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 Institut de Soudure has surveyed a Roman statue found in the river Rhône

 
05/07/2012

 Institut de Soudure and C2MRF have been working together for more than two years to penetrate the welding secrets of the great bronzes from ancient times.

​The research and restoration centre for French museums (Centre de recherche et de restauration des musées de France = C2RMF) has conducted in-depth studies on two ancient bronze statues discovered in 2007 in the Rhône, at Arles: a Captive, knee to the ground and hands pinioned behind his back and a Victory in gilded bronze. These studies provide hitherto unknown details on the techniques used to produce large bronze statuary in ancient times.

With regard to the Captive, the Institut de Soudure has employed modern multi-element ultrasound methods for a better understanding of how the statue's different parts were assembled.

In fact, the metal-worker chose to cut this work up into six parts (the head, the body and the four limbs), using primary castings obtained by the indirect lost wax casting process.

The six parts were then assembled together using a particularly spectacular process for which the know-how has been totally forgotten since those times: welding by fusion of liquid bronze. A secondary casting of bronze is then carried out in a space arranged between the two parts to be joined, with the welding being achieved by local fusion of the edges. Analyses by the Institut de Soudure have highlighted these joins in the form of seam welds punctuated with troughs (areas where the welding metal has accumulated).

The discovery of this technique for putting together large statuary in ancient times is relatively recent and opens up a whole new field of interest for archaeologists and welders.

Alongside the local museum Arles Antique, C2RMF has co-produced a film retracing the discoveries made on the techniques of casting, welding and gilding used on large bronzes in ancient times. This video is shown during the exhibition "Arles, Record of the Rhône, Twenty years of underwater excavations" at the Louvre museum. It can also be viewed on the websites of C2RMF and the local museum Arles Antique.

 

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