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Non-invasive dendrochronology of late-medieval objects in Oslo: refinement of a technique and discoveries

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Abstract

A technique for non-invasive dendrochronological analysis of oak was developed for archaeological material, using an industrial CT scanner. Since 2013, this experience has been extended within the scope of the research project ‘After the Black Death: Painting and Polychrome Sculpture in Norway’. The source material for the project is a collection of late-medieval winged altarpieces, shrines, polychrome sculpture, and fragments from Norwegian churches, which are owned by the Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo. The majority cannot be sampled, and many are too large to fit into the CT scanner. For these reasons, a combined approach was adopted, utilizing CT scanning where possible, but preceded by an ‘exposed-wood’ imaging technique. Both non-invasive techniques have yielded reliable results, and CT scanning has confirmed the reliability of the imaging technique alone. This paper presents the analytical methods, along with results from two of the 13 objects under investigation. Results for reliable dates and provenances provide new foundations for historical interpretations.

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Change history

  • 14 February 2018

    The original version of this article unfortunately contained a mistake.

Notes

  1. 1.

    Streeton and Frøysaker were granted NOK 9 million from the Research Council of Norway for the period 2014–2017 (project number: ES512866). See http://www.hf.uio.no/iakh/english/research/projects/medieval-painting/index.html. Aoife Daly’s dendrochronological research was undertaken within the scope of this project, in collaboration with the Centre for Art Technological Studies and Conservation (CATS), Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen.

  2. 2.

    In addition to wood and structural elements, the gilding, paint and ground layers in the Bygland shrine, Skjervøy altarpiece and two doors from Røldal church (KHM, C5167) have been under investigation since 2013. This material is being prepared for publication by Streeton, Daly, Elena Platania (UiO) and Anna Vila (CATS).

  3. 3.

    This hypothesis is explored in a forthcoming article. See footnote 2.

Abbreviations

ABD:

After the Black Death Painting and Polychrome Sculpture in Norway, 1350–1550

CATS:

Centre for Art Technological Studies and Conservation, Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen

CT scan:

X-ray computed tomography scan

KHM:

Kulturhistorisk museum/Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo

NGI:

Norwegian Geotechnical Institute, Oslo

UiO:

University of Oslo

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Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful to the Research Council of Norway for funding collaborative efforts between Conservation Studies, University of Oslo, and the Centre for Art Technological Studies and Conservation (CATS), Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen. Thanks are due to Heidi Debreczeny Wilkinson, Bjørnar Slensvik and Magnus Soldal (NGI) for their expertise and guidance during CT scanning; to KHM staff, especially Jan Bill for valuable advice and lending his scanning stands, and to Eivind Bratlie for assistance with transporting objects to NGI.

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Correspondence to Aoife Daly.

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A correction to this article is available online at https://doi.org/10.1007/s00339-018-1658-6.

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Daly, A., Streeton, N.L.W. Non-invasive dendrochronology of late-medieval objects in Oslo: refinement of a technique and discoveries. Appl. Phys. A 123, 431 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00339-017-1019-x

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