of the ship.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)768-774
    Number of pages7
    JournalMaterials Characterization
    Issue number8
    StatePublished - Aug 2011


    • Archaeometallurgy
    • Lead sheathing
    • Roman period
    • Ships' hulls

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Materials Science
    • Condensed Matter Physics
    • Mechanics of Materials
    • Mechanical Engineering


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