Quarterly Magazine, Volume X
ISSUE 4 SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT
Cultural Heritage Technologies
i n t e r n a t i o n a l
IRR and XRF
Archaeological data with Open Source
Save the Syrian Heritage
Analytical memory of cultural heritage for the future
In this issue, each study is aimed at illustrating the technological capacity of the last decades to
accumulate the analytical memory of cultural heritage and control its transmission to the future. The
purpose of advanced applications is mainly aimed at the binomial storage and retrieval of data in this
dual perspective of approach, which always consists in the assumption of the completeness of the
documentation of the open work and above all of its availability for the intervention of the historical
discipline. With the possibility of adding the results of new research and interpretations shown by
newly invented tools, the quantity of data management is increasingly corroborated by a massive and
widespread presence of new readers, connoisseurs and interpreters who access the elements of knowledge
demonstrated on the many comparative plans that exploit the sudden evolution of images in the data
storage processes. In a certain sense it is a revolution in the history of art that aims at new precision
features and in which the recognition of artistic attributes is present according to an increasingly objective
method of identifying the type of virtual medium and of image applied and with which it is development of
a chemical formula can become the definition of a color, a tone and a brilliance used in a given historical
period, the summation of data collected by a GIS software, the stratigraphy of a bounded archaeological
site still underground and only partially excavated, an augmented photograph or digital image as eloquent
semiologically modified critical interpretation according to its own measurement system.
The expansion of the bibliographic patrimony that can be consulted simultaneously has opened hundreds of
libraries all over the world attention to consultation studies.
The basic criterion underlying all the accuracy that each article claims to make use of, in proposing the
scientific and disciplinary complex of the cultural history investigated, is the non-invasiveness of the
instrumentation used, which does not go beyond the threshold of the material even when it intervenes in
its integrity. It is a fundamental reason for the conservation of the cultural heritage through the virtual,
or rather the set of reproductions of works of art, which more than any other interacted with its remote
use, included the introduction of the film shot in the installed artistic documentation, to acclaim several
parameters of relative invariance of his status by the chosen support.
The dynamics of the material interpolation of the object also in the robotics of the perceptive support of
the cultural asset has in common with the restoration disciplines the purpose of bringing it closer to the
user in its consistency.
Direct contact with the work of art does not fail, on the contrary it is its presupposition and any alteration
of its perception, such as the rediscovery of an invisible substrate in the surface of a painting, has
the advantage of remaining virtually and materially relevant to reproduction which resulted from its
recognizability of image and its scale of measurement or quantitative index of definition of the treatment
The human memory of the work of art is magnified, its playful, competitive and creative potential and
above all, in its immensity, the occasionally infinite incidence of a non-schematic, commensurable and
debatable fruition. The awareness that the creative talent of a work of art rests in part in the ability
to receive it and to feel it is inherent in scientific thought also entrusted to the robotics, but so is the
tendency to elude it, to estrange it and divert it to fruition, to make it a screen and a media diaphragm
both to the visible and the invisible and to the error of observation or to the unimaginable intuitiveness
that comes from physical and accessible contact.
But it can also guide us towards the presumed unnoticed or undetectable.
Archeomatica Editorial Board
6 QGIS, pyarchinit and blender:
Surveying and Management
of Archaeological data with
Open Source Solutions
by Roberto Montagnetti, Luca Mandolesi
On the cover the InfraRed Reflectography
image of the painting Annunciata, by Antonello
26 Hazards, heritage protection and disasters resilience
Competence, Liability and Culpability. Who's the blame?
by Claudio Cimino
3D Target 2
Cultour Active 25
Salone del Restauro 48
40 Virtual Archaeological
generated in Avaya live
by A. Joe Rigby, Mark Melaney
and Ken Rigby
CULTURAL HERITAGE Technologies
Quarterly Magazine, Volume X
Issue Special Supplement 2019
Archeomatica, quarterly published since 2009, is the first Italian
magazine for dissemination, promotion and exchange of
knowledge on technologies for the preservation, enhancement
and enjoyment of cultural heritage. Publishing about technologies
for survey and documentation, analysis and diagnosis,
restoration and maintenance, museums and archaeological
parks, social networking and "smart" peripherals. As a reference
point in the field is the sharing media for the industry, the
professionals, the institutions, the academia, including research
institutions and government agencies.
Maurizio Forte, Bernard Frischer
Giovanni Ettore Gigante, Sandro Massa,
Maura Medri, Mario Micheli,
Francesco Prosperetti, Marco Ramazzotti,
Antonino Saggio, Francesca Salvemini
20 IRR and XRF
Annunciata by Antonello
da Messina to trace the
original appearance of
The Blue Veil
by Maria Francesca Alberghina,
Fernanda Prestileo, Salvatore
44 COMPANIES AND
News from the world of
Technologies for Cultural
30 The Crucifix Chapel of
Aci Sant’Antonio: Newly
by Antonino Cosentino, Samantha
Stout, Raffaello di Mauro,
37 Save the Syrian
to document Palmyra
and endangered world
heritage - Interview to
Yves Ubelmann, Iconem's CEO
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QGIS, pyarchinit and blender: Surveying
and Management ofArchaeological data
Fig. 1 - PyArchinit Logo.
Image by Mandolesi 2006.
with Open Source Solutions
by Roberto Montagnetti,
The goal of this article is to provide
several practical procedures for
working within the GIS environment in
the archaeological sector, with specific
reference to the excavation site,
through open source methodologies and
software such as Qgis and PyArchinit.
