Chemical Mapping of Ancient Artifacts and Fossils with X-Ray Spectroscopy

  • Uwe BergmannEmail author
  • Loïc Bertrand
  • Nicholas P. Edwards
  • Phillip L. Manning
  • Roy A. Wogelius
Living reference work entry


The use of synchrotron radiation for the study of ancient objects has seen a significant increase over the last decade. Many of the major synchrotrons now have expertise and instrumentation that are specialized for the study of ancient objects. After giving an overview of these capabilities in the introduction, we focus in this chapter on synchrotron-rapid-scanning X-ray fluorescence (SRS-XRF) imaging of large objects to uncover ancient writings and chemical preservation in fossils. We will also describe the applications of X-ray absorption spectroscopy and new developments in X-ray Raman scattering, which are used to complement SRS-XRF mapping.


Ancient materials Ancient writings Cultural heritage Paleontology Fossils Archimedes Palimpsest Archaeopteryx Synchrotron radiation X-ray fluorescence imaging X-ray absorption spectroscopy X-ray Raman scattering 



This work is based on the joint efforts of several research teams, and we want to thank all of our collaborators. We would like to thank the owners of the artifacts for supporting this research. The studies were carried out at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource, the Synchrotron SOLEIL, and the Diamond Light Source. We are very grateful to the kind support of our science colleagues as well as the support from the engineering, technical, and administrative staff at these facilities. Funding for NPE was made available by the UK EPSRC funding council under the Innovate Programme and by the SSRL Structural Molecular Biology Program, supported by the DOE Office of Biological and Environmental Research and the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of General Medical Sciences (including P41GM103393). PLM thanks the Science and Technology Facilities Council for the continued support (ST/M001814/1). Additional Funding was provided by a UK Natural Environment Research Council grant NE/J023426/1. LB acknowledges support from Région Île-de-France/DIM Matériaux anciens et patrimoniaux and from the European Commission programs IPERION CH and E-RIHS PP (GA. 654028 and 739503). Funding for the SSRL 6-2 instrument was provided by the Bruce Leak and Sandra Fairon Stanford PULSE Institute Fund. The use of the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, is supported by the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, under contract no. DE-AC02-76SF00515.



Differential phase contrast imaging


Electron volt


Extended X-ray absorption fine structure


Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy


High-energy resolution fluorescence detection


High performance liquid chromatography


Kiloelectron volt


Lowest unoccupied molecular orbital


X-ray nano computed tomography


Near-edge X-ray absorption fine structure spectroscopy


X-ray phase-contrast computed tomography


Momentum transfer


Small angle X-ray scattering


Scanning transmission X-ray microscopy


Time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry


Wide-angle X-ray scattering


X-ray absorption near-edge structure


X-ray absorption spectroscopy


X-ray-excited optical luminescence


X-ray diffraction


X-ray fluorescence


X-ray raman scattering


X-ray micro computed tomography


Micro X-ray fluorescence


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Uwe Bergmann
    • 1
    Email author
  • Loïc Bertrand
    • 2
    • 3
  • Nicholas P. Edwards
    • 4
  • Phillip L. Manning
    • 5
  • Roy A. Wogelius
    • 5
  1. 1.Stanford PULSE Institute, SLAC National Accelerator LaboratoryMenlo ParkUSA
  2. 2.IPANEMA CNRS MIC UVSQUniversité Paris-SaclayGif-sur-YvetteFrance
  3. 3.Synchrotron SOLEILGif-sur-YvetteFrance
  4. 4.Stanford Synchrotron Radiation LightsourceSLAC National Accelerator LaboratoryMenlo ParkUSA
  5. 5.School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Interdisciplinary Centre for Ancient LifeUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK

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