Special Issue "Optical Technologies Applied to Cultural Heritage"

A special issue of Heritage (ISSN 2571-9408). This special issue belongs to the section "Cultural Heritage".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Daniel Vazquez-Molini
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Professor Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Arcos del Jalón 118, 28037 Madrid, Spain
Interests: optics design; lighting; color; cultural heritage
Dr. Antonio Alvarez Fernandez-Balbuena
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Facultad de Óptica, University Complutense of Madrid, Arcos de Jalon 118, 28037 Madrid, Spain
Interests: lighting; colour; cultural heritage damage; virtual photonic restoration

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The role of Cultural Heritage in the society is of major importance thus it is the glue that makes the people understand what we are and what we did in the past.

The optical technologies play a major role in promoting Cultural Heritage, light is the main optical resource to show Cultural Heritage but other optical technologies are implied and essential to Cultural Heritage preservation.

The aim of this special issue is to show optical technologies related to cultural heritage in the way it is used to show, preserve, characterize and put in value an important item like Cultural Heritage.

The scope of this journal will be:

  • Photonic restoration
  • Spectroscopy analysis
  • Light and damage
  • Hyperspectral image acquisition and processing
  • Light based techniques characterization (optical microscopy, FTIR, Raman, X-ray…)
  • Colour and visual implications
Prof. Daniel Vazquez-Molini 
Dr. Antonio Alvarez Fernandez-Balbuena
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 1400 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.

Keywords

  • Light damage
  • Cultural heritage
  • Curator
  • Optical analysis
  • Lighting and colour

Published Papers (13 papers)

