Materials Characteristics of Roman and Arabic Mortars and Stuccoes from the Patio De Banderas in the Real Alcazar of Seville (Spain)

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Abstract

This study discusses the materials and traditional knowledge used in the manufacture and application of lime mortars and stuccoes by Romans and Arabs in Seville (southern Iberian Peninsula). All of the samples studied contain calcite as a binder, combined with aggregates based on river sand from the filling materials of the Guadalquivir River's depression, located in the vicinity of the Real Alcazar Palace in Seville, Spain, where the artefacts were discovered. The Romans used high-quality production technology, as evidenced by the careful selection of raw materials as well as by the adequate binder-to-aggregate ratio and the elevated homogeneity of the mortars and stuccoes. The suitable distribution of aggregates resulted in higher density values for Roman fragments than for Arabic ones. Results derived from Arabic samples suggest a decline in technology manufacture over time. This work provides useful information, particularly regarding the Roman and Arabic periods in the Iberian Peninsula. The analytical techniques employed in this study were X-ray diffraction (XRD), X-ray fluorescence (XRF)—using conventional and portable systems, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), petrographic microscopy, differential thermal analysis/thermogravimetry (DTA/TG), particle-size analysis and mercury intrusion porosimetry.

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