It will also demonstrate how to use
the data derived from the survey,
processed and managed through Qgis
and PyArchinit for enhancement
projects such as 3d modeling and 3d
mapping through Blender software.
Fig. 2 - The pattern in the upper part illustrates how PyArchinit is structured. In fact, the plugin uses a
Geodatabase (Postgresql or Spatialite) to store all the data collected during an archaeological project.
These data can be alphanumeric (tables) and vectorial (Digital Survey) which, into PyArchinit, are merged
with each other through the "views" system. This system allows you to automatically interconnect
many and different types of data with each other. PyArchinit provides comfortable graphical interfaces
already prepared for both alphanumeric and vectorial data. Image by Mandolesi 2006
The term georeferencing means to place one or more
objects on a topographic map (paper or digital),
which are represented as geometries (point, line,
polygon, polyline etc.). It attributes a precise geographical
position to an object by assigning X, Y or X, Y, Z coordinates
according to a geographic reference system that
can be chosen conforming to the needs of the user 1 .
However, today, thanks to the huge developments in numerical
cartography, it makes no sense to continue georeferencing
objects on paper given the great advantages of
digital cartography, in particular the vectorial one, compared
to the paper one; the many benefits include:
1. Digital maps in comparison to paper, are not affected
by weather, wear, or deformation;
2. Digital maps are easier to manage, to compare, to share,
and do not take up space;
3. The vectorization of the elements that make up a digital
map and also of any georeferenced object allows the
user to associate any alphanumeric information to them
that can be queried.
At the same time, it facilitates comparison and interaction
with data of different natures and origins, as well as
the possibility of processing spatial analyzes.
All this presupposes the use of the GIS software. As only
GIS software has the following characteristics:
1. They allow for the geographical positioning and the
geometric representation of the entities that make up the
project that is being worked on;
2. They are structured in order to be able to manage and
maintain all the information concerning the mutual spatial
relationships between the different elements, such as
connection, adjacency and overlap, defining the topology
of the elements of the platform;
3. They make it possible to assign attributes to individual
data, guaranteeing management through mutual relations,
quite similar to that allowed by normal databases.
6 ArcheomaticA International Special Issue
Cultural heritage Technologies 7
In this way it is possible to query every element in the
system, which will return the alphanumeric information
associated with it (Peuquet 1988).
Based on the attributes of the vectors that make up the
platform, it is also possible to carry out geoprocessing
analyzes that will further implement the knowledge about
the specific “territorial system” being investigated 2 .
Georeferencing and vectorization of cultural heritage in a
GIS environment is of fundamental importance, whether
they are used for an entire archaeological site, a single
monument, or simple stratigraphic units. In addition to
the benefits already listed, in this way it is possible to
link the all information collected for each cultural asset
to satisfy multiple requests:
1.Specific research aims;
2.Preservation, enhancement, and touristic enjoyment
Fig. 3 - Example of Excavation Plan Template worked out with PyArchinit.
Image by Mandolesi 2019.
For this second point it is useful to remember that GIS
is the software used by the different public and private
authorities. It is important to make sure that all those
who work around the cultural heritage sector can produce
types of data suitable to be managed through GIS
Conformity with territorial planning standards, would
make interdisciplinary exchange easier and, at the same
time, save time for processing projects.
This aspect is even more pronounced when it comes specifically
to archaeological excavation projects.
Archaeological projects usually involve a massive production
of topographical and alphanumeric data (e.g. survey,
paperwork, namely the all the various documentation
sheets that are used during an archaeological evaluation)
It would be unthinkable in the future to carry on to provide
such data in paper formats, for both huge benefits
of the digital vectorial documentations compared to the
traditional paper format.
At some point, it will become harder to continue to store
them within the warehouses of the governmental bodies
charged with the preservation and enhancement of cultural
heritage, since it is likely that they will not have
the necessary space 4 . For example in Italy, the new regulations
issued by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and
Tourism - Direzione Generale Archeologia, Belle Arti e
Paesaggio, with specific reference to the circolare n. 30
of 30/2019, concerning “Archaeological excavations and
research permissions” - D. Lgs. 22.01.2004, n. 42, Artt.
88-89, set out that the archaeological survey related to
archaeological excavations and investigations must be
provided in vectorial format SR WGS84 (EPSG4326).
In light of this need to adopt an approach based on the
use of GIS software for the survey and documentation
of cultural heritage, in 2005 the PyArchinit (Python for
Archeology Project) was created with the aim of creating
a python plugin for the open source Qgis software, aimed
at managing data from archaeological contexts on the GIS
platform (Figure 1).
The main aim was to create an application that can be
used by archaeologists but, at the same time, perfectly
compatible with the formats and territory management
systems used by public administrations (e.g. Piani Regolatori
Generali - PRG in Italy). Our initial goals for the
1.Simple and immediate use;
2.Development with open source software;
3.Supply specific tools for archaeological survey and paperwork.
This last aspect is what makes PyArchinit the first GIS in
the world specifically for archeology.
It uses the Qgis interface as a graphic work environment,
and is shaped by years of practical experience by its developers
gained in the field by its developers, for the creation
of the tools necessary for the production and management
of archaeological data in the GIS environment.
The goal of this article is to provide several practical
procedures for working within the GIS environment in
the archaeological sector, with specific reference to the
excavation site, through open source methodologies and
software such as Qgis and PyArchinit. It will also demonstrate
how to use the data derived from the survey, processed
and managed through Qgis and PyArchinit for enhancement
projects such as 3d modeling and 3d mapping
through Blender software (R.M).
ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY AND DATA
MANAGEMENT WITH QGIS AND PYARCHINIT
The PyArchinit Plugin
GIS technologies, such as the open source software Qgis,
are an extremely useful solution for the production and
management of excavation data. All the documentation
developed during an excavation, such as stratigraphics
units, excavation levels, and other kinds of contexts,
can be digitised through this software, and in particular
through the plugin PyArchinit.
PyArchinit has been created by archaeologists, and it caters
to specific archeology needs. It provides dedicated
tools that allow archaeologists to upload and check all
the digital survey information taken and all the alphanumeric
documentation (paperwork) produced during an
archaeological project (Figure 2).
PyArchinit consists of:
1. A database in which to store and to manage the numerous
amounts of data processed during an excavation
or any other archaeological investigation (e.g. watching
briefs, evaluations trenches, field survey) (Figure 2);
2. Different tools prepared by the plugin that automate
many of the operations that take place during the processing
of archaeological data such as: excavation plans;
phasing plans; harris Matrix reconstruction; inventory and
quantification of the different kinds of archaeological
3. It automatically creates overviews or virtual tables,
in which to merge data from various tables, providing
a bridge between alphanumeric and cartographic data.
This drastically speeds up the analysis and geoprocessing
operations, and facilitates the interpretation of the processed
Fig. 4 - Example of Phasing Plan Template worked out with PyArchinit.
Image by Mandolesi L. 2019.
4. It allows more than one operator at time to access
the database, making it easily possible to modify and
share the work with other colleagues. This is of particular
importance especially with international projects, in
which different universities and specialists from various
countries collaborate together;
5. Finally, these functions allow the user control over the
data integrity and validity of the output,
while cutting down significantly on working time (Figures
3,4,5,6,7) 5 .
Fig. 5 - Example of integrated use of PyArchinit tools: a) visualization on
canvas of a phasing plan digitized; b) Alphanumeric information related
to the archaeologica features digitized; c) Automatic export of the Matrix;
d) Automatic .pdf export of the archaeological paperwork. Image by
Mandolesi L. 2015.
Fig. 6 - Example of PyArchinit Quantification Tools: after filling the data
of the materials table provided by the Plugin, PyArchinit allows you to
set which data you want to quantify and to process histograms of the set
quantification. Image by Montagnetti R. 2019.
The Archaeologica Survey on site
On site, with regard to the survey of various archaeological
features, it is possible to use two different systems:
one manual, conducted with the traditional techniques
such as triangulation or “coltellazio” (the technique of
taking orthogonal measurements through two metric tapes);
and the digital one, using instead computer vision
techniques based on the algorithms of Structure from
In both cases, the procedure consists in referring to some
GCPs (Ground Control Point), located across the interested
area of investigation and previously geolocalized
with the GPS 6 . GCPs can be used both for manual survey
by triangulation and for photogrammetry depending on
the type of survey being used.
For the manual survey of various archaeological features,
as a first step, we need to compose a “Beginning Excavation
Plan” on a 1:20 scale.
This is made using the “Map Editor” tool of Qgis after
georeferencing the area of excavation using the “georeferencer
plugin” provided by the same software. The
following step consists of adding the GCP locations and a
grid 2 seconds of grade wide suitable to enclose an area
of 2 m2 to the “Beginning Excavation Plan”.
Both the GCPs and the vertices of the grid are represented
with a cross shaped symbol and they form the topographical
markers of the plan 7 . Each vertex of the grid
and GCPs must be labeled with its geographic coordinates
in order to carry out the task.
8 ArcheomaticA International Special Issue
Cultural heritage Technologies 9
The purpose of this procedure is to
obtain a georeferenced map, to print
it on a plexiglass base and to take it
to the site (Figure 8). At this point,
archaeologists can simply take a
permatrace (drawing paper) sheet,
place it over the “Beginning Excavation
Plan” on the corresponding area
where there is a feature that must
be drawn and trace from it at least
four topographical markers together
with the corresponding coordinates of
longitude and latitude. After this operation,
the permatrace is transferred
to a drawing board to let the manual
survey by triangulation.
Subsequently the survey of the various
identified contexts, the next
step will be to carry on georeferencing
every scanned permatrace into feature photos to their digital survey. Image by Mandolesi L. 2006.
Fig. 7 - PyArchinit Excavation Management: example of managing and connecting archaeological
Qgis. The centre of each topographical
marker on the drawing must correspond
to the points to be selected
on the screen necessary for georeferencing.
Select the center of each marker with the tool
“Add point” and manually enter the corresponding X and
Y coordinates in the appropriate boxes, just start the
transformation to georeference each individual file.
Once each context has been georeferenced, it can be
digitized directly into the GIS environment with the
PyArchinit tools (Figure 9) (Montagnetti, Rosati 2019).
However, very often, it is preferable to use the photogrammetric
survey especially when dealing with very
important, detail rich archaeological features. In fact,
thanks to the use of photogrammetric software (SFM
software), by taking photos of the features identified
from multiple angles it is possible to reproduce a threedimensional
model of the feature or artefact (Figure
10) 8 .
Later on it will be possible to extract orthophotos of the
various archaeological features from the 3d model 9 and
digitally draw them directly into Qgis with the PyArchinit
tools as we have already seen for the manual survey
(Figure 11). This implies that orthophotos used for digital
survey must be georeferenced.
Fig. 8 - Example of "Beginning Excavation Plan". Image by Montagnetti R. 2019.
