Applied Physics A

, Volume 106, Issue 2, pp 377–396 | Cite as

Cultural heritage and archaeology materials studied by synchrotron spectroscopy and imaging

  • Loïc BertrandEmail author
  • Laurianne Robinet
  • Mathieu Thoury
  • Koen Janssens
  • Serge X. Cohen
  • Sebastian Schöder
Invited paper


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.


Synchrotron Radiation Cultural Heritage Archaeological Material Synchrotron Source European Synchrotron Radiation Facility 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors acknowledge the critical reading by B. Berrie (National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, USA). We thank J. Mass (Conservation Department, Winterthur Museum and Country Estate, Winterthur, DE, USA), H. Roemich (Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, USA), J. Hiller (Non-Crystalline Diffraction Beamline, Diamond Light Source, Didcot, UK) and J.-P. Échard (Laboratoire de recherche et de restauration, Musée de la musique, Paris, France) for their comments on the presentation of their work in the manuscript. The IPANEMA platform is jointly developed by CNRS, MNHN, the French Ministry of Culture and Communication and SOLEIL, and benefits from a CPER grant (MESR, Région Île-de-France). Support by the Access to Research Infrastructures activity in the 7th Framework Programme of the EU (CHARISMA Grant Agreement n. 228330) and the NWO Science4Arts programme are acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Loïc Bertrand
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Laurianne Robinet
    • 1
  • Mathieu Thoury
    • 1
    • 3
  • Koen Janssens
    • 4
  • Serge X. Cohen
    • 1
  • Sebastian Schöder
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.IPANEMA UPS 3352 CNRSSynchrotron SOLEILGif-sur-YvetteFrance
  2. 2.Synchrotron SOLEILGif-sur-YvetteFrance
  3. 3.Centre de Recherche sur la Conservation des CollectionsMuséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, USR 3224 CNRSParisFrance
  4. 4.Centre for Micro- and Trace Analysis, Department of ChemistryUniversiteit AntwerpenAntwerpBelgium

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