The Strange Case of the Nuragic Offerers Bronze Statuettes: A Multi-Analytical Study

Antonio Brunetti, Marta Porcaro, Sergio Lins, Francesco Di Gennaro, Rosario Maria Anzalone, Mario Mineo, Anna Depalmas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Nuragic civilization (Sardinia, Italy, XVIII–VIII B.C) developed a flourishing bronze metallurgy with strong connections with other civilizations from the Mediterranean basin. Within the large bronze production, there are some peculiar representations of human figures, known in the archaeological environment of Sardinia as bronzetti, depicting warriors, priests, and offerers. In this paper, an interesting couple of Nuragic statuettes representing offerers, one from the Pigorini Museum in Rome and another from the Musei Reali in Turin, were analyzed. They have been investigated with X-ray fluorescence integrated with Monte Carlo simulations (XRF-MC). The combined methodology provides more accurate results, ranging from the structural characterization to the identification of the corrosion layers to the estimation of the composition of the alloy of the artifact. One of the most striking results regards the heads of the offerers: both heads are covered with a thick iron-based layer, even though the whole artifacts are made of a copper alloy. To understand the reason behind this peculiar corrosion patina, several hypotheses have been considered, including the possibility that these iron mineralizations are the consequence of an ancient superficial treatment, intending to confer a chromatic effect on the figurine’s head.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4174
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • NDT
  • XRF
  • cultural heritage
  • nuragic bronze

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • General Materials Science


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