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Non-Destructive Portable Analytical Techniques for Carbon In Situ Screening Before Sampling for Dating Prehistoric Rock Paintings

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 February 2016

Lucile Beck
Affiliation:
CEA, DEN, Service de Recherches de Métallurgie Physique, Laboratoire JANNUS, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France C2RMF - UMR171 CNRS, Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musées de France, Palais du Louvre, Porte des Lions, 14 quai François Mitterrand, 75001 Paris, France
Dominique Genty
Affiliation:
LSCE, UMR CEA/CNRS 8212, L'Orme des Merisiers CEA Saclay, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex, France
Sophia Lahlil
Affiliation:
C2RMF - UMR171 CNRS, Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musées de France, Palais du Louvre, Porte des Lions, 14 quai François Mitterrand, 75001 Paris, France
Matthieu Lebon
Affiliation:
C2RMF - UMR171 CNRS, Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musées de France, Palais du Louvre, Porte des Lions, 14 quai François Mitterrand, 75001 Paris, France Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Département de Préhistoire, UMR 7194, 1 rue René Panhard, 75013 Paris, France
Florian Tereygeol
Affiliation:
LAPA SIS2M UMR 3299 CEA-Saclay, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex, France
Colette Vignaud
Affiliation:
C2RMF - UMR171 CNRS, Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musées de France, Palais du Louvre, Porte des Lions, 14 quai François Mitterrand, 75001 Paris, France
Ina Reiche
Affiliation:
C2RMF - UMR171 CNRS, Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musées de France, Palais du Louvre, Porte des Lions, 14 quai François Mitterrand, 75001 Paris, France
Elsa Lambert
Affiliation:
C2RMF - UMR171 CNRS, Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musées de France, Palais du Louvre, Porte des Lions, 14 quai François Mitterrand, 75001 Paris, France
Hélène Valladas
Affiliation:
LSCE, UMR CEA/CNRS 8212, L'Orme des Merisiers CEA Saclay, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex, France
Evelyne Kaltnecker
Affiliation:
LSCE, UMR CEA/CNRS 8212, L'Orme des Merisiers CEA Saclay, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex, France
Frédéric Plassard
Affiliation:
S.A.R.L. Grotte de Rouffignac, 24580 Rouffignac-Saint-Cernin, France and Université de Bordeaux, PACEA, UMR 5199, 33400 Talence Cedex, France
Michel Menu
Affiliation:
C2RMF - UMR171 CNRS, Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musées de France, Palais du Louvre, Porte des Lions, 14 quai François Mitterrand, 75001 Paris, France
Patrick Paillet
Affiliation:
Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Département de Préhistoire, UMR 7194, 1 rue René Panhard, 75013 Paris, France
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

Direct dating of prehistoric paintings is playing a major role in Paleolithic art studies. Very few figures can be directly dated since the necessary condition is that they contain organic carbon-based material. Thus, it is very important to check the presence of organic carbon-based material in situ before sampling in order to protect the visual integrity of the paintings or drawings. We have tested and compared 3 different portable analytical systems that can be used in cave environments for detecting carbon in prehistoric paintings: (1) a very compact X-ray fluorescence (XRF) system in Villars Cave (Dordogne, France); (2) a portable micro-Raman spectrometer in Rouffignac Cave (Dordogne, France); and (3) an infrared reflectography camera in both caves. These techniques have been chosen for their non-destructiveness: no sample has to be taken from the rock surface and no contact is made between the probes and the paintings or drawings. The analyses have shown that all the animal figures have been drawn with manganese oxides and cannot be directly dated by radiocarbon. However, carbon has been detected in several spots such as black dots and lines and torch marks. 14C results were obtained from 5 torch marks selected in Villars Cave, with ages between 17.1–18.0 ka cal BP. Three methods were used to identify carbon in black pigments or to confirm the presence of torch marks by carbon detection. Thanks to these new analytical developments, it will be now possible to select more accurately the samples to be taken for 14C dating prehistoric paintings and drawings.

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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © 2013 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona 

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Non-Destructive Portable Analytical Techniques for Carbon In Situ Screening Before Sampling for Dating Prehistoric Rock Paintings
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