Chemical Analysis of an Ancient Roman Curse Tablet

By
Logan Howard
Logan Howard is currently a sophomore biomedical engineering and materials engineering student at Johns Hopkins University. He plans to pursue his Ph. D. in the field of biomaterials following his graduation in 2015.
and
Tabetha Ratliff
Tabetha Ratliff is currently a senior biomedical engineering student graduating in May. After graduation, she plan to work at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and apply for medical school. She plans to become a pediatrician and possibly specialize in dermatology.

A detail of the inscribed curse tablet meant for Plotius, JHUAM 2011.01

Chemical Analysis of Two Ancient Roman Curse Tablets

Two different Roman curse tablets have been analyzed using standard analytical techniques including X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), X-ray diffraction (XRD), Scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and Energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDAX).  The results show that the tablet is mostly lead with small amount of bismuth, aluminum, calcium, gold, and mercury.  X-ray fluorescence (XRF) also showed the material consisted of lead, iron, and tin.  Slight differences were observed between the two samples, mostly in the amount of the minor chemical components.

The speakers will present work completed in collaboration with their student colleagues Jack Aguilar, JP Bouquet, Hannah Jiam, Millie Shah, and Danny Tang.

 

The full presentation can be seen here: