News from the Field

Spring 2015

  • A new paper on an X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis of medieval coins
  • A two-days course in multispectral imaging of works of art using flashes, SUPSI, Lugano, 16–17 April 2015
  • 2+3D Photography: Practice and Prophecies, First International Conference, Amsterdam, 15–16 April 2015. Review by Taylor Bennett
  • ConservationSpace 2.0
  • Publication of 3D ICONS Guidelines and Case Studies

 

A NEW PAPER ON AN X-RAY FLUORESCENCE (XRF) ANALYSIS OF MEDIEVAL COINS

A group of Polish researchers from Kraków, Julio M. del Hoyo-Meléndez, Paweł Świt, Marta Matosz, Mateusz Woźniak, Anna Klisińska-Kopacz and Łukasz Bratasz, have published a new paper on their examination of Polish medieval coins using X-ray fluorescence. This technique, they argue, can be effectively used to perform multi-elemental analyses of the surface composition of historic coins. Del Hoyo-Meléndez is a member of COSCH and is participating in the COSCH study of silver Roman coins.

Keywords: micro-XRF; silver coins; quantitative elemental composition; medieval Poland; numismatic collections

Abstract: X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis has become a standard method in archaeological science due to its non-invasive and non-destructive nature. This technique has extensively been used for the study of numismatic collections since the data derived from it can be correlated with manufacturing processes, provenance of raw materials, and geographical distribution of ancient mints. A group of 71 silver coins issued under the early rulers of the House of Piast, namely Bolesław the Brave (reg. 996–1025) and Mieszko II Lambert (reg. 1025–1034), now in the National Museum in Kraków, have been characterized using micro-XRF spectrometry. This is the largest collection of their coins representing nearly one third of all known coins from these rulers. The research has focused on evaluating the use of this technique as a screening tool for elemental surface characterisation of the alloys. Surveyed coins are mainly constituted by Ag, Cu and Pb along with trace levels of Fe, Ni, Zn, Au, Hg, Bi, and Br. Quantitative analyses have revealed Ag contents in the 81.6–97.5% range for all the evaluated coins. This study had the goal of providing information about the elemental composition of these objects, which will serve to enhance the existing knowledge about geographical and chronological diversification of Polish numismatic collections.

Full bibliographic reference: Hoyo-Meléndez, J.M. del, Świt, P., Matosz, M., Woźniak, M., Klisińska-Kopacz, A. and Bratasz, Ł., 2015. Micro-XRF analysis of silver coins from medieval Poland. In: Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms, Vol. 349, 15 April, pp. 6–16. ISSN 0168-583X; http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nimb.2015.02.018.

 

A TWO-DAY COURSE IN MULTISPECTRAL IMAGING OF WORKS OF ART USING FLASHES, SUPSI, LUGANO, 16–17 APRIL 2015

The Association of Swiss Conservators-restorers (SKR) held a two-day course on multispectral imaging at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (SUPSI) in Lugano. The course was given by Dr Giovanni Verri on 16–17 April 2015. Dr Verri is Researcher and Lecturer at the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, UK.

A new system for multispectral imaging (ultraviolet- and infrared-reflected and ultraviolet- and visible-induced luminescence imaging) performed using filtered flashes as illuminators was introduced. Among the benefits of this system, is the possibility to capture ultraviolet-induced luminescence images in the presence of ambient stray radiation with a hand-held setup. More information about the system can be found in the article titled ‘Xenon Flash for Reflectance and Luminescence (Multispectral) Imaging in Cultural Heritage Applications'. It appeared in the British Museum Technical Research Bulletin, vol. 8 (2014), pp. 83–92. The paper will be available on the British Museum website from October 2015. A copy has been made available by Verii at academia.edu

For more information feel free to contact Giovanni Verri <giovanni.verri (at) courtauld.ac.uk>

Images: Testing the xenon flashtubes in situ: (a) the sculptures of Sesostris III in the Egyptian sculpture gallery at the British Museum in London with the hand-held imaging setup comprising a modified Nikon D3200 digital camera and two Nikon SB-80DX flashtubes equipped with a Schott BG38 filter; (b) a detail of the belt made in the visible region; and (c) the visible-induced luminescence image of the same area of the belt as in (b), showing small surviving particles of Egyptian blue in the cartouche. © Giovanni Verri 

 

2+3D PHOTOGRAPHY: PRACTICE AND PROPHECIES, FIRST INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE, AMSTERDAM, 15–16 APRIL 2015

A review by Taylor Bennett

The first international conference on 2+3D Photography: Practice and Prophecies was held at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, on 15–16 April 2015.  The organisers succeeded in gathering experts and practitioners of state-of-the-art photographic techniques from the world's leading cultural heritage organisations, with over 265 delegates from 22 countries. This milestone event culminated in a consensus to adopt the Amsterdam Principles. The resulting document recognises the need for a standardised, scientific approach to 2D and 3D photography, and sets forth five principles intended to guide the advancement of digital photography of cultural heritage toward the future. The Amsterdam Principles and slides from the conference presentations have now been made available through the cooperation of the Association for Historical and Fine Art Photography (AHFAP) and the Rijksmuseum.

