Netherlands Institute for Conservation, Art and Science

Copper in the Dutch Golden Age

Chalcochronology: the chemical composition of copper through time

This PhD project deals with the technological history of the use of copper and its alloys, particularly in the Dutch Republic during the Golden Age period. 

The copper produced by the major early modern mines can be distinguished by comparing the amounts and proportions of impurities. Based on the chemical analysis of a large number of well provenanced and dated objects, such as copper coins, cannons or church bells, this project will establish a detailed view of market availability through time and preferential use of copper from different mines.

This overview is relevant to future research dealing with the provenance of copper-based objects and improves our understanding of historic material processing in general.


18th century Notgeld, or emergency money, circulated on Ceylon (Sri Lanka) by the Dutch East India company. The coin is made from a bar of Japanese copper, imported into the Netherlands in significant amounts.

Principal researcher

Arie Pappot (University of Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum)

Type of project


Participating researchers

  • Frits Scholten (supervisor)

Institutions involved

  • University of Amsterdam
  • Rijksmuseum


Published by  NICAS

14 November 2017