Scientific Results

Non-invasive mapping methods for pigments analysis of Roman mural paintings

Year: 2019

Authors: Dal Fovo A., Mazzinghi A., Omarini S., Pampaloni E., Ruberto C., Striova J.,
Fontana R.

Autors Affiliation: CNR-INO Istituto Nazionale di Ottica, Largo E. Fermi 6, 50125 Florence (IT), Italy
INFN Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare, Via B. Rossi 1, 50019 Sesto Fiorentino (IT), Italy
Università degli Studi di Firenze, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Via G. Sansone 1, 50019 Sesto Fiorentino (IT)

Abstract: The analysis of archaeological mural paintings may provide relevant information on the artistic techniques
and the pictorial materials used in the past, expanding the knowledge of customs and technologies of ancient
societies. Given their location, fragility and value, it is generally required to analyze mural paintings in situ,
avoiding contact measurements, sampling or pre-treatments.
In this work, a number of polychrome fragments from two recently discovered Roman villas have been
studied with three non-invasive techniques, making use of transportable devices: Macro X-ray Fluorescence
(MA-XRF) elemental mapping, multispectral scanning reflectography, and Fibre Optics Reflectance Spectroscopy
(FORS). Specifically, the MA-XRF elemental maps were compared with the spectral correlation
maps (SCM) computed from the Vis-NIR images acquired with the multispectral scanner, with the aim of
displaying the distributions of the different pictorial materials, while assessing the chemical composition of
the pigments present. The combined application of the two former mapping/imaging techniques represents a
valid tool for the chemical and spectral characterization of archaeological paintings, providing easy-to-interpret
data for the professionals involved in the conservation of Cultural Heritage.


KeyWords: Archaeological paintings
A secco paintings
Multispectral scanning reflectography
Spectral correlation mapping