Many of the conference presentations emphasised how photography has always been intimately connected to the development of technologies that make it possible to record images. The Amsterdam Principles and several speakers at the conference stressed the need for camera manufacturers to work more closely with cultural heritage photographers to incorporate appropriate colour profiles and to tailor the development of new technologies to the needs of cultural heritage professionals and organisations.

In addition to the goal of adopting a set of principles to guide present and future photographers of cultural heritage, the conference presented a sweep of recent developments in photographic digitisation practices, from colorimetry, photogrammetry, and automated mass digitisation, to the crowd-sourcing of metadata for entire collections of many thousands of objects. 

The importance and need for standards is becoming clearer as we move into an age of mass digitisation of collections of millions of objects at large institutions, the costs of which can run to the tens of millions of euros for individual projects. The challenges of developing appropriate colorimetric standards and methods, and targets to achieve them were the topics of Roy Berns, Tim Zaman and Scott Geffert. As Tim Zaman pointed out, the addition of 3D imaging adds an exponentially increasing level of complexity to the challenges of digital imaging. Even with our best efforts, he asked, will it be necessary to re-digitise our collections every decade? There are many such questions to be answered and problems to be solved while such projects are in progress. Monumental organisational skills and computational capabilities are being brought to bear on the management of these projects.

Another area of rapid development can be found in the application of computational methods to the selection and comparison of huge collections of images. Digital photography has made possible the capture of 3D, microscopic texture, and multispectral and hyperspectral images, as well as qualities that are more difficult to standardise and quantify, such as specularity and translucency. It is possible that the memory required to store all the images of a single object can reach hundreds of gigabytes. The realisation of the full potential of these methods relies on the proper recording and entry of metadata, a theme that recurred throughout the conference. The presentations by Sarah Saunders on embedded metadata standards, Marianne Peereboom on Digital Asset Management, Stephanie Schnörr on mass digitisation, and Robert Erdmann on computer visualisation methods clearly demonstrated the problems to be overcome and the amazing possibilities that can be achieved.

The historical images and timelines in the presentations carried more significance than merely showing how rapidly these technologies have advanced, both before and after the advent of digital methods; they also served to focus attention on questions regarding the roles of photographers, the values of images they record, and the purposes which they serve, some of which cannot have been foreseen when the images were originally captured and preserved. We now have the ability to capture, reproduce and disseminate digital images that are simultaneously scientific records and works of aesthetic beauty, making them immediately accessible to a growing audience through digital media. This means that photographers of cultural heritage have a responsibility to adopt standardised practices that preserve more than just images, but also accurately record the conditions of their capture.  As events have unfolded, photographs can provide the best and sometimes the only record of cultural heritage objects that would otherwise be lost to posterity due to war, vandalism, or natural disaster, as the presentation by Alonzo Addison about UNESCO World Heritage Sites so clearly and dramatically demonstrated.

The conference also included a number of interesting workshops held in satellite locations, focusing on specific methods for photographing challenging subjects, such as silver objects and costumes, or new techniques, such as microscopic Reflectance Transformation Imaging. 

19 May 2015

For more information see the event website. Taylor Bennett may be contacted at <taylor.bennett (at) alum.mit.edu>

 

CONSERVATIONSPACE 2.0

Conservator dashboard in Conservation Space Release 1.0. Screenshot courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

ConservationSpace is a digital documentation tool being developed specifically for the needs of conservators that marries the flexibility and formatting of word processor documents with the structure and organisation of a database. It will offer such features as embedded images in reports, image annotation, and management of reports, images, and all manner of associated documents in one location. For those with complex project management needs, it also offers task and workflow management tools.

The system will be highly configurable and designed to interface with collection management systems. ConservationSpace is designed by conservators, for conservators.

The development of ConservationSpace Release 1.0 was completed in July 2014 and represents a major step toward developing a software application for creating and managing conservation documentation as well as supporting conservation business processes. Release 1.0 yielded a functional beta system that the project partners used in a test environment. Conservators at each participating institution were able to create projects and reports; add and annotate images; send email notifications and requests; and relate reports and data to cultural objects all within a single software application. The creation of the report document by a conservator/user is facilitated by a word processor like interface to the database called an iDoc.

