ABSTRACT

Textural, mineralogical and chemical characterization of archaeological ceramics (zellige) from El Badi Palace (Marrakech, Morocco), the main Islamic monument from the Saadian period (sixteenth century), has been performed to enhance restoration and to determine the technology of manufacturing. A multi-analytical approach based on optical and scanning electron microscopy, cathodoluminescence, X-ray fluorescence and X-ray diffraction was used. Re-firing tests on ceramic supports were also performed to determine the firing temperatures used by the Saadian artisans. A calcareous clay raw material was used to manufacture these decorative ceramics. The sherds were fired at a maximum temperature of 800°C in oxidizing atmosphere. The low firing temperature for ‘zellige’ facilitates cutting of the pieces, but also causes fragility in these materials due to the absence of vitreous phases.

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