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Archaeometry: A chemist's view on cultural heritage
Start: 18/10/2019, 10:00
End: 18/10/2019, 11:00
Contact: -
Location: De Beers Building, Lecture hall 2003

Prof. Dr. Peter Vandenabeele from Ghent University will give a talk on Archaeometry: A chemist's view on Cultural Heritage.


Archaeometry is the research field that bridges natural science​​s with humanities. Analytical approaches are used to examine artworks, for assisting conservation projects or for detecting frauds. It is of the utmost importance to minimise the damage, while maximising the information that is achieved. Therefore, novel analytical approaches are developed. In our research we mainly use Raman spectroscopy for this purpose: it is a molecular spectroscopic technique that – provided the laser power is kept sufficiently low – allows us to investigate artworks in a non-destructive way. Moreover, mobile instruments are developed and have proven to be very successful for the non-destructive study of the artworks. Battery packs allow us to bring the instrumentation on the field, to perform in situ examinations of, for instance antique Roman mosaics. By implementing this technology in our research, it is possible to study a broad range of works, ranging from mediaeval manuscripts to 20th century easel paintings, or from Patagonian rock art to 19th century publicity cards. In this presentation we aim to show the recent evolutions in the technology, and we will illustrate this with a broad range of applications from our daily practice.

Short biography

Peter Vandenabeele obtained his PhD in analytical chemistry in 2000, at Ghent University (Belgium), with research on the application of Raman spectroscopy and total-reflection X-ray fluorescence for the analysis of art objects. In 2007, he was appointed as professor in archaeometry at the faculty of Arts and Philosophy of the same university, where he became member of the department of Archaeology and associated member of the department of Chemistry (faculty of Sciences). His research mainly focusses on the development and optimisation of spectroscopic techniques for archaeometrical applications, with a focus on Raman spectroscopy. This includes the analysis of painted art objects as well as the development and use of mobile Raman instrumentation. He organised successful editions of international scientific conferences and authored many research papers and was guest-editor of several special issues of scientific journals. He also authored a handbook on Raman spectroscopy: Practical Raman Spectroscopy: an Introduction (J. Wiley, 2013), as well as several co-edited volumes. He teaches Natural Sciences and Archaeometry to archaeologists as well as chemists at Ghent University.