In 2015, UNESCO launched the global initiative the ‘International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies.’
The applications of light in technology are of course vast, and as the growing field of heritage science demonstrates, these applications can be fundamental to the scientific study of humanity’s shared culture. This is why the SpringerOpen journal Heritage Science looked to celebrate the Year of Light by calling for papers for a themed article collection: “Optical Technologies applied to Cultural Heritage.”
Guest Editing this series was Heritage Science Editorial Board Member Professor Demetrios Anglos of IESL-FORTH and Department of Chemistry, University of Crete, Greece. Well acquainted with the application of light in his research at the Institute of Electronic Structure and Laser and its uses in the study of cultural heritage, Professor Anglos told us:
The Pyramids, the Parthenon, the Mona Lisa and a vast number of heritage masterpieces convey their message to and generate their impact on the observer via an intimate interaction with light. But light does play an important, yet not so profound role, in promoting our tangible heritage through scientific studies.”
Professor Demetrios Anglos
“The Pyramids, the Parthenon, the Mona Lisa and a vast number of heritage masterpieces convey their message to and generate their impact on the observer via an intimate interaction with light. But light does play an important, yet not so profound role, in promoting our tangible heritage through scientific studies. Photons at different frequencies, ranging from the X-rays all the way to radiowaves, may interact with materials and objects via a score of different processes such as absorption, scattering and emission, diffraction, refraction or interference, enabling scientists to visualize the details of key chemical and physical features in heritage objects revealing their secrets, finding traces of their history or their making and in parallel safeguarding the way to a safer future.”
The article collection started publishing this year, and has already presented many high-quality and exciting papers from researchers across the globe. Opening with Pouli et al.‘s work on laser cleaning monuments at the Athens Acropolis, which we blogged about earlier in the year, we also saw Boyatzis et al. study the degradation of aged parchment using spectroscopy, a non-invasive, in situ method that analysed Jackson Pollock’s 1947 masterpiece Alchemy ahead of restoration work at the Guggenheim collection, and, from Prof. Anglos’ group, a methodology using portable lasers to characterize sculptures in Crete from the era of Venetian and Ottoman rule.
Further papers are due to be published in the coming months, so stay tuned for articles on as diverse subjects as antique Chinese maps, ancient Egyptian paintings, and 20th century Japanese calligraphic art.