Cultural heritage and archaeology materials studied by synchrotron spectroscopy and imaging
Faculty of Sciences. Chemistry
Applied physics A: materials science & processing. - Heidelberg
, p. 377-396
University of Antwerp
The use of synchrotron radiation techniques to study cultural heritage and archaeological materials has undergone a steep increase over the past 10-15 years. The range of materials studied is very broad and encompasses painting materials, stone, glass, ceramics, metals, cellulosic and wooden materials, and a cluster of organic-based materials, in phase with the diversity observed at archaeological sites, museums, historical buildings, etc. Main areas of investigation are: (1) the study of the alteration and corrosion processes, for which the unique non-destructive speciation capabilities of X-ray absorption have proved very beneficial, (2) the understanding of the technologies and identification of the raw materials used to produce archaeological artefacts and art objects and, to a lesser extent, (3) the investigation of current or novel stabilisation, conservation and restoration practices. In terms of the synchrotron methods used, the main focus so far has been on X-ray techniques, primarily X-ray fluorescence, absorption and diffraction, and Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy. We review here the use of these techniques from recent works published in the field demonstrating the breadth of applications and future potential offered by third generation synchrotron techniques. New developments in imaging and advanced spectroscopy, included in the UV/visible and IR ranges, could even broaden the variety of materials studied, in particular by fostering more studies on organic and complex organic-inorganic mixtures, while new support activities at synchrotron facilities might facilitate transfer of knowledge between synchrotron specialists and users from archaeology and cultural heritage sciences.