2000-year-old statue of an athlete sheds light on corrosion, other modern challenges

Jul 08, 2009
A 2000-year-old statue of a Greek athlete sheds new light on corrosion and other modern challenges, scientists report. Credit: The American Chemical Society

The restoration of a 2,000-year-old bronze sculpture of the famed ancient Greek athlete Apoxyomenos may help modern scientists understand how to prevent metal corrosion, discover the safest ways to permanently store nuclear waste, and understand other perplexing problems.

That's the conclusion of a new study on the so-called "biomineralization" of Apoxyomenos appearing in the current issue of ACS' Crystal Growth & Design. Best known as "The Scraper," the statue depicts an athlete scraping sweat and dust from his body with a small curved instrument.

In the report, Davorin Medakovic and colleagues point out that Apoxyomenos was discovered in 1998 on floor of the Adriatic Sea. While the discovery was a bonanza for archaeologists and art historians, it also proved to be an unexpected boon to scientists trying to understand biomineralization. That's the process in which animals and plants use minerals from their surroundings and form shells and bone. Apoxyomenos was encrusted with such deposits.

"As studies of long-term biofouled manmade structures are limited, the finding of an ancient sculpture immersed for two millennia in the sea provided a unique opportunity to probe the long-term impact of a specific artificial substrate on biomineralizng organisms and the effects of biocorrosion," the report said. By evaluating the mineral layers and fossilized organisms on the statue, the researchers were able to evaluate how underwater fouling organisms and communities interacted with the statue as well as how certain mineral deposits on the bronze sculpture slowed its deterioration.

More information: "Biomineralization on an Ancient Sculpture of the Apoxyomenos: Effects of a Metal-Rich Environment on Crystal Growth in Living Organisms," Crystal Growth & Design

Source: American Chemical Society (news : web)

Explore further: Supersonic electrons could produce future solar fuel

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Greek fisherman nets 2,200-year-old bronze statue

Mar 24, 2009

(AP) -- A Greek fisherman must have been expecting a monster of a catch when he brought up his nets in the Aegean Sea last week. Instead, Greek authorities say his haul was a section of a 2,200-year-old bronze ...

Sea urchin yields a key secret of biomineralization

Oct 27, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- The teeth and bones of mammals, the protective shells of mollusks, and the needle-sharp spines of sea urchins and other marine creatures are made-from-scratch wonders of nature.

Mineral kingdom has co-evolved with life

Nov 13, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Evolution isn't just for living organisms. Scientists at the Carnegie Institution have found that the mineral kingdom co-evolved with life, and that up to two thirds of the more than 4,000 ...

Recommended for you

Smart crystallization

1 hour ago

A novel nucleating agent that builds on the concept of molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) could allow crystallographers access to proteins and other biological macromolecules that are usually reluctant ...

Supersonic electrons could produce future solar fuel

2 hours ago

Researchers from institutions including Lund University have taken a step closer to producing solar fuel using artificial photosynthesis. In a new study, they have successfully tracked the electrons' rapid transit through ...

Aerogel catalyst shows promise for fuel cells

4 hours ago

(Phys.org)—Graphene nanoribbons formed into a three-dimensional aerogel and enhanced with boron and nitrogen are excellent catalysts for fuel cells, even in comparison to platinum, according to Rice University ...

Researchers bring clean energy a step closer

Feb 27, 2015

For nearly half a century, scientists have been trying to replace precious metal catalysts in fuel cells. Now, for the first time, researchers at Case Western Reserve University have shown that an inexpensive metal-free catalyst ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

docknowledge
not rated yet Jul 09, 2009
Great picture!

But article doesn't say much that explains significance.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.