Museum curators, art historians, and archeologists analysis to alert
Art, artifact and antique analysis can be done using non-destructive, fast and simple XRF methods to identify what items are made of.
Art historians, archeologists and conservators are constantly concerned with the questions of where, when and by whom an object was made. Investigations of physical properties and especially chemical composition of artifacts are helpful and increasingly applied to allocate an object to a particular historic or prehistoric context, to determine the correctness of the presumed origin or to explore the technology used for the manufacturing.
Careful material analysis combined with historical knowledge
Are used to predict the geographic origin of an object or at least the origin of the materials of which it was made. The legacy of the material can be determined allowing the archeologists to identify trade routes. Since many works of art and artifacts can be quite large and must be kept intact, "open architecture" XRF analyzers have been specially designed for "open beam" XRF analysis directly on the art object.
Museum curators, art historians, and archeologists must be constantly alert to forgeries. EDXRF is a great tool for them since it can identify the specific elemental composition of rare and valuable items without damaging them. Using EDXRF allows to measure a wide range of elementals and concentrations without any time consuming or elaborate sample preparation. Samples can be measured in different forms; loose powders, pressed into pellets or solids and are ready for measurement within seconds.
Xenemetrix Energy Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence (EDXRF) spectrometers are the simplest, most accurate, non-destructive and economical analytical systems. They provide high accuracy and precision with excellent detection limits (0.1 – 1 mg/kg). Small and compact EDXRF benchtop analyzers can be taken to the field and provide on-line analysis for instant research support without having to wait weeks for tedious laboratory analysis of samples.
Here are a few common art applications:
- Paintings: EDXRF analysis of the pigments of a painting can provide answers to where, when and by whom the pigments were made as different pigments were used during different periods in history in different locations by different artists. These materials can vary by location, date and artist. This process can help make known any forgeries or copies when compared with information known about artists.
- Metals- The study of developments in metals and metalworking, particularly metal jewelry, has long been important to archeology. XRF is an ideal instrument for metals analysis, since almost every element can be identified, and fundamental parameter methods can be used to quantify the elemental composition. Metal alloys and metal work techniques change over time so forgeries and reproductions can often be identified by a detailed elemental composition analysis.
- Pottery and Ceramics- Ceramics contain elements that are usually indicative of a region, while glazes often contain metal dies that can be measured by EDXRF.
- Precious Stones- The origin of precious stones can often be identified by their elemental composition. Rubies for example contain traces of vanadium that differ by a hundred PPM or more depending on their source.
- Stone- It is usually possible to identify the quarry or region that stone comes from. Stone used in buildings or larger artwork like sculptures can be readily categorized by XRF. Artifacts made from stone, like flint points, axe heads, and shards can be identified by EDXRF. This information is useful for identifying trade routes.
- Wood and Plant Derived Material- Wood and other plant material also contains a variety of elements such as sulfur, potassium and calcium that can be used for identification purposes. Items such as canvas, wicker, and fabric can also be analyzed by EDXRF and at least partially fingerprinted.