There was no treasure map available at the end of the 18th century when a small group of farmers in what belonged to Hungary at the time made an amazing discovery: a real gold treasure buried deep underground near their village. Consisting primarily of plates and jugs, 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 to experts.
The guessing is now over. Using the latest microscope technology from Carl Zeiss, scientists have solved this golden mystery. A scanning electron microscope from the optical specialists provided researchers with new insights: the golden dinnerware was most likely produced in the 7th or 8th century. The goldsmith made the mugs from a single piece of metal and adorned the surface with various engravings, utilizing a stamping tool to decorate the precious material. An analysis of the material provided information on the composition of the solder, enabling experts to determine if the same solder was used on all canisters.
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 which enabled an analysis of the valuable objects. In the beginning, the largest specimen chamber was too small — employees from Carl Zeiss and the Vienna Institute for Archaeological Science (VIAS) expanded its width to solve this problem. The investigations faced no more obstacles and we have once again learned a bit more about our history.
June 30, 2009