Special Issue "Chemistry for Cultural Heritage"

A special issue of Heritage (ISSN 2571-9408).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 28 February 2022.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Nikolaos Laskaris
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Guest Editor
School of Engineering, University of West Attica, Aegaleo, GR-12241 Athens, Greece
Interests: archaeometry; dating methods in archaeology; analytical techniques; new technologies in cultural heritage; sustainability and cultural heritage
Dr. Georgios Mastrotheodoros
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Guest Editor
Department of Conservation of Antiquities and Works of Art, School of Applied Arts and Culture, University of West Attika, Aegaleo, GR-12243 Attiki, Greece
Interests: analytical investigation of paintings; manuscripts and ancient metals; conservation science; archaeometry
Dr. Maria Kaparou
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Guest Editor
Institute of Nuclear and Particle Physics, NCSR Demokritos, 15310 Athens, Greece
Interests: archaeological science; materials; material culture; new technologies; digital humanities
Dr. Artemios Oikonomou
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Guest Editor
Science and Technology in Archaeology and Culture Research Center (STARC), The Cyprus Institute, 2121 Nicosia, Cyprus
Interests: archaeological science; analysis of inorganic materials; technology and provenance of materials; glass analysis; analytical techniques; SEM-EDS; XRF; LA-ICPMS

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The field of Chemistry is vast and it encompasses a plethora of applications in the field of Cultural Heritage that span- without being limited to- from materials characterization and corrosion studies to provenance studies and dating. Practically, it provides an array of tools in deciphering the past through the study of material cultural remains. Importantly, Chemistry plays a multi-faceted role in studying, understanding, protecting and transmitting the legacy of artifacts, therefore, called to address, via the integration of multiple disciplines, mystifying questions related to unraveling human past.

Applying Chemistry in Cultural Heritage goes well beyond merely yielding information over provenance, dating, technology, manufacturing processes, paleodiet, paleoenvironment and other pertinent issues. The scientific investigation of ancient material remains can shed light to cultures’ economy, trade routes and religion, the exploitation of raw material sources and a lot more, in order to highlight complex socio-economic issues and cross-cultural links. Virtually, it can offer a kaleidoscope of insights into material culture and human history.

Thus, the application of Chemistry on Cultural Heritage by means of interdisciplinary approaches is to serve the scholarly mission of interpreting the human past. This can be achieved by the in-depth study of material remains rendering Cultural Heritage an instrument of cohesion of our global community, and ultimately, an element of wellbeing at an individual and social level.

Hence, Chemistry being central in this Special Issue, novel research applications on Cultural Heritage are welcome. While fostering the study of material culture spanning from prehistory to modern times, this issue is to encapsulate other areas of interest as well. In particular:

  • Clays and ceramics
  • Glass and glazes
  • Metals and alloys
  • Plasters and pigments
  • Chemistry for dating
  • Corrosion issues

Sincerely,

Dr. Nikolaos Laskaris
Dr. Georgios Mastrotheodoros
Dr. Maria Kaparou
Dr. Artemios Oikonomou
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Heritage is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

