Carl Zeiss unravels mysteries

Did You Know…

…that ZEISS Unravels Mysteries?

There was no treasure map available at the end of the 18th century when a small group of farmers in what was part of Hungary at the time happened to make an amazing discovery: A genuine gold treasure was buried deep underground near their village. Consisting primarily of plates and mugs, the 23-part set weighing almost ten kilograms is exquisitely decorated and features remarkable craftsmanship and artistic quality. However, the origin and true age of this find remained a mystery for a long time – even for experts.

The guessing is now over. Using state-of-the-art microscope technology from ZEISS, scientists have solved this golden mystery. A scanning electron microscope from the optical specialists provided researchers with new insights: the golden dinnerware was likely produced in the 7th or 8th century. The goldsmith made the mugs from a single piece of gold and then adorned the surface with various engravings, using a stamping tool to emboss designs in the precious metal. An analysis of the material provided information on the composition of the solder,enabling experts to determine whether the same solder was used on all mugs.

Why were researchers unable to ascertain this information using a traditional microscope? Non-destructive examination methods are the only way to completely guarantee that archaeological finds are not damaged. The scanning electron microscope features an enlarged specimen chamber, in which each valuable plate and mug were individually examined. Initially, even the largest specimen chamber was too small – employees from ZEISS and the Vienna Institute for Archaeological Science (VIAS) solved this problem by expanding its width. The investigations faced no more obstacles after that, and so we again learned a little bit more about our history.

30 June 2009