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Ancient silver and gilt questions


I have just seen a traveling exhibit on “Ancient Gold” from
Thrace (now Bulgaria). BTW - It is a lovely exhibit. It
travels to Boston next, and then several other US cities. Keep
a look out for it; it is well worth going to see.

NOW – back to my question. There were LOTS of gold pieces, and
even more silver that were partialy gilt. Does anyone have any
idea how the gilt was applied? It seems remarkably permanent to
have been painted on, as may of the pieces dated to 300 to 500

Secondary question – Most of the silver was dark, of a color I
associate most often with firestain, except that it was
relatively even across the entire piece, and had good “depth” –
it didn’t look like random surface oxidation. Is this color
indeed similar to firestain? Deeply oxidized over the last
couple of millenia? If it is similar to firestain, this imples
an alloy, most likely with copper. Would this have been a
natural alloy, or did they know enough about alloying to have
alloyed for color, perhaps? As several of the pieces were of
electrum, I would assume there was some knowledge of alloying.

Can anyone shed light on these (to me) intriguing questions???