Article
Production Technology of Glazed Pottery in Chalcis, Euboea, during the Middle Byzantine Period
Heritage 2021, 4(4), 4473-4494; https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage4040247 (registering DOI) - 25 Nov 2021
Viewed by 116
Abstract
This paper focuses on various categories of glazed pottery, which were in circulation in western Euboea (Greece) during the Middle Byzantine and Late Byzantine Periods. The production technology and particularly the surface treatment of Byzantine glazed pottery have been investigated on the basis [...] Read more.
This paper focuses on various categories of glazed pottery, which were in circulation in western Euboea (Greece) during the Middle Byzantine and Late Byzantine Periods. The production technology and particularly the surface treatment of Byzantine glazed pottery have been investigated on the basis of 56 ceramic fragments from a rescue excavation in Orionos street in Chalkis, Euboea. This paper focuses on the manufacture of glazed pottery within the local pottery repertoire of Chalkis, while trying to contextualise the pottery typology and to consider the issues of technology. The chemical analysis by non-invasive energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence (XRF) and Scanning electron microscopy (SEM-EDS) provided information about the compositional variation of the examined glazed ceramics assemblage. Moreover, sections of the samples were examined by optical microscopy and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) in order to determine the microstructure of the samples, as well as the vitrification and the porosity of the ceramic body. Finally, X-ray diffraction (XRD) was applied for qualitative mineralogical analysis indicating presence or absence of high temperature phases and information about firing conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chemistry for Cultural Heritage)
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Article
Materials and Techniques of Selected Mural Paintings on the “Gothic Road” around 1400 (Slovakia)
Heritage 2021, 4(4), 4105-4125; https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage4040226 - 31 Oct 2021
Viewed by 375
Abstract
Mural cycles in the churches of Plešivec, Čhyžné, and Štitnik from around 1400 were studied from the material and technical point of view. Stylistically, they show a mixture of Northern and Southern European stylistic currents, which were characteristic for the time around 1400 [...] Read more.
Mural cycles in the churches of Plešivec, Čhyžné, and Štitnik from around 1400 were studied from the material and technical point of view. Stylistically, they show a mixture of Northern and Southern European stylistic currents, which were characteristic for the time around 1400 in East Central Europe. After a precise study in situ, an analysis of extracted samples was conducted by OM, SEM-EDX, and XRD. The plasters used for these murals were all made of lime and sand with different impurities; importantly, they different among each other in terms of their quality and stability. The pigments that were used in these murals were natural and organic: lime white, yellow and red earths, malachite, and azurite were identified, and some pigment degradations were also pointed out. The principal technique is a fresco, but all murals were finished a secco in different proportions, using an organic binder. Painting procedures and modelling were also studied, revealing a strong difference among all three cycles. The painting technique does not always correspond to the style. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chemistry for Cultural Heritage)
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Article
Iranian Glazed Ceramics of the 12th—Beginning of the 13th Centuries in the Volga Bulgaria
Heritage 2021, 4(4), 3712-3730; https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage4040204 - 20 Oct 2021
Viewed by 392
Abstract
This article is devoted to the analysis of Iranian art ceramics from the monuments of the Volga Bulgaria of the 12th to early 13th centuries. As a historical source, glazed ceramics have great opportunities in determining the directions of trade and cultural links, [...] Read more.
This article is devoted to the analysis of Iranian art ceramics from the monuments of the Volga Bulgaria of the 12th to early 13th centuries. As a historical source, glazed ceramics have great opportunities in determining the directions of trade and cultural links, as well as priorities of intercultural interaction. It is especially important that the materials under consideration were obtained as a result of excavations, which means that they are stratified and provided with an archaeological context. Iranian ceramics are represented by fritware luster, mina’i, and pierced decoration. The study was carried out using morphological and stylistic methods and scanning electron microscopy method (SEM-EDS). Based on the results of the work, the technological characteristics of glazed ceramics, the stability of the craft tradition, and some changes in recipes within the same morphological group have been determined. The dynamics and chronology of the import flow from Iran to the Middle Volga are established, which revealed correspondence to the main stages of urban culture development of the Volga Bulgaria. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chemistry for Cultural Heritage)
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Article
Organic Remains in Early Christian Egyptian Metal Vessels: Investigation with Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy and Gas Chromatography–Mass Spectrometry
Heritage 2021, 4(4), 3611-3629; https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage4040199 - 18 Oct 2021
Viewed by 549
Abstract
Organic remains preserved on eight copper alloy artifacts of the Byzantine Collection of the Benaki Museum with an Egyptian provenance were investigated, implementing a multi-analytical approach combining microscopy-FTIR and GC/MS. The transmission spectra of powder samples provided important information on the vessels regarding [...] Read more.
Organic remains preserved on eight copper alloy artifacts of the Byzantine Collection of the Benaki Museum with an Egyptian provenance were investigated, implementing a multi-analytical approach combining microscopy-FTIR and GC/MS. The transmission spectra of powder samples provided important information on the vessels regarding inorganic and organic components. In the latter case, subsequent extractions with a range of solvents allowed discrimination of components with different polarities and provided data on the suitability of the solvents for the acquisition of more informative spectra. GC/MS was implemented for the detailed characterization of the compounds present in the samples because of the complex nature of the residues preserved. A wide range of fatty acid oxidation products was identified, including a series of α, ω-dicarboxylic acids typical of such remains. In addition, vicinal dihydroxy-docosanoic and dihydroxy-eicosanoic acid, oxidation products of erucic and gondoic acid, respectively, were detected. Both are found in abundance in oils from plants belonging to the Brassicaceae family and imply their multiple uses in medieval Egypt. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chemistry for Cultural Heritage)
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Article
Pottery of Early Iron Age from the Glinjeni II-La Șanț (North-Western Pontic Sea Region): Composition, Technology and Raw Material Sources
Heritage 2021, 4(4), 2853-2875; https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage4040160 - 29 Sep 2021
Viewed by 380
Abstract