Fig. 9 - Example of georeferencing of scanned drawing permatraces.
a) Original scanned drawing sheet; b) Georeferencing into Qgis; c)
Overlay of several georeferenced drawing sheets into Qgis; d)
Vectorialization with PyArchinit provided tools; e) Characterization
of the digital survey with PyArchinit following the stratigraphic SU
order. Image by Montagnetti R. 2019.
Fig. 10 - Example of 3D Model (dense cloud) georeferencing with CloudCompare. Image by Montagnetti 2015.
The georeferencing of these images can be done in two
1. Through the Georeferencer GDAL Plugin of Qgis; in the
same way seen previously regarding
the georeferencing of permatece sheets;
2. Through the Georeferencing of the 3D model of the
features identified with a photogrammetry
software (Figure 10) 10 .
In both cases the georeferencing is based on the GCPs
positioned on the ground on the investigation area, with
geographical coordinates taken with the GPS 11 . This system
saves a considerable amount of time and manpower
and, at the same time, the survey will be much more
accurate 12 . Through this methodology, at the end of the
excavation season, it is also possible to realize the “Final
The procedures described above can also be adopted for
section or profile drawings , albeit with slightly different
expedients. However in this case, unlike plans, it is suggested
to use the traditional system for drawing sections
on site with measuring tape and graph paper sheets of
standard dimensions 0.40m x 0.27m 13 . Once the drawings
of the sections are done, these sheets are scanned and
imported into Qgis and vectorialized with the PyArchinit
tools. Clicking on the Qgis tool “enable grid”, it will be
possible to set the values of the X and Y of the grid, depending
on the scale.
For example, if a 1:20 scale has been used for the drawing
of the section, knowing that the size of the paper is
0.40 m x 0.27 m, the grid will have a value X = 8 m (0.40
x 20) and a value Y = 5.4 m (0.27 x 20) 14 . The result of this
operation is the creation of a grid in which each cell has
dimensions of 8 m x 5.4 m (Figure 12).
At this point it is possible to continue georeferencing
the scanned section drawing, by matching the four ends
of the sheet with the vertices created through the Qgis
“enable grid” function, using the
TPS transformation with a “cubic”
method 15 . After this procedure it is
finally possible to vectorize the drawings
inside Qgis with the special
vectors made available by the PyArchinit
plugin (Figure 13).
PyArchinit for Andorid devices:
To better support excavation operations,
all the collected data can be
transferred onto a tablet in order
to manage and further update info
directly on site through the use of
Qfield, an Android app that can be
downloaded from Google Play.
Qfield allows the user to display and
manage, on an Android tablet or
smartphone, a GIS project created
with Qgis, maintaining all the themes,
the tags, styles and data set in
the Qgis software of a PC.
This application, though it seems to
have a very simple interface, is rich
in useful functions such as tools for digitization, edit geometry
and attributes, query for attributes, GPS support
as well as the ability to insert and customize basic maps,
add photos, use of the device’s camera, and much more.
The benefits of using this system are remarkable; in particular
it allows the implementation of the on-site data
collection(constantly updating the system and creating
an up-to-date overview of the site) and eliminates the
time consuming work of digitizing the registers and the
paper sheets 16 . In this way, being able to transfer our Qgis
project to a tablet, PyArchinit database included (Figure
14), we can directly record the all excavation paperwork
in Qfield and then synchronize the Qfield database with
the Qgis desktop project (master) stored in the laptop at
the end of each day of excavation.
The use of Qfield in the field greatly simplifies the work
of directors and supervisors in planning the excavations,
allowing them to easily instruct the archaeologists directly
in the field. It will allow them to give field workers
directions regarding what they will have to dig, supporting
their explanation with the visual aid of the tablet,
coupled with the information related to what has already
been investigated and entered into the database of the
The advantages of using Qfield are considerable during
the excavation phase, as well as simplifying
the work of archaeologists in drafting their paperwork.
They can continuously refer to the tablet to
obtain the necessary information to insert into their archaeological
documentation, such as the section or plan
numbers of the contexts that have been excavated for
example. Above all they will have much more information
available to provide an interpretation for what they have
excavated and recorded (R.M).
FROM PYARCHINIT TO 3D MODELING WITH BLENDER
The management of archaeological data with Qgis and
PyArchinit allows the user to create thematic maps through
specific queries based on the data entered in the Database.
10 ArcheomaticA International Special Issue
Cultural heritage Technologies 11
Fig. 11 - Example of digital survey of orthophotos obtained from photogrammetric processes using PyArchinit tools. Image by Montagnetti R., Mandolesi L. 2019.
Fig. 12 - Example of Qgis Grid for section drawings. Image by Montagnetti R. 2019.
More specifically, after setting the queries needed,
through the “view” method, the selected alphanumeric
data and their respective vectors are merged together returning
a custom thematic map. Such thematic maps can
be phase plans, time period plans or simple Context/SU
plan or sections and many others (Figure 5).
Using PyArchinit, all these operations are automated. The
user only has to fill in the data in the database, at that
point, through an easy graphical interface and the special
tools provided by the plugin, a variety of maps are easily
produced. Once the thematic map has been created, it can
be exported in a shapefile format with the required EPSG
ID. The data can then be uploaded to Blender using the
BlenderGIS addons 17 . The GDAL libraries used by BlenderGIS
allow users to both import data into the shapefiles format
and maintain the georeferencing of the data (Figure 15).
During the uploading it is possible to use some simple
precautions to divide geometries
into smaller parts in order to obtain
meshes in Blender, such as individual
themes that groupable in dedicated
collections. Also, it is important to
remember that the geometries of a
layer within Blender can be placed
at a certain altitude if the elevation
attribute is present within the table
linked to the shapefile.
