Project facts

Duration: 2022-06-30 - 2024-06-28
Project coordinator: National Institute for Research and Development in Optoelectronics – INOE 2000
Funding bodies: The Executive Unit for Financing Higher Education, Research, Development and Innovation (UEFISCDI)
Subject areas: Archaeology, Conservation, Data, Innovation, Materials, Natural Science, Technologies - Scientific processes
Budget: 120,000 EUR


The main aim of the artMAP project is to develop a new analytical methodology for in-situ identification and real-time mapping of organic binders used in ancient wall paintings. The proposed method combines two complementary highly specific molecular techniques, namely laser-induced fluorescence (LIF) and Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. The existing LIF scanning system within the INOE 2000 laboratory will be upgraded with a new laser source and a new software interface will be developed along with a spectral database of organic compounds. The capability to accurately identify and map organic binders in ancient wall paintings, typically characterized by a highly inorganic matrix and low binder-to-pigment ratio, will be tested on selected 2nd-century Roman wall painting fragments. A two-step optimization method will be used (two levels of identification): (1) LIF measurements will be carried out as a first step for remote non-invasive real-time diagnosis and mapping of the organic components that may be present within the investigated samples; this will offer a first level of identification, meaning the presence or absence of an organic binder, and at the same will indicate (based on the imaging results) the best points on the painted surface at which to take micro-samples; (2) results of the LIF analysis will be refined and validated by FTIR measurements carried out on selected micro-samples that will be subject to a pretreatment (selective extraction method of the organic binder using solvents); this will offer a second level of identification, meaning identification of specific classes of organic binding media. This combined procedure will give a synergic effect as the chemical identification of the organic materials provided by FTIR spectroscopy can be transferred to the whole painted surface thanks to the imaging capabilities of the LIF system, without the need for extensive micro-sampling.

Impacts & Results

System development: Development of a custom in-house laser-induced fluorescence (LIF) scanning system for high-end applications within the heritage science field.

Spectra data collection: A specialized LIF spectral library has been developed. The library comprises at this moment over 50 reference samples that cover a wide range of organic binders and mineral pigments commonly found in ancient murals. Following the FAIR guiding principles, all reference LIF spectra acquired by the end of the project will be incorporated into the INFRA-ART Spectral Library, an open-access data infrastructure for heritage science

Analytical methodology: Development of an enhanced FTIR method using micro-extraction protocol.

Review paper: L. Ghervase, I.M Cortea (2023) Lighting up the heritage sciences: the past and future of laser-induced fluorescence spectroscopy in the field of cultural goods, in Chemosensors 11(2), 100.