A pioneering X-ray technique that can analyse artefacts of any shape or texture in a non-destructive way has been developed by an international team of scientists. The method uses X-ray diffraction (XRD) in order to determine crystallographic phase information in artefacts with very high accuracy and without causing damage to the object being scanned [Hansford et al. (2017). Acta Cryst. A73, 293-311].
Using the technique, researchers can identify pigments in paintings and on painted objects – which could potentially be applied in the future to help to clamp down on counterfeit artwork and artefacts and verify authenticity.
The research suggests that the non-invasive technique could also eliminate the frequent need to compromise between archaeological questions that can be solved and the analytical methods available to do so.
Dr Graeme Hansford, from the University of Leicester, explained, “What makes this method really unique is that the shape and texture of the sample become immaterial. I expect future studies to make significant contributions to determining the provenance of a range of archaeological objects, and this data will ultimately provide vital context information for museum collections.
“In paintings, the type of pigment used frequently yields useful insights into methods of production and the organisation of ancient industries, as well as restricting the possible date of manufacture. This could help to determine if the provenance of an artefact is as purported.”
The research was supported by the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council.This news story is an excerpt taken from a press release published by the University of Leicester.