DOI: 10.1515/opar-2022-0336 ISSN: 2300-6560

Synopsis of a Treasure. A Transdisciplinary Study of Medieval Gold Workings Biographies

Stefania Martiniello, Antonella Capitanio, Claudia Sciuto, Stefano Legnaioli, Simona Raneri
  • Education
  • Archeology
  • Conservation


The article aims to show how a transdisciplinary approach can contribute to a better understanding of the composite biography of a precious object. The study focuses on the Cintola del Duomo (Museum of the Opera del Duomo, Pisa), one of the most famous objects in the history of goldsmithing, both for its exceptional manufacturing quality and for its devotional value. For a long time, the Cintola was considered a fragment of a long garland – decorated with precious stones, enamel, and silver plates – that was displayed on the façade of the Cathedral on certain days of the liturgical calendar. Detailed historical studies suggested that the garland was lost in the early 1300s, while the object now in the museum is more likely to be a reconstruction, decorated with ancient and modern gems. In situ diagnostic campaigns were carried out on the garland using portable Raman spectroscopy (i-Raman, B&W Tek) and portable X-Ray fluorescnece (XRF) (Elio, Bruker) to reveal the identity of the gems and enamels preliminarily studied by gemmological analysis. The combination of analytical techniques made it possible to better outline the complex history of the artefacts. The analysis provided information on the identity of the gems, proposing an interesting question about their possible relationship with the crown of Henry VII of Luxembourg (in the same museum). The study includes aspects related to the materiality of the objects, revealing the socio-cultural context in which the object was produced and supporting its recontextualisation in the museum as a symbolic representation of the past.

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