PHYSICAL TECHNIQUES FOR ARCHAEOMETRY
Learning outcomes of the course unit
The course aims to provide basic knowledge for understanding the most important physical techniques used in Archaeometry applied to significant case studies taken from the current literature.
Therefore it aims to:
- give the basic physics knowledge to understand the principal physical
techniques used for the investigation on the cultural heritage artifacts, applied to many case studies;
- transfer knowledge and understanding of the physical techniques of archaeometry
enabling the application of new ideas in a interdisciplinary research context and
solve complex problems, with a capacity for reflection on the implications of the findings and decisions;
- provide the tools and methodologies to acquire communication skills, even toward non-specialists
in Archaeometry and to deal with autonomy in a in-depth study of the techniques.
Basic Physics and Mathematics and preliminary optics and spectroscopy concepts
Course contents summary
The course begins with an introductory section that is intended to draw the essential concepts of the structure of matter (atoms, molecules, nuclei, particles) and then give an overview of the possible interactions between radiation and matter, or between particles (ions) and matter, which are at the base of the fundamental physical techniques for Archaeometry.
In particular, one illustrates the electronic, vibrational and rotational structure of the molecules and describes the properties of atomic nuclei and nuclear phenomena (also radioactive). This part requires a lot of exercises.
The second section then reviews the techniques of atomic spectroscopy, vibrational spectroscopies, X-RAY (X-ray fluorescence, X-ray diffraction) for information on the atomic and molecular nature of the material of interest for Archaeometry. Particular attention is given to techniques of ion beam analysis (IBA) as PIXE (Particle Induced X-ray Emission), PIGE (Particle Induced Gamma-ray Emission), RBS (Rutherford Backscattering), SIMS (Secondary Ions Mass Spectrometry). In addition, neutron techniques NAA (Neutron Activation Analysis), NRA (Neutron Reaction Analysis) and also Neutron diffraction are treated.
Other issues include optical spectroscopies, LIBS (Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy), Photoelectronic Spectroscopy (XPS - AUGER), ESR (Electron Spin Resonance), NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance).
Finally dating techniques as Thermoluminescence and C14 method are explained.
The techniques abovementioned are always accompanied by examples / exercises related to case studies on CERAMICS - GLASS - METAL - STONE - WOODEN MATERIALS - FABRICS – PAINTINGS - FRESCOES etc.
Several numerical exercises will help to clarify the characteristics and limitations of the various techniques of investigation.
Optical spectroscopies - Luminescence (TL - OSL etc.).
Vibrational Spectroscopy - FTIR - RAMAN
ABSORPTION OF X-RAYS - EXAFS - XANES
PIXE (Particle Induced X-ray Emission)
LIBS (Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy)
IBA - NAA - NRA - RBS - PIXE - PIGE
Photoelectronic Spectroscopy - XPS - AUGER
ESR (Electron Spin Resonance)
NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance)
Hints on DATING TECHNIQUES - Thermoluminescence - C14 dating
Case studies, as:
CERAMIC - GLASS - METAL - STONE - WOODEN MATERIAL - TEXTILES - PAINTINGS - FRESCOES - MOSAICS
Notes and other material provided by the teacher or easily found on the WEB.
Some reference texts:
H. R. Verma: Atomic and Nuclear Analytical Methods: XRF, Mössbauer, XPS, NAA and Ion-Beam Spectroscopic Technique, Springer
B.H. Stuart: Analytical Techniques in Materials Conservation, Wiley
G.Artioli: Scientific Methods and Cultural Heritage: An introduction to the application of material science to archaeometry and conservation science, Oxford University Press
P. Craddock: Scientific investigation of copies, fakes and forgeries, Elsevier BH
The lesson is oral, with suggested multimedia support. The topics on the structure of matter are accompanied by numerous exercises to gain knowledge on measurement units, on the nomenclature of electronic and atomic levels, on spectroscopic terms and various processes of nuclear decay.
The topics on the physical techniques are always accompanied by applications to case studies taken from the current scientific literature and the students are actively involved in the discussion on the possibilities of the techniques and data analysis.
Particular attention is paid to the critical reading of the data and to the comparison between the various techniques and their applicability in different applications.
Assessment methods and criteria
The degree of learning is continually assessed during the course with the involvement of the students in exercises and questions.
At the end of the course there is an interview on the physical techniques studied, to assess the potential of understanding of the various techniques and of the relevant physical principles.
Part of the test consists in the interpretation of experimental data from graphs or a discussion on case studies, taken from papers in current literature, and in the description of the peculiarities of the instrumentation used. One also intends to verify the ability to compare different techniques, linking the various information obtained.
An important part of the test is made by a presentation (with slides) of an Archaeometry case study, taken from current scientific literature, with the application of one or more of the physical techniques investigated.
An important criterion in the overall assessment is the use of correct terms in the description of the issues and of the case studies.
The course is preceded by a few introductory lessons of Structure of Matter - An integral part of the course is assisted literature search of case studies