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Research

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Article
Multi-Camera Workflow Applied to a Cultural Heritage Building: Alhambra’s Torre de la Cautiva from the Inside
Heritage 2022, 5(1), 21-41; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/heritage5010002 - 22 Dec 2021
Viewed by 414
Abstract
It is increasingly necessary to generate accessible and navigable digital representations of historical or heritage buildings. This article explains the workflow that was applied to create such a digital component for one of the least accessible areas of the Alhambra palace in Granada, [...] Read more.
It is increasingly necessary to generate accessible and navigable digital representations of historical or heritage buildings. This article explains the workflow that was applied to create such a digital component for one of the least accessible areas of the Alhambra palace in Granada, the so-called Torre de la Cautiva (Tower of the Captive). The main goal of this process was to create affordable, photorealistic 3D models that contribute to the dissemination of cultural heritage, the decision making for its conservation and restoration, and public engagement and entertainment. With enough preparation, the time spent gathering data following a Structure from Motion (SfM) approach can be significantly reduced by using a multi-camera (low cost DSLR) photogrammetric strategy. Without the possibility of artificial lighting, it was essential to use RAW images and calibrate the color in the scene for material and texture characterization. Through processing, the amount of data was reduced by optimizing the model’s topology. Thus, a photorealistic result was obtained that could be managed and visualized in immersive Visual Reality (VR) environments, simulating different historical periods and environmental and lighting conditions. The potential of this method allows, with slight modifications, the creation of HBIMs and the adaptation to VR systems development, whose current visualization quality is below the resolution of actionable models in rendering engines. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optical Technologies Applied to Cultural Heritage)
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Article
Technical Non-Invasive Study of an 18th Century Novo-Hispanic Panel Painting
Heritage 2021, 4(4), 3676-3696; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/heritage4040202 - 19 Oct 2021
Viewed by 387
Abstract
Purísima Concepción, a large-format and unusual panel painting attributed to the 18th century, based on style and the common aspect of the visual tradition of the Virgin Mary found in the Viceroyalty of New Spain, is sheltered at the Museo Ex-convento San [...] Read more.
Purísima Concepción, a large-format and unusual panel painting attributed to the 18th century, based on style and the common aspect of the visual tradition of the Virgin Mary found in the Viceroyalty of New Spain, is sheltered at the Museo Ex-convento San Agustín Acolman-INAH, México, an institution opened in late 1920, and one of the oldest museums in México. In this work, we present the material characterization of the surface layer of the painting by means of a non-invasive methodology, resulting from the combination of imaging and spectroscopic techniques. Analysis of hyperspectral images employing methods such as spectral angle mapper and principal component analysis allowed us to describe spatial distribution of the pigments and manufacturing methods, while XRF and FORS allowed us to record the complex and diverse color palette employed to achieve effects such as brightness, hue, saturation, and even the covering power of this painting. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optical Technologies Applied to Cultural Heritage)
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Article
Things Always Come in Three: Non-Invasive Investigations of Alexander and Roxane’s Wedding Room in Villa Farnesina
Heritage 2021, 4(4), 2792-2809; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/heritage4040157 - 29 Sep 2021
Viewed by 270
Abstract
Non-invasive optical spectroscopical analyses were conducted on the three main walls of Alexander and Roxane’s Wedding Room in Villa Farnesina, Rome. The north and the east walls were frescoed by Sodoma in 1519. The decoration of the third wall was subsequent and neither [...] Read more.
Non-invasive optical spectroscopical analyses were conducted on the three main walls of Alexander and Roxane’s Wedding Room in Villa Farnesina, Rome. The north and the east walls were frescoed by Sodoma in 1519. The decoration of the third wall was subsequent and neither the author nor the period is known. The north and east walls underwent various restorations, some even very invasive. For these reasons, the supposed remaining original parts of the two walls by Sodoma were studied and compared with the third one, aiming to obtain more information about its author and epoch. The results show the use of the same pigments for the three walls. In particular, the same yellow pigments including lead antimonate, the use of enamel blue with Bi impurities whose use is time-limited, and the use of a certain kind of purple hematite. The commonality in the pictorial technique also emerged, especially in the yellow parts, painted in the same way on each wall. This information, and documentary sources, reinforce the hypothesis that the third wall was decorated shortly after the death of Agostino Chigi by someone who was well-acquainted with the materials and techniques used by Sodoma for the other two walls. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optical Technologies Applied to Cultural Heritage)
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Article
Retrieving Tarnished Daguerreotype Content Using X-ray Fluorescence Imaging—Recent Observations on the Effect of Chemical and Electrochemical Cleaning Methods
Heritage 2021, 4(3), 1605-1615; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/heritage4030089 - 05 Aug 2021
Viewed by 534
Abstract
We report a study on the effect of chemical and electrochemical cleaning of tarnished daguerreotypes observed using X-ray fluorescence (XRF) microscopy with a micro-focussed X-ray beam from a synchrotron source. It has been found that, while both techniques result in some success depending [...] Read more.
We report a study on the effect of chemical and electrochemical cleaning of tarnished daguerreotypes observed using X-ray fluorescence (XRF) microscopy with a micro-focussed X-ray beam from a synchrotron source. It has been found that, while both techniques result in some success depending on the condition of the plate and the experimental parameters (chemical concentration, voltage, current, etc.) the effect varies, and cleaning is often incomplete. The XRF images using Hg Lα,β at an excitation energy just above the L3 edge threshold produce fine images, regardless of the treatment. This finding confirms previous observations that if the bulk of the image particles remains intact, the surface tarnish has little effect on the quality of the original daguerreotype image retrievable from XRF. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optical Technologies Applied to Cultural Heritage)
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Article
Characterizing Color Quality, Damage to Artwork, and Light Intensity of Multi-Primary LEDs for Museums
