Macquarie University
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Probing beneath the surface: a study of Ancient Egyptian faience

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posted on 2022-03-28, 12:19 authored by Michelle Whitford
Ancient Egyptian faience is a material of many mysteries. There is limited knowledge on the receipes and manufacturing processes used to craft it. This unfortunately has led to a lack of information about faience, unsatisfactory conservation methods, and confusion about the provenance of artefacts. This thesis focuses on developing a rigorous understanding of three sets of faience artefacts. Analysis into the chemical composition of faience reveals that there are key elements used to produce different coloured artefacts. These elements are then matched to potential minerals and mineral sources, and also linked to specific time periods throughout Ancient Egypt. All three artefact sets are dated to an historical period. Next, the ageing process of faience are investigated. Ageing in the form of alkali and alkaline leaching is observed in two of the three sets of artefacts, prompting a discussion about fraudulent artefacts. These results provide the first known investigation into the authentication of faience artefacts. A vast majority of Ancient Egyptian artefacts are displaced and have no historical context. Using TOF-SIMS analysis, all three artefact sets were shown to appear distinct when characterised by origin. This is the first time determining the origin of faience has been demonstrated to be possible.


Table of Contents

1 Introduction -- 2 Perspectives on Egyptian faience -- 3 Experimental Method -- 4 An artefact of any colour would look as sweet -- 5 The recent or entire history of an artefact? -- 6 When is an Egyptian artefact not an Egyptian artefact? -- 7 Conclusions and future work.


Bibliography: pages 59-63 Theoretical thesis.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Science and Engineering , Department of Physics and Astronomy

Department, Centre or School

Department of Physics and Astronomy

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Mick Withford

Additional Supervisor 1

Yann Tristant

Additional Supervisor 2

Karl Van Dyke


Copyright Michelle Whitford 2016. Copyright disclaimer:




1 online resource (xii, 63 pages) colour illustrations

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