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An archaeometric contribution to the characterization of Renaissance maiolica from Urbino and a comparison with coeval maiolica from Pesaro (the Marches, central Italy)



The results of an archaeometric trial study performed on an important finding of Renaissance maiolica (mid-15th to early 16th century) from the Ducal Palace of Urbino are presented. Mineralogical–petrographic data (XRD, OP, SEM–EDS) and chemical characterization (ICP/AES–MS: major and trace elements) of both ceramic bodies and glazes were compared with similar data provided on coeval maiolica found in archaeological excavations in Pesaro, now stored in the city's Municipal Museum, in order to verify an origin of the potteries from common (Pesaro) or different (Pesaro and Urbino) production centres. The results indicate that ceramic bodies were produced with quite similar illitic–calcareous clays, most probably taken from the same local Pliocene Formation. Similarities were also found concerning the glaze's glass (silica–lead), colourants (cobalt, copper and manganese) and pigments (lead antimonate and cassiterite).