The first fake? Imitation turquoise beads recovered from a Syrian neolithic site, Tell el-Kerkh

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Publication Type:

Journal Article


Taniguchi, Y.; Hirao, Y.; Shimadzu, Y.; Tsuneki, A.;


Studies in Conservation, Volume 47, Number 3, p.175-183 (2002)


Three turquoise-blue beads from a Syrian Neolithic site, Tell el-Kerkh, were investigated by micro x-ray fluorescence, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, x-ray diffraction, spectrophotometry, and scanning electron microscopy. The results from the analyses and laboratory experiments indicated that the blue beads were an alternative to and imitation of natural turquoise beads. They are formed of an apatite core with a turquoise color obtained probably by the heating of manganese or iron compounds. The microstructure and chemical composition of the beads indicate the use of mammal tooth or tusk, possibly "odontolite" (fossil ivory). The technique used to produce these blue beads is a precursor to the development of glazing.