A range of sophisticated imaging techniques have been developed in recent years that can reveal the surface structure of cultural heritage objects with varying precision. In combination with various spectroscopic methods, they allow the study of the chemical composition of the object; thus, conclusions can be drawn about the origin of the object or its initial components, method, or time of creation, authenticity, mechanisms of degradation, and ways of further conservation. At present, different techniques can be applied to a wide range of cultural heritage objects, such as varnishes, paintings, archaeological objects, binding media, paper-based documents, parchments, marbles, frescoes, as well as various objects made of leather, fabric, stone, ceramics and glass, wood, or metal. One of the main needs in the study of cultural heritage (CH) is the transportability/portability of the research equipment, since many pieces under investigation cannot be moved to the laboratory, either because of their size, inseparability (for example, frescoes on walls, mural paintings in caves), or the threat of damage. In this work, we briefly overview the main optical- and laser-based methods used for the study of cultural heritage objects indicating the scope of their application, and we focus on the applications of non-linear microscopic methods for the investigation of a series of artifacts. We also discuss all the requirements for the construction of a prototype transportable non-linear optical system that will be used as a novel diagnostic tool for in situ studies of CH assets. The availability of such a transportable workstation will significantly improve the study and characterization of various types of CH objects and will constitute an extremely useful diagnostic tool for heritage scientists dealing with a variety of investigations.
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