On 10th December 2015 the project team, led by the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., held a workshop to kick off the development of Release 2.0 of ConservationSpace. The overarching goal of this next phase, which runs through July 2016, is to produce a fully functional second release that would be ready for integration with Collection Management Systems (CMS) and Digital Asset Management (DAM) Systems. The specific goals of the Release 2.0 work are to:

  • Build mechanisms to import data from existing collection and  digital asset management systems while maintaining the ability for manual data input for conservators without such systems;
  • Improve the user experience by enhancing the interface and interaction design as well as the ability to customise some aspects of the individual user's interface;
  • Make it possible to print and export iDoc-based system reports;
  • Support the use of locally preferred terminology by institutions and conservators in private practice;
  • Refine and expand the search/retrieval capabilities;
  • Expand the image annotation features and adopt image annotation standards in conformance with established protocols such as the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF);
  • Create two versions of ConservationSpace; one that would be hosted remotely and serve multiple customers in different institutions or conservation practices with a private version of the software, and a second version that could be installed on an institutional or hosted server to be used by a single customer with multiple users;
  • Allow for role-based (conservator, curator, registrar, etc.) customisable permission controls, specific to each institution's or private conservator's needs;
  • Facilitate both enterprise-level and user-level customisation of system templates and code lists;
  • Generate reports on system status and activity;
  • Offer workflow management capabilities to support the unique business processes of each institution or conservation practice;
  • Provide version management and rollback capabilities for key system objects.

The ConservationSpace project is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and managed by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Conservators and scientists from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the National Gallery of Art in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Yale University, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the

Denver Art Museum, the Statens Museum for Kunst in Denmark, and the Courtauld Institute in London have been closely involved with the development of the software.

For more information visit the project websites, <http://www.conservationspace.org> and <https://sites.google.com/site/conservationspace> or contact Christine McCarthy <christine.mccarthy<-a t->yale<.>edu>, Chief Conservator, Conservation and Exhibition Services in the Preservation Department, Yale University Library

 

PUBLICATION OF 3D ICONS GUIDELINES AND CASE STUDIES

The 3D-ICONS project was co-funded under the European Commission's ICT Policy Support Programme which builds on the results of CARARE and 3D-COFORM. The goal of 3D-ICONS was to provide Europeana with 3D models of architectural and archaeological artefacts and monuments of remarkable cultural importance. This three year project (2012–2015), co-ordinated by the Università degli Studi di Napoli L'Orientale, brought together 16 partners from across Europe (11 countries) with relevant expertise in 3D modelling and digitisation. The main aim of the project was to produce around 4,000 accurate 3D models which would subsequently be made available online through a range of software solutions (3DHOP, WebGL, 3D PDF). The project, which ended in January 2015, recently published online a guidelines and case studies document to help users to assess and evaluate the wide range of technologies and techniques that are available in 3D data capture and modelling.

The guidelines outline the capture to delivery pipeline which covers all the technical and logistic aspects required to create 3D models of cultural heritage objects. Five interlinked stages of the pipeline are identified and discussed in detail; 3D data capture techniques, post-processing of 3D content, 3D publishing methodology, metadata, as well as licensing and IPR considerations.

The case studies are a representative selection from over 4,000 3D models of cultural heritage objects produced by the project partners during the course of the 3D-ICONS project. Each project partner has provided two case studies which are grouped within two broad ranges of cultural heritage object — monuments and buildings, and artefacts and architectural detail.

The document, 3D-ICONS Guidelines and Case Studies, is available as a free download from the 3D-ICONS website.

For more information feel free to contact Robert Shaw, <Robert (at) discoveryprogramme.ie>

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Information Information

COSCH final book

General

FORTHCOMING: COSCH final book 

Digital Techniques for Documenting and Preserving Cultural Heritage

"The essays in this collection are transformative, moving beyond basic collaboration and skilfully contextualizing both scientic knowledge in the humanities and humanities knowledge in the sciences. Doing so not only heightens the quality of the research, but heightens understanding, redrawing traditional lines between disciplines and redening what it means to truly collaborate and to be a scholar in the digital age."-Bill Endres, University of Oklahoma 
In this unique collection the authors present a wide range of interdisciplinary methods to study, document, and conserve material cultural heritage. The methods used serve as exemplars of best practice with a wide variety of cultural heritage objects having been recorded, examined, and visualised. The objects range in date, scale, materials, and state of preservation and so pose dierent research questions and challenges for digitization, conservation, and ontological representation of knowledge. Heritage science and specialist digital technologies are presented in a way approachable by non-scientists, while a separate technical section provides details of methods and techniques, alongside examples of notable applications of spatial and spectral documentation of material cultural heritage, with selected literature and identication of future research. 
This book is an outcome of interdisciplinary research and debates conducted by the participants of the COST Action TD1201, Colour and Space in Cultural Heritage, 2012–16, and is an Open Access publication available under a CC BY-NC-ND licence.