Heritage 2021, 4(1), 188-197; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/heritage4010011 - 17 Jan 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 756
Abstract
Light causes damage when it is absorbed by sensitive artwork, such as oil paintings. However, light is needed to initiate vision and display artwork. The dilemma between visibility and damage, coupled with the inverse relationship between color quality and energy efficiency, poses a [...] Read more.
Light causes damage when it is absorbed by sensitive artwork, such as oil paintings. However, light is needed to initiate vision and display artwork. The dilemma between visibility and damage, coupled with the inverse relationship between color quality and energy efficiency, poses a challenge for curators, conservators, and lighting designers in identifying optimal light sources. Multi-primary LEDs can provide great flexibility in terms of color quality, damage reduction, and energy efficiency for artwork illumination. However, there are no established metrics that quantify the output variability or highlight the trade-offs between different metrics. Here, various metrics related to museum lighting (damage, the color quality of paintings, illuminance, luminous efficacy of radiation) are analyzed using a voxelated 3-D volume. The continuous data in each dimension of the 3-D volume are converted to discrete data by identifying a significant minimum value (unit voxel). Resulting discretized 3-D volumes display the trade-offs between selected measures. It is possible to quantify the volume of the graph by summing unique voxels, which enables comparison of the performance of different light sources. The proposed representation model can be used for individual pigments or paintings with numerous pigments. The proposed method can be the foundation of a damage appearance model (DAM). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optical Technologies Applied to Cultural Heritage)
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Article
Quantitative Assessment of Impact and Sensitivity of Imaging Spectroscopy for Monitoring of Ageing of Archival Documents
Heritage 2021, 4(1), 105-124; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/heritage4010006 - 12 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 719
Abstract
Ageing of historical documents often results in changes in the optical properties of the constituent materials. Imaging spectroscopy (IS) can be a valuable tool for monitoring of such changes, if the method fulfils two important conditions. Firstly, compared to natural ageing, the accumulated [...] Read more.
Ageing of historical documents often results in changes in the optical properties of the constituent materials. Imaging spectroscopy (IS) can be a valuable tool for monitoring of such changes, if the method fulfils two important conditions. Firstly, compared to natural ageing, the accumulated light dose from repeated measurements of the monitored document must not induce any significant degradation. Secondly, the monitoring instrumentation and procedures should be sensitive enough to detect changes in the materials before they become visible. We present experimental methods to evaluate the suitability of IS instrumentation for monitoring purposes. In the first set of experiments, the impact of repeated monitoring measurements was determined using a set of Blue Wool Standard materials. In the second set of experiments, the capability of the instrument to detect spectral changes was tested using ISO standard materials and several documents representative of European archive collections. It is concluded that the tested hyperspectral instrument is suitable for monitoring of the colour change of documents during display. The described experimental approach can be recommended to test the suitability of other imaging spectroscopy instruments for monitoring applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optical Technologies Applied to Cultural Heritage)
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Article
By the Hand of Angelos? Analytical Investigation of a Remarkable 15th Century Cretan Icon
Heritage 2020, 3(4), 1360-1372; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/heritage3040075 - 16 Nov 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1068
Abstract
A 15th century St Theodoros icon of outstanding quality is on display at the Zakynthos Ecclesiastical Art Museum. On the basis of certain stylistic characteristics, this icon has been attributed to the legendary Cretan painter Angelos Akotantos. In order to explore the latter [...] Read more.
A 15th century St Theodoros icon of outstanding quality is on display at the Zakynthos Ecclesiastical Art Museum. On the basis of certain stylistic characteristics, this icon has been attributed to the legendary Cretan painter Angelos Akotantos. In order to explore the latter attribution, the icon was subjected to examination via multispectral imaging, while microsamples were investigated through an optical microscope (OM), a scanning electron microscope coupled with an energy dispersive analyzer (SEM-EDX), μ-Raman and X-ray diffraction (XRD). The data were evaluated in the light of the findings of recent analytical studies conducted on several genuine Angelos icons. Identified materials include gypsum, gold leaf, bole, natural ultramarine, lead white, charcoal, green earth, red lake, minium, cinnabar, and red and yellow ochres. The identified materials resemble those employed by Angelos, while the identification of ultramarine is of particular significance, as this extremely expensive and rather rare pigment was very often used by the particular painter. Moreover, multispectral imaging reveals notable painting technique similarities between the icon in consideration and known Angelos icons, while cross sections of corresponding samples exhibit almost identical structures. Overall, the present work considerably strengthens the suggestion that the St Theodoros icon in consideration was painted by Angelos and also widens our knowledge regarding the late Byzantine painting. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optical Technologies Applied to Cultural Heritage)
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Article
Ag-Nanostars for the Sensitive SERS Detection of Dyes in Artistic Cross-Sections—Madonna della Misericordia of the National Gallery of Parma: A Case Study
Heritage 2020, 3(4), 1344-1359; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/heritage3040074 - 12 Nov 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1107
Abstract
In historical paintings, the detection of low amounts of pigments and dyes by Raman spectroscopy can sometimes be challenging, in particular for fluorescent dyes. This issue can be overcome by using SERS (surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy) which takes advantage of the properties of nanostructured [...] Read more.
