UV-Vis-NIR Spectroscopy in Art and Archeology

Full-range UV-VIS-NIR spectroscopy (350nm–2500nm) is growing in popularity in applications for museums as well as field archeology sites. Commonly known as fiberoptic reflectance spectroscopy (FORS) in art and archeology, this method deploys our spectrometers and spectroradiometers, often using our art probe accessory for an incredibly fine field of view. With our art precision probe, scientists can achieve a measurement spot size as small as 1mm. This allows for reflectance measurements to be taken on even the smallest brush strokes and yields useful information like the paint composition and materials. “The use of diffuse reflectance spectroscopy from the near ultraviolet (UV) through the visible and into the near-infrared (NIR) spectral range is becoming a routine technique for the in-situ characterization of artists’ materials” (Gabrieli et al., 2019). Our instruments are ideal for use in a museum lab as well as in the field.

Our instruments are also used for soil characterization, making it easier for archeologists to identify the strata around their dig site. This can help characterize the soil beds and correlate where they may find more artifacts. Reflectance spectroscopy can also be used at archeological sites to determine where building materials originated. For example, it would assist in identifying the origin quarry of bricks in a pyramid or temple. This expands the capabilities of field archeology and nondestructive sampling. In addition, it includes NIST-traceable irradiance calibration, 1.2 meter dual fiber optic with a custom diffuser and built-in phototrigger, 100-240 volt/50-60Hz power supply, and a dust-proof and waterproof foam-line Pelican case for shipping. The SR-1901PT is portable so you can use it wherever you need to test your solar simulator.

They can also help identify what materials certain artifacts are made of. For many restoration departments, museum research departments, art galleries, and universities, reflectance spectroscopy provides the best method for analyzing valuable artwork and historical artifacts. These include paintings, manuscripts, glass objects, archeological finds, and so on. This technique is invaluable due to its non-destructive Nature. In addition, artwork can be analyzed for authenticity, determining whether the artwork is real or a forgery based on the pigments and other materials the artist used.

In paintings, analyzing pigments can provide critical insight into the artwork. Paints have three basic components: pigment for color, a binder that sticks the paint to the substrate when it dries, and a vehicle to make the paint fluid during the act of painting. In typical analyses of paintings and other artwork, samples are required. Even microsamples, while done carefully, are still essentially destructive to the artwork. The development of non-invasive techniques, such as reflectance spectroscopy, is essential to analyzing and preserving artwork.

Using a Spectral Evolution NaturaSpec™ & NaturaSpec™ Ultra spectroradiometer with a handheld computer tablet or laptop computer, a bi-furcated dark field reflectance fiber optic, and a light source, a researcher can perform non-invasive analysis on nearly any artifact. One challenge faced with delicate and small samples is the reduction of signal due to a small sample area. Our full-range instruments have the highest sensitivity on the market, so they stand up the best to this challenge. They also have high spectral resolution, allowing for more accurate differentiation of materials. Our spectroradiometers are the ideal instrument for researching arts and archeology because they collect fast, accurate, and robust analysis.

Typical applications include:
• Aging and environmental studies of paper substrates in historical documents
• Analytical characterization and dating of parchment.
• Analysis of disc stability and sound recordings
• Polymer degradation studies in POP art and modern art
• Analysis of degradation in daguerreotypes and photographs
• Analysis of storage conditions including VOC emissions, climate control
• Analysis of water and fire damage
• Color measurement and the effect of exhibit lighting on color in artifacts.
• Ink analysis of documents
• Dating and authentication studies including accurate artifact sourcing
using spectral measurement of clays and soils
• Conservation materials and methods, including cleaning methods.
• Archeological site investigation and preservation
• Analysis of materials to determine origination.