Nondestructive metal analysis carried out in cooperation with the Lendület Mobility Research Group is among the success stories of the 60-year-old Budapest Research Reactor

For 60 years now, the Budapest Research Reactor has been operating at the Csillebérc Campus, working with “tamed neutrons” in various important research fields. These include the nondestructive analysis of the records of our cultural heritage, e.g. stone tools, ceramic or metal objects.

For example, prompt-gamma activation (PGAA) and time-of-flight neutron-diffraction (TOF-ND) analyses are used to identify the raw material composition and manufacturing technique of copper and bronze jewels and weapons. Neutron-based imaging methods, e.g. 3D neutron tomography can be used to represent different parts of composite materials in different ways.

The latter, 3D tomography imaging method was used by HAS Centre for Energy Research and the HAS Wigner Research Centre for Physics in the analysis of the Equestrian Bronze Statuette attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, as well as the investigation of Bronze Age artefacts in collaboration with our research team. A moving 3D image of the fragment of a bronze dagger can be viewed in a small film by the HAS Centre for Energy Research (at 1:39).

A 3D neutron tomography image of the bronze dagger from Füzesabony (screenshot from the HAS CER movie)


At the Middle Bronze Age (16th-15th century BC) settlement of Füzesabony-Öregdomb, investigated in our project, several bronze artifacts were found. The neutron tomography and PGA analysis of a small, three-riveted bronze dagger enabled us to distinguish between a corrosion layer characterized by large (8%) tin content and a real, 5.9% bulk tin content.


Examining the bronze dagger and its rivets by 3D tomography imaging (after Szentmiklósi et al. 2018)



Maróti, B., Harsányi, I., Kasztovszky, Zs. Non-destructive Analysis of Bronze objects from Füzesabony-Öregdomb (Appendix). Communicationes Archaeologicae Hungariae 2017, 81–84.

Szathmári, I., Guba, Sz., Kulcsár, G.: New results on the settlement structure of the Füzesabony-Öregdomb Bronze Age tell. Gesta 17/2 (2018) 85–103.

Szathmári, I.: On the metallurgy of the Füzesabony Culture Bronze finds and casting moulds from the Füzesabony Bronze Age tell settlement. Communicationes Archaeologicae Hungariae 2017, 51–84.

Szentmiklósi, L., Maróti, B., Kis, Z., Kasztovszky, Zs: Integration of neutron-based elemental analysis and imaging methods and applications to cultural heritage research. Journal of Archaeological Science Reports 20 (2018) 476–482.