Analytical methods for the study cultural goods

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course aims to the presentation of the most important methods of chemical and chemical-physical analysis useful to characterize archaeological materials, from the point of view of the identification of the material themselves and of their degradation products, of the manufacturing technologies and of the provenance of the raw materials.
Expected learning outcomes
Students will acquire the basic principles for the application of the most common analytical methods to problems of specific archaeological interest. They will also be able to develop a strategy for the solution of an analytical problem related to archaeological materials, by addressing the proper laboratories and having the capability to interpret the information deriving from analytical data.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Course syllabus
The program of the course is the same for attending and non-attending students.
It includes the following subjects:
(1) principles of the application of analytical chemistry techniques to cultural heritage;
(2) introduction to spectroscopic techniques;
(3) elemental analysis techniques: optical atomic spectroscopic; atomic mass spectrometry; summary of X-ray emission techniques;
(4) statistical treatment of analytical data: brief outline of multivariate methods of data analysis (principal components analysis, cluster analysis);
(5) applications of elemental analysis techniques (ICP-AES, ICP-MS, LA-ICP-MS) to archaeological finds: the study of the provenance of materials;
(6) molecular analysis techniques: IR and Raman vibrational spectroscopies, UV-visible absorption and fluorescence spectroscopies, mass spectrometry;
(7) application of visible reflectance and fluorescence spectroscopy and of micro-FTIR and micro-Raman spectroscopy to the identification of pigments;
(8) methods for the identification of mineralogical phases (XRD, FTIR) applied to the study of mortars and of the firing technology of archaeological pottery;
(9) scanning electron microscopy (SEM) combined with EDX analysis applied to the study of the surface decoration of ceramic artefacts;
(10) principle of instrumental analytical methods based on chromatographic separations: GC e HPLC.
(11) molecular analysis techniques (FTIR, MS, GC-MS) for the identification of archaeological organic materials.
Prerequisites for admission
The knowledge of the fundamentals of chemistry and physics (especially optics) that are included in the teaching programs of high school can be useful.
Teaching methods
The teaching is based on frontal lessons.
The web page of the course is
Teaching Resources
The reference material is constituted by the slides of the lessons, made available on the web page of the course.

As an integration (but not in substitution) to the slides, the following textbook can be employed:
L. Paolillo, I. Giudicianni, "La Diagnostica nei Beni Culturali. Moderni Metodi di Indagine", Loghia, Napoli, 2009
The following chapters should be considered specifically:
Chapter 1 - UV/Visibile spectrophotometry
Chapter 2 - Infrared spectroscopy
Chapter 3 - Confocal Raman microscopy
Chapter 6 - EDS spectroscopy
Chapter 7 - Mass spectrometry (only sections 7.1, 7.2.1, 7.2.2, 7.3.2, 7.5, 7.6)
Capitolo 8 - Atomic absorption spectrometry (AAS) and inductively coupled plasma (ICP) spectrometry
Capitolo 10 - X-ray diffraction
Capitolo 11 - Portable instrumentation for the analysis of cultural heritage (only section 11.2)
Capitolo 13 - Scanning electron microscopy (only sections 13.3.1, 13.3.2, 13.3.3)
Capitolo 18 - Chromatography (sections 18.1, 18.2, 18.3, 18.5, 18.6)
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam consists in a written test based on 5 questions, with open-ended but concise answers, about analytical problems related to the diagnostics of archaeological cultural heritage. The exam lasts 50 minutes. The result will be determined by the capability of the student to individuate the proper methods for the solution of the proposed problems, also indicating which information each method can supply.
The results, expressed in a scale from 1 to 30, are communicated by the electronic service Vweb.
Unita' didattica
FIS/07 - APPLIED PHYSICS - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Unita' didattica
FIS/07 - APPLIED PHYSICS - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours