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Shedding light on the past: Optical technologies applied to cultural heritage

The year 2015 was declared the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies by the United Nations. Light plays an important role in promoting our tangible heritage through scientific studies. Continuous advances in light and photonic technologies, many of them catalysed by the invention of the laser in 1962, have made available a broad set of powerful optical and spectroscopic tools, and researchers have employed them in various analytical studies aiding archaeologists, historians and conservators in their studies and practice.

To celebrate the International Year of Light, Heritage Science presents “Shedding light on the past: Optical Technologies Applied to Cultural Heritage”, a collection of articles themed around the use and significance of light in in the study of our cultural heritage.

Editor: Professor Demetrios Anglos


  1. Research article

    Reflectance imaging spectroscopy and synchrotron radiation X-ray fluorescence mapping used in a technical study of The Blue Room by Pablo Picasso

    The existence of a portrait hidden beneath The Blue Room (1901) by Pablo Picasso prompted a comprehensive technical study of this early Blue period painting. Microanalysis of paint samples was combined with refle...

    Patricia A. Favero, Jennifer Mass, John K. Delaney, Arthur R. Woll, Alyssa M. Hull, Kathryn A. Dooley and Adam C. Finnefrock

    Heritage Science 2017 5:13

    Published on: 22 March 2017

  2. Research article

    Jackson Pollock’s Number 1A, 1948: a non-invasive study using macro-x-ray fluorescence mapping (MA-XRF) and multivariate curve resolution-alternating least squares (MCR-ALS) analysis

    Jackson Pollock’s Number 1A, 1948 painting was investigated using in situ scanning macro-x-ray fluorescence mapping (MA-XRF) to help characterize the artist’s materials and his creative process. A multivariate cu...

    A. Martins, J. Coddington, G. Van der Snickt, B. van Driel, C. McGlinchey, D. Dahlberg, K. Janssens and J. Dik

    Heritage Science 2016 4:33

    Published on: 25 October 2016

  3. Research article

    Spectroscopic analysis used to uncover the original paint colour of the Helsinki Government Palace tower clock faces

    The paint stratigraphy of the two clock faces from the tower clock of the Government Palace in Helsinki (Finland) was analysed in order to determine their original colour before restoration works. Paint cross-...

    Kepa Castro, Ulla Knuutinen, Silvia Fdez-Ortiz de Vallejuelo, Maite Maguregui, Juan Manuel Madariaga and Raili Laakso

    Heritage Science 2016 4:36

    Published on: 22 September 2016

  4. Research article

    The origins of the Selden map of China: scientific analysis of the painting materials and techniques using a holistic approach

    Since the ‘rediscovery’ of the Selden map of China, an early seventeenth century map of Asia, in the Bodleian Library in Oxford, the importance of the map in our understanding of globalisation in the early sev...

    Sotiria Kogou, Sarah Neate, Clare Coveney, Amanda Miles, David Boocock, Lucia Burgio, Chi Shing Cheung and Haida Liang

    Heritage Science 2016 4:28

    Published on: 2 September 2016

  5. Research article

    A multi-technique approach, based on mobile/portable laser instruments, for the in situ pigment characterization of stone sculptures on the island of Crete dating from Venetian and Ottoman period

    A versatile analytical methodology is presented, that combines the application of two mobile laser-based analytical techniques, Raman microscopy and laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS), for the analysi...

    Zoi Eirini Papliaka, Aggelos Philippidis, Panayiotis Siozos, Maria Vakondiou, Kristalia Melessanaki and Demetrios Anglos

    Heritage Science 2016 4:15

    Published on: 20 June 2016

  6. Research article

    A study of the deterioration of aged parchment marked with laboratory iron gall inks using FTIR-ATR spectroscopy and micro hot table

    A great number of historic manuscripts, drawings, etc., many of which are stored and/or exhibited in museums, archives and various collections contain iron gall inks (IGIs) as base scripting material. Although...

    Stamatis C. Boyatzis, Georgia Velivasaki and Ekaterini Malea

    Heritage Science 2016 4:13

    Published on: 11 May 2016

    The Erratum to this article has been published in Heritage Science 2016 4:39

  7. Review

    The two-wavelength laser cleaning methodology; theoretical background and examples from its application on CH objects and monuments with emphasis to the Athens Acropolis sculptures

    The two-wavelength laser cleaning methodology has been introduced and developed in order to meet demanding cleaning challenges in CH. The innovation lies on the combined use of two laser beams, allowing thus c...

    Paraskevi Pouli, Evi Papakonstantinou, Katerina Frantzikinaki, Anastasia Panou, Giasemi Frantzi, Costantinos Vasiliadis and Costas Fotakis

    Heritage Science 2016 4:9

    Published on: 14 April 2016