Once two-dimensional geometries are
obtained in Blender, it is possible to
model, scale and georeference other
asset models in three dimensions. At
the same time, it is possible to create
virtual reconstructions based on
the thematic divisions of shapefiles.
This means loading all the power of
a geodatabase into a photorealistic
rendering tool such as Blender in
just a few steps. In addition to the
three-dimensional reconstructions of
an archaeological site, it is possible
to perform other tasks and functions:
1. To implement asset models of generic ancient structures
which can be emanated as particles from the individual geometries
distributed over the territory in order to recreate
Landscape (Figure 16);
2. To model the historical landscape from contours 18 and
the DEM on which to place landscape elements coeval to
the era intended to be represented (Figure 17);
3. To take pictures and video of the former landscape, feature,
or artefact, which is useful for informative and/or
4. To create 3d simulations;
5. To create “virtual reality” paths in
order to be able to observe the reconstructions
from inside the
3D model through the “Oculus technologies”
and to be able to personally
verify the quality of the reconstruction
Once a 3D model has been created, the
work can be divided into two paths:
Fig. 13 - Example of digitalization of sections with PyArchinit tools and their exportations. Image by
Montagnetti R. 2019.
1. To connect the scene with other
Blender’s files in order to obtain a new
georeferenced scene with
multiple asset models;
2. To export the 3D modeling into a 2D
model in the shapefile format, from
which it will be possible to reintegrate
the model back into the Qgis platform
to be checked and sent back again to
BlenderGIS with new information.
The aim for the future will be to connect
Blender’s asset models directly to
the PyArchinit geodatabase and to the
augmented reality and virtual reality
12 ArcheomaticA International Special Issue
Cultural heritage Technologies 13
Fig. 14 - Example of PyArchinit into Qfield. Image by Montagnetti R. 2019.
Fig. 15 - Example of exportation of a digital section drawing (Matrix included) from PyArchinit to Blender. Image by Montagnetti R., Mandolesi L. 2019.
Fig. 16 - Examples of reconstructions of ancient landscapes and settlements with Blender. Image by Mandolesi L. 2019
Digital archaeology and data management through GIS systems
is now a well-established reality, and is now making
an entrance into the archaeological sector. Beyond the
benefits already mentioned, these systems speed up operations
which are fundamental and mandatory for those
working in the archaeological field:
1. To have a continuous overview of the investigation
2. To update the data and be able to query it, facilitating
the data validation process (Figure 19);
3. For cross-referencing data.
GIS systems make these operations immediate, but above
Fig. 17 - Example of reconstruction of an historical landscape with Blender based on its contours and DEM. Image by Mandolesi L. 2019.
14 ArcheomaticA International Special Issue
Cultural heritage Technologies 15
all, guarantees the centralized management of all the documentation
produced. This avoiding dispersing data into
hundreds of files creating a tedious, prolonged process
retrieve information 19 . Added to this is the possibility
of further increasing the data available about the area
being investigated thanks to the use of geoprocessing 20
and spatial analysis tools made available by GIS software.
All of this, therefore, has an advantageous effect on the
final interpretation of the collected data, which is the
real motive behind any archaeological research or assesment.
The use of such methodologies will simplify the next
steps of archaeological intervention namely, the spreading
of the collected data, and the preservation and the
Fig. 18 - Example of "virtual reality" with “Oculus technologies” after created 3d animation models intoBlender. In Collaborazione con The Edge Company.
Image by Mandolesi L. 2019.
Fig. 19 - Examples of interactive queries and cross-referencing data with PyArchinit tools. Image by Montagnetti R. 2019.
Fig. 20 - Example of workflow: from digital survey to reconstruction of original aspect of an archaeological site until its enhancement for touristic
purposes. a) Photogrammetric survey by UAV technologies b) Digital survey and 3d reconstruction into Blender c) Rendering in Blender d) Final inclusion
in the Landscape plan template. Image by Mandolesi L. 2019.
16 ArcheomaticA International Special Issue
Cultural heritage Technologies 17
enhancement of the various sites. Archeology has no reason
to exist if it is not preserved, enhanced and shared.
As we demonstrated in this article, thanks to assets like
PyArchinit and Blender it is now perfectly possible to go
beyond the simple survey of an excavation to its threedimensional
reconstruction. There are many practical applications
for these models in addition to the recording of
site data. They can be used for educational and touristic
purposes, but also as a tool for conservation 21 (Figure 20).
All of this would make the understanding of archaeological
sites and ruins easier for non-experts,
increasing interest and awareness in archaeology and in
the importance of its preservation (R.M.).
Author Contributions: Conceptualization, R.M.; methodology, R.M., L.M.
software, L.M.; validation, R.M., L.M.; formal analysis, R.M.; investigation,
R.M.,L.M.; resources, L.M.; data curation, R.M.; writing–original draft preparation,
R.M.; writing–review and editing, R.M.; visualization, R.M.; supervision,
R.M,L.M..; project administration, L.M. All authors have read and
agreed to the published version of the manuscript.
Funding: This research received no external funding.
Acknowledgments: We are grateful to Max Macdonald for his help on checking
this article. We are also grateful to all of the adArte s.r.l. team and to
UnaQuantum inc association for their support and help with the development
of the PyArchinit software.
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
1 This definition is just a personal review that takes its cue from other
definitions: Mogorovich 2010.