In historical paintings, the detection of low amounts of pigments and dyes by Raman spectroscopy can sometimes be challenging, in particular for fluorescent dyes. This issue can be overcome by using SERS (surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy) which takes advantage of the properties of nanostructured metal surfaces to quench fluorescence and enhance Raman signals. In this work, silver nanostars (AgNSs) are applied for the first time to real art samples, in particular to painting cross-sections, exploiting their effective SERS properties for pigment identification. The case study is the Madonna della Misericordia of the National Gallery of Parma (Italy). Cross-sections were analyzed at first by optical microscopy, SEM-EDS, and micro-Raman spectroscopy. Unfortunately, in some cross-sections, the application of conventional Raman spectroscopy was hindered by an intense background fluorescence. Therefore, AgNSs were deposited and used as SERS-active agent. The experimentation was successful, allowing us to identify a modern dye, namely copper phthalocyanine. This result, together with the detection of other modern pigments (titanium white) and expert visual examination, allowed to reconstruct the painting history, postdating its realization from the 15th century (according to the Gallery inventory) to 19th century with a heavy role of recent (middle 20th century) restoration interventions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optical Technologies Applied to Cultural Heritage)
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Article
Exploring the Dzi Bead with Synchrotron Light: XRD, XRF Imaging and μ-XANES Analysis
Heritage 2020, 3(3), 1035-1045; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/heritage3030056 - 15 Sep 2020
Viewed by 1356
Abstract
The origin of Dzi beads, also called “tian zhu”, has always been a mystery. These beads come in a variety of patterns, shapes and sizes. They have cultural and heritage significance in Tibet and areas surrounding the Himalayas. The most recognized beads are [...] Read more.
The origin of Dzi beads, also called “tian zhu”, has always been a mystery. These beads come in a variety of patterns, shapes and sizes. They have cultural and heritage significance in Tibet and areas surrounding the Himalayas. The most recognized beads are those with the “eye” pattern. They are said to ward off evil spirits. Due to their reputation, the demand for Dzi beads has increased in Asia. Herein, we report a study of a Dzi bead with a three-eye pattern using X-ray diffraction (XRD), X-ray fluorescence (XRF), X-ray absorption near edge structure (XANES) and imaging techniques. This is a novel area for Dzi bead research using X-rays from a synchrotron light source to determine the chemical composition of the bead, if the pattern is natural or man-made or if the bead is genuine or a replica. These techniques revealed the bead to be composed of agate (silicon dioxide). An interesting feature on the bead’s surface was the etched rings, which were observed to contain regular copper hot spots on their circumference. Our results suggest that the Dzi bead was genuine and started out as an earth-formed agate, with the pattern crafted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optical Technologies Applied to Cultural Heritage)
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Article
Investigation of the Pigments and Glassy Matrix of Painted Enamelled Qing Dynasty Chinese Porcelains by Noninvasive On-Site Raman Microspectrometry
Heritage 2020, 3(3), 915-940; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/heritage3030050 - 17 Aug 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1527
Abstract
A selection of 15 Chinese painted enameled porcelains from the 18th century (Qing dynasty) was analyzed on-site by mobile Raman and XRF microspectroscopy. The highly prized artifacts are present in the collections of the Musée du Louvre in Paris and Musée Chinois at [...] Read more.
A selection of 15 Chinese painted enameled porcelains from the 18th century (Qing dynasty) was analyzed on-site by mobile Raman and XRF microspectroscopy. The highly prized artifacts are present in the collections of the Musée du Louvre in Paris and Musée Chinois at Fontainebleau Castle in France. In the painted enamels, pigments such as Naples yellow lead pyrochlore, hematite, manganese oxide and carbon and opacifiers such as lead arsenates were detected. The glassy matrices of the enamels mainly belonged to lead-rich and lead-alkali glass types according to the Raman spectra obtained. The glaze and body phases of the porcelain artifacts were also analyzed. The detection of lead arsenate apatite in some of the blue enamels was significant, indicating the use of arsenic-rich European cobalt ores (smalt) and possibly mixing with Asian cobalt. This characteristic phase has also been identified in French soft-paste porcelains and glass decor and high-quality Limoges enamels from the same period. Based on the shape of the Raman scattering background, the presence of colloidal gold (Au° nanoparticles) was identified in red, orange and pink enamels. Different types of Naples yellow pigments were also detected with Sb-rich, Sn-rich and mixed Sb–Sn–(Zn, Fe?) compositions in the yellow enamels. The results were compared to previous data obtained on Chinese cloisonné and painted enameled metalware and Limoges enamels as well as French enameled watches. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optical Technologies Applied to Cultural Heritage)
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Article
On-Site VIS-NIR Spectral Reflectance and Colour Measurements—A Fast and Inexpensive Alternative for Delineating Sediment Layers Quantitatively? A Case Study from a Monumental Bronze Age Burial Mound (Seddin, Germany)
Heritage 2020, 3(2), 528-548; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/heritage3020031 - 25 Jun 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1355
Abstract
Quantitative sediment analyses performed in the laboratory are often used throughout archaeological excavations to critically reflect on-site stratigraphic delineation. Established methods are, however, often time-consuming and expensive. Recent studies suggest that systematic image analysis can objectivise the delineation of stratigraphic layers based on [...] Read more.
Quantitative sediment analyses performed in the laboratory are often used throughout archaeological excavations to critically reflect on-site stratigraphic delineation. Established methods are, however, often time-consuming and expensive. Recent studies suggest that systematic image analysis can objectivise the delineation of stratigraphic layers based on fast quantitative spectral measurements. The presented study examines how these assumptions prevail when compared to modern techniques of sediment analysis. We examine an archaeological cross-section at a Bronze Age burial mound near Seddin (administrative district Prignitz, Brandenburg, Germany), consisting of several layers of construction-related material. Using detailed on-site descriptions supported by quantitatively measured sediment properties as a measure of quality, we compare clustering results of (i) extensive colour measurements conducted with an RGB and a multispectral camera during fieldwork, as well as (ii) selectively sampled sedimentological data and (iii) visible and near infrared (VIS-NIR) hyperspectral data, both acquired in the laboratory. Furthermore, the influence of colour transformation to the CIELAB colour space (Commission Internationale de l’Eclairage) and the possibilities of predicting soil organic carbon (SOC) based on image data are examined. Our results indicate that quantitative spectral measurements, while still experimental, can be used to delineate stratigraphic layers in a similar manner to traditional sedimentological data. The proposed processing steps further improved our results. Quantitative colour measurements should therefore be included in the current workflow of archaeological excavations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optical Technologies Applied to Cultural Heritage)
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Review