Transition to the Early Iron Age was marked by the appearance of innovations such as iron technology and changes in the lifestyle of local societies on the territory of the North-Western Pontic Sea region. One of the most interesting sites of this period [...] Read more.
Transition to the Early Iron Age was marked by the appearance of innovations such as iron technology and changes in the lifestyle of local societies on the territory of the North-Western Pontic Sea region. One of the most interesting sites of this period is the Glinjeni II-La Șanț fortified settlement, located in the Middle Dniester basin (Republic of Moldova). Materials of different cultural traditions belonged to the Cozia-Saharna culture (10th–9th cc. BC) and the Basarabi-Șoldănești culture (8th–beginning of 7th cc. BC) were found on this site. The article presents the results of a multidisciplinary approach to the study of ceramic sherds from these archaeological complexes and cultural layers as well as raw clay sources from this area. The archaeometry analysis, such as the XRF-WD, the thin section analysis, SEM-EDX of ceramics, m-CT of pottery were carried out. The study of ancient pottery through a set of mineralogical and geochemical analytic methods allowed us to obtain new results about ceramic technology in different chronological periods, ceramic paste recipes and firing conditions. Correlation of archaeological and archaeometry data of ceramics from the Glinjeni II-La Șanț site gives us the possibility to differ earlier and later chronological markers in the paste recipes of pottery of 10th–beginning of 7th cc. BC in the region of the Middle Dniester basin. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chemistry for Cultural Heritage)
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Article
A Tale of Two Legacies: Byzantine and Egyptian Influences in the Manufacture and Supply of Glass Tesserae under the Umayyad Caliphate (661–750 AD)
Heritage 2021, 4(4), 2810-2834; https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage4040158 - 29 Sep 2021
Viewed by 372
Abstract
The connection between Umayyad and Byzantine mosaic manufacture is a debated issue: on the one hand, Arab sources report that Umayyad caliphs received craftspeople and materials to adorn religious buildings from the Byzantine emperor; on the other hand, the reliability of these texts [...] Read more.
The connection between Umayyad and Byzantine mosaic manufacture is a debated issue: on the one hand, Arab sources report that Umayyad caliphs received craftspeople and materials to adorn religious buildings from the Byzantine emperor; on the other hand, the reliability of these texts has long been disputed among scholars, and other possible influences have been hypothesised. Was early Islamic mosaic manufacture related to Byzantine tradition and to what extent? Were materials and artisans gathered from Byzantium and/or territories under the Byzantine control? Based on a multi-analytical approach, glass tesserae from Khirbat al-Mafjar, the Great Mosque of Damascus, and the Dome of the Rock have been analysed. Results speak of a tale of two legacies, demonstrating that, parallel to a continuity with the manufacture of glass tesserae in the late antique Levant—pointing, more specifically, to a re-use of materials from abandoned buildings—legacies other than Byzantine occurred. It emerged that Egypt definitively played a role in mosaic making during the Umayyad caliphate, acting as a supplier of skilled artisans and materials. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chemistry for Cultural Heritage)
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Article
Multi-Scale Characterization of Unusual Green and Blue Pigments from the Pharaonic Town of Amara West, Nubia
Heritage 2021, 4(3), 2563-2579; https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage4030145 - 20 Sep 2021
Viewed by 1182
Abstract
Pigments from paint palettes and a grindstone excavated from the pharaonic town of Amara West (c. 1300–1050 BCE), which lies between the Second and Third Cataracts of the Nile, were examined using polarized light microscopy, attenuated total reflection Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR), [...] Read more.
Pigments from paint palettes and a grindstone excavated from the pharaonic town of Amara West (c. 1300–1050 BCE), which lies between the Second and Third Cataracts of the Nile, were examined using polarized light microscopy, attenuated total reflection Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR), X-ray diffraction, and scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy. Most of the pigments were consistent with the typical ancient Egyptian palette, but the greens and some blues were unusual. Two types of green pigment were identified, chlorite (varieties clinochlore and penninite) and copper chloride hydroxide (atacamite type). The former constitutes a type of green earth which has only rarely been identified in pharaonic Egyptian contexts and may be more widespread than is currently reported. The majority of the blue pigment samples were Egyptian blue, but some were found to be a blue earth, the main component of which being sodic amphibole riebeckite. The use of this mineral as a pigment has not previously been reported in any Nile Valley context. These results prompt questions around local and potentially indigenous practices within an ancient colonial context, and highlight avenues for future research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chemistry for Cultural Heritage)
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Article
Chemical Characterization of Pope Pius VII Ancient Ecclesiastical Vestment by a Multi-Analytical Approach
Heritage 2021, 4(3), 1616-1638; https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage4030090 - 06 Aug 2021
Viewed by 469
Abstract
This paper presents a multi-analytical investigation performed for the study of the ecclesiastical vestment, with insignia, of Pope Pius VII, painted from the end of the 18th up to the beginning of the 19th century, made of five clothing elements: chasuble, stole, maniple, [...] Read more.
This paper presents a multi-analytical investigation performed for the study of the ecclesiastical vestment, with insignia, of Pope Pius VII, painted from the end of the 18th up to the beginning of the 19th century, made of five clothing elements: chasuble, stole, maniple, chalice veil and purse. The aim of this research was to assess the conservation state of the silk and painted backgrounds; to define the manufacturing technique of the work; to localize, if present, the underdrawing and any retouching; to identify the pigments and, where possible, the binders used. A diagnostic protocol was developed based on preliminary investigations through multiband imaging techniques known as MBI (visible, ultraviolet-induced visible luminescence (UVL), near-infrared reflected (NIR) and infrared reflected false color (IRRFC) photography). The images acquired with MBI techniques ensured a more specific choice of spots to be analyzed directly in situ by non-invasive techniques. In particular, portable digital optical microscopy and X-ray fluorescence (XRF) were performed. Two fragments detached from the chasuble were also analyzed by microFT-IR, microRaman, scanning electron microscopy (SEM-EDS) and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Application of the multi-analytical protocol enabled the materials used to be characterized and helped to define the peculiar execution technique used. The presence of an underdrawing made with a carbon pencil was highlighted by MBI. Red lakes, iron-based pigments and copper-based pigments have been identified on the painting palette, applied with arabic gum as a binder. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chemistry for Cultural Heritage)
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