2 For a general framework on the advantages of GIS refer to: Antenucci,
Brown, Croswell, Kevany, Archer 1991; specifically for archaeology: Forte
3 Specifically, these consist of: US registers, Drawing registers, Photo registers,
Sample registers, Site sheets, US sheets, Material sheets, Skeleton
and Tafonomic sheets and may other.
4 About this topic refer to: Lelo, Travaglini 2009.
5 For more in-depth information on PyArchinit and its specific tools see:
6 They usually are plastic targets fixed on the ground with nails. Their
number is also implemented step by step with the progress of the excavation
in order to have constant updates and regular coverage of the
whole surveying area.
7 The insertion of the geographical grid, in the cross shaped symbol,
mainly serves to increase the accuracy of the georeferencing of the various
manual drawings, always ensuring an adequate number of GCPs and
as regular a distribution as possible. In fact, a distribution of the points in
a single restricted portion of the area that must be surveyed compromises
the good outcome of the georeferencing; About this issue: Campana
8 In general on the principals of the photogrammetry refer: Kraus 1994;
9 The advantage of georeferencing the 3d model of the various features
consists in the fact of being able to extract from it not only georeferenced
orthophotos but also Digital Elevation Models (DEM). DEM can be
used within Qgis both to obtain the levels of the various archaeological
features identified, avoiding, in this way, to the use of the “Dumpy level”
and for many other Geoprocessing operations such as: extract terrain
profiles, contour and others.
10 E.g. the “Aligns” tool of CloudCompare (Figure 10) or “Reference
Scene” tool of Meshlab. For more in-depth see: www.danielgm.net/cc/;
11 Obviously the number of GCPs can be increased at any time according
to the needs.
12 For more in-depth study about these arguments see: Montagnetti, Chiraz,
Ricci, Pickel, 2019.
13 Sections can also be extracted from the photogrammetric 3d model
to obtain georeferenced façade on which to draw the various contexts
directly in the GIS using the PyArchinit tools. Although, in this case, the
Y coordinates of GCPs should first be reversed with their Z coordinates.
It means getting what is called a “Vertical GIS” (Chavarría Arnau, 2011).
Nevertheless, these procedures ultimately take much longer than manual
drawing on site and a very deep level of knowledge of GIS that not
everyone can have.
14 Same procedure but multiplied by 10 if we have drawn sections in
15 If the section has been drawn on site on more than one sheet of graph
paper, the same technique will be used to obtain a mosaic inside Qgis.
16 For more in-depth check: www.Qfield.org.
17 See: https://github.com/domlysz/BlenderGIS.
18 These contours may be related to the current landscape or may be
those derived from archaeological data.
19 We challenge anyone to manually check the huge amount of paperwork
of an excavation that lasted a few years, and where most likely
hundreds of people have worked or to update the survey, relying only on
hand-made drawings that must necessarily be put together manually on
large overlays. Taking into consideration the fact that only very rarely you
have available highly specialized staff in the archaeological survey at the
expense of its accuracy and precision.
20 Geoprocessing operations are analysis techniques based on the vector
format and used for the derivation of new data from incoming data;
21 Several of these projects, related to 3d prints of monuments and
archaeological artefacts, for example, have been implemented in Syria
following the destruction by ISIS; see https://www.stampa3dstore.com/
Antenucci J.C., Brown, K., Croswell P.L., Kevany M.J., Archer H. (1991).
Geographic Information Systems: a guide to the technology.
Campana S., (2003). Catasto Leopoldino e GIS technology: metodologie,
limiti e potenzialità, Trame nello spazio: quaderni di geografia storica e
quantitativa (1), 71–78.
Chavarría Arnau A. (2011). Padova: architetture medievali: progetto AR-
MEP (2007-2010). Padova.
Forte M. (2002). I sistemi informativi geografici in archeologia, Mondo-
Kraus K. (1994). Fotogrammetria, Torino, Ed. Levrotto & Bella.
Lelo K., Travaglini, C. M. (2009), Il GIS Dell’atlante Storico Di Roma: Metodologie
per l’informatizzazione, l’integrazione e l’analisi Congiunta Delle
Fonti Catastali Ottocentesche, Fonti, Metafonti e GIS per L’indagine della
Struttura Storica del Territorio, Celid, 51–60.
Mandolesi L. (2009) PyArchinit-python, QGIS e PostgreSQL per la gestione
dei dati di scavo, Archeologia e Calcolatori, Supplemento (2), 209-222.
McCoy J. (2004) Geoprocessing in ArcGIS, Redlands.
Mogorovich P.(2010), Sistemi Informativi Territoriali. Appunti dalle lezioni,
Versione 3.216, http://pages.di.unipi.it/mogorov/SIT_Vers_3_216.
pdf. (Retrieved: 12.03.2020).
Montagnetti R., Rosati P. (2019) Georiferire la stratigrafia archeologica,
Archeologia e Calcolatori (30), 463–466.
Montagnetti R., Chiraz P.P., Ricci A., Pickel D.G. (2019) Strumenti, tecniche
e soluzioni Open Source a confronto per l’elaborazione fotogrammetrica
delle immagini digitali in ambito archeologico, Archeomatica (10).
Peuquet D.J. (1988) Representations of geographic space: toward a conceptual
synthesis, Annals of the Association of American Geographers
Selvini A. (1994) Elementi di fotogrammetria, CittàStudi.
Surace L. (1998) La georeferenziazione delle informazioni territoriali,
Bollettino di geodesia e scienze affini (57), 181–234.
The goal of this article is to provide several practical procedures for working
within the GIS environment in the archaeological sector, with specific reference
to the excavation site, through open source methodologies and software such as
Qgis and PyArchinit.