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Review
Virtual Restoration and Visualization Changes through Light: A Review
Heritage 2020, 3(4), 1373-1384; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/heritage3040076 - 17 Nov 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 927
Abstract
The virtual modification of the appearance of an object using lighting technologies has become very important in recent years, since the projection of light on an object allows us to alter its appearance in a virtual and reversible way. Considering the limitation of [...] Read more.
The virtual modification of the appearance of an object using lighting technologies has become very important in recent years, since the projection of light on an object allows us to alter its appearance in a virtual and reversible way. Considering the limitation of non-contact when analysing a work of art, these optical techniques have been used in fields of restoration of cultural heritage, allowing us to visualize the work as it was conceived by its author, after a process of acquisition and treatment of the image. Furthermore, the technique of altering the appearance of objects through the projection of light has been used in projects with artistic or even educational purposes. This review has treated the main studies of light projection as a technique to alter the appearance of objects, emphasizing the calibration methods used in each study, taking into account the importance of a correct calibration between devices to carry out this technology. In addition, since the described technique consists of projecting light, and one of the applications is related to cultural heritage, those studies that carry out the design and optimization of lighting systems will be described for a correct appreciation of the works of art, without altering its state of conservation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optical Technologies Applied to Cultural Heritage)
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Other

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Opinion
The Implication of Vision and Colour in Cultural Heritage
Heritage 2020, 3(4), 1063-1068; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/heritage3040058 - 25 Sep 2020
Viewed by 794
Abstract
Colour is important in art, particularly in pictures. The eyes receive images with a particular condition after traversing the cornea, other surfaces and interior liquid of orbit. It is possible for changes in colour to be perceived when pictures are viewed by one [...] Read more.
Colour is important in art, particularly in pictures. The eyes receive images with a particular condition after traversing the cornea, other surfaces and interior liquid of orbit. It is possible for changes in colour to be perceived when pictures are viewed by one eye that has defects in any surface. Cone defects are directly related to colour failure. Can the original colour be recovered by modifying the visual function? There are multiple colour tests, but there is no consensus on which colour test is best. After detecting a problem with colour, we found several techniques to enhance colour contrast for dichromats. Treatments considered were reversible and innocuous and combined with melanopsin-based blue light sensitivity for melatonin suppression, allowing visual acceptance and luminous perception. A light source of 4000 K with a Duv value of zero, a good observer and adequate illumination were necessary. Subjective assessment may be affected by visual functions such as accommodation, binocular vision and quality of the eye. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optical Technologies Applied to Cultural Heritage)
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