It will also demonstrate how to use the data derived from the survey, processed
and managed through Qgis and PyArchinit for enhancement projects such as 3d
modeling and 3d mapping through Blender software.
PyArchinit; Qgis; Qgis-Belnder; Blender; SFM; Digital Archaeology;
Archaeology; Archaeological Georeferencing
adArte srl Archeologia, Restauro, ICT
IRR and XRF investigations on Annunciata
by Antonello da Messina to trace the
original appearance of The Blue Veil
by Maria Francesca Alberghina, Fernanda
Prestileo, Salvatore Schiavone
Over a century of restorations, archival
documents, research, diagnostic
investigations and exhibitions around the
world to tell an icon of beauty in Sicily.
INTRODUCTION AND RESEARCH AIM
The study of paintings, because of
their compositional complexity, often
requires the combined use of integrated
spectroscopic methodologies and
diagnostic imaging techniques. In this
way, it is possible to exploit the correlation
between data on a small spot
analysis to those of larger scale.
For more than 30 years, among the
possible qualitative and quantitative
spectroscopic analyses, X-ray fluorescence
(XRF) proved to be one of the
most informative methods. Current
scientific studies are aimed at improving
key features to maximize the value
that this technique can provide in this
Archaeometry field. Recently, the efforts
of the Cultural Heritage scientific
community have been addressing
the development of new combined
systems to increase the chemical detection
capability (Trentelman et al.
2010; Hocquet, et al. 2011; Alfeld et
al. 2011; Romano et al. 2017). The
goal has always been twofold: on one
hand, to achieve higher resolution and
analyse, in a non-invasive way, each
layer along a stratigraphic structure;
on the other hand, to attain 2D elemental
mapping, on extended painted
surfaces in shorter time. Indeed, in
many cases, it is not a single point
test which is of interest, but the distribution
of elements across a defined
pictorial surface. This target can be
met by acquiring XRF line and area
Fig. 1 - Antonello da Messina, Annunciata: a) Rome, ICR, 1942, the painting during the
restoration directed by C. Brandi; the extensive repainting are visible as well as the
five areas with raising the colours; b) Annunciata after the restoration (images owned
by the Istituto Superiore per la Conservazione e il Restauro, Rome, Italy, ©Photo
scans. The latest improvements on
XRF systems see the devices combining
different analytical methods and
non-invasive imaging techniques. For
in situ diagnostic studies, the use of
elemental mapping can help identify
an artist’s characteristic palette and
painting technique revealed by Infrared
Reflectography (IRR). Also, it
helps to reconstruct the conservation
history related to undocumented previous
Starting from these new technological
possibilities, a deeper diagnostic
investigation on the Annunciata
painting by Antonello da Messina (Antonio
di Giovanni de Antonio; Messina,
1430-1479) was carried out by
using INTRAVEDO scanner for IRR and
XRF mapping, in order to investigate,
thanks to an innovative equipment,
some technical features of this work
of art up to date remain unclear.
The Annunciata (oil on poplar wood,
45×34.5×0.5 cm), painted around
1476, is currently displayed at Galleria
Regionale di Palazzo Abatellis
in Palermo (Sicily) in the Sala di Antonello.
As reported by Antonino Salinas
and Vito Fazio Allmayer in 1907
(Salinas 1907; Fazio Allmayer 1907),
the painting became part of the museum
collection, the then National
Museum of Palermo, in 1906. It was a
donation by Mrs. Francesca Tamburello
da Salaparuta, sister of Monsignor
Vincenzo Di Giovanni, last owner of
the painting, who ordered the donation
after his death.
Salinas also reported (Salinas 1907)
that, at the beginning, Monsignor
Gioacchino Di Marzo discovered the
panel, which was already worm-eaten,
in the house of Barone Colluzio
of Palermo, the first owner. Di Marzo
then revealed the importance of the
18 ArcheomaticA International Special Issue
Cultural heritage Technologies 19
painting to Monsignor Di Giovanni, who subsequently became
the owner of the painting.
Fazio Allmayer reported (Fazio Allmayer 1907) that at first
Di Marzo attributed the painting to Antonello De Saliba (Di
Marzo 1899), and only at a second time he changed his opinion
by recognising its paternity to Antonello da Messina (Di
Marzo 1903). Brunelli, in 1906, attributed irrefutably this
painting to Antonello da Messina (Brunelli 1906; Devitini &
Righi 2007). Fazio Allmayer reported that the Annunciata
at Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice was a copy and not
painted by Antonello de Saliba, as commonly recognised,
but by Pietro de Saliba passing himself as Antonello in his
best-made paintings, while for those of lesser quality he
signed as Pietro de Saliba (Fazio Allmayer 1907). Di Giovanni
had the painting restored by Louis Aloysio Pizzillo (in an unspecified
period of the second half of 19 th century). Pizzillo,
who was at that time a well-known restorer in Palermo, carried
out a heavy cleaning, according to restoration concept
in that period, repainting of missing parts, colour retouching
and mergering the old with the new through the layers
of paint. Also, Enrico Brunelli, in 1906 about the donation
of the painting to the museum, reported that this had been
poorly restored (Brunelli 1906; Fazzio 2007). Indeed, the retouching
had altered the hands, in particular the right hand,
followed by a “drastic shaving”, as well as the face of the
Virgin, by scraping even the left eyebrow, while all other
repaintings had been made on the dirty surface. The aging
of protective varnish and consequent chromatic alterations
of the paint changed the appearance of the veil, especially
on the left side of the Virgin, blurring the fold over the hand
(on the left side) (Brunelli 1906; Brandi 1942). Since the
Annunciata became part of the collection of the National
Museum of Palermo in 1906, probably the painting did not
go through other restorations. Even if Filippo Ciaccio, restorer
of the museum, remembered that between 1912 and
‘13 the former inspector Matranga deemed it appropriate to
restore the painting. Because in the museum archive there
was no trace of such action, the restoration was likely not
done (Archivio Restauri ISCR, 14 th March 1942).
On the occasion of the Mostra dei dipinti di Antonello da
Messina in 1942, curated by Cesare Brandi, former director
of the Istituto Centrale per il Restauro (ICR) of Rome,
the painting was sent to the Institute. It was restored again
as reported by the same Brandi. Meanwhile its condition
had slowly altered due to: five colour layers raised in the
direction of the wood grain; blackened widespread restoration
(Archivio Restauri ISCR, 13 th March 1942); inequality of
products used for the previous cleaning, mainly carried out
on the flesh tones (Fig. 1).
The panel, slightly curved, showed some fractures on the
back and many holes of woodworm though still protected by
the old primer. The X-ray radiographies revealed the closure
of the worm holes by repainting over (Brandi 1942).
The restoration was performed, under the scientific direction
of Brandi, by the restorer Luciano Arrigo. After the investigation
of the entire surface under ultraviolet lamps and
X-rays, the restoration was consisted of: consolidation of
unsafe parts of painting; removing the paint due to old restorations;
rebalancing the cleaning, and an armature sliding
on the back of the wood panel. The cleaning of the painting
in 1942 revealed: the fold of the veil over her right hand;
the reflections under the lectern; the flashes of light when
the page is cut, all of which appeared in the contemporary
copy of the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice. Moreover,
the faint perspective of the elliptical golden nimbus was removed,
thanks to the radiographic survey in comparison to
Fig. 2 – Palazzo Abatellis, Sala di Antonello, in situ investigations using
INTRAVEDO equipment, an ultra-high-resolution IR and XRF scanner.
its copy in Venice, considered as realised at a later period,
as well as the inscription (Brandi 1942; Archivio Restauri
ISCR 13 th March 1942).
After the ICR restoration in 1942, there were no other documented
restorations except minimal interventions carried
out by Franco Fazzio in 2005 followed by national and international
temporary exhibitions. However, some elements
suggested other interventions, such as the removal of the
patina on the left side of the veil, compared to the photographic
images of ICR when the restoration was completed
(Fig. 1b), there were no shadows (Fazzio 2007).
During the last century, the painting was transferred for
several temporary exhibitions, not only in 1942 (for the
cited exhibition in Rome), but also in 1935 (Paris), 1953 and
1981 (Messina) (Bottari 1953; Regione Siciliana 1981).
More recently, in this century from 2005 to 2007, the Annunciata,
was involved in non-invasive investigations (Ultraviolet
Fluorescence acquisition, Infrared Reflectography and
Infrared False Colour CCD imaging, X-Rays radiographic and
tomographic investigations) (Cacciatore et al 2007; Salerno
et al. 2007, Prestileo & Bruno 2007; Prestileo et al. 2009;
The main purpose of these investigations was to evidence
the state of conservation considering the movement of this
precious masterpiece during some temporary national and
international exhibitions of Antonello da Messina: New York
– Metropolitan Museum (2005-2006); Rome – Scuderie del
Quirinale (2006); Taormina, Museum of Palazzo Corvaja
(2007); Cefalù – Fondazione Mandralisca (2007); Milan – Museo
Diocesano (2007) (Barbera 2005; Lucco 2006; Biscottini
2007; Lucco 2009).
Nowadays, the painting is part of the exhibition Antonello
da Messina held at Palazzo Abatellis (Palermo), at its historical
location (December 2018 - February 2019) and at
Palazzo Reale of Milan (February-June 2019).
The preliminary studies, before Annunciata’s departure for
the exhibitions in 2006, improved the knowledge on execution
technique, materials used and past restoration interventions.
This masterpiece was also included in the diagnostic
campaign carried out by G. Poldi and G.C.F. Villa and
published in the catalogue for the Scuderie del Quirinale
exhibition in 2006. These non-invasive investigations techniques
were performed in 2006 on 30 works of art, aimed
at the study of the palette and the executive technique,
constituting the first systematic scientific study of Antonello’s
corpus. The results showed that, although Antonello did
not use a wide range of palette, he was able to take ad-
Fig. 3 - Antonello da Messina, Annunciata: a) IR Reflectography (2015); b) details of the face and the
veil; c) detail in IR False Colour (2006).
vantage of the materials available, typical during the 15 th
century palette. This gave volumes, tones and chiaroscuro
through mixtures and glazes, calibrating thickness and typology
of the stroke; increasing thick-looking texture of the
surface fabric, or very thin layers for the flesh tones and
the highlights. These surveys also showed a variety types of
underdrawings found in the many work of arts (Poldi & Villa
2006a; Poldi & Villa 2006b; Villa 2006; Benizzoni et al. 2007;
Subsequently, a decade on, the new diagnostic study in this
paper, was carried out in 2015 directly in situ, in the Sala di
Antonello of Palazzo Abatellis, by using XRF-IRR INTRAVEDO
scanner. The study provided new elements specifically for
a correct interpretation of the variations and alterations
of shadows and lights in the veil over the time and of the
painting area between the face of the Virgin and the blue
veil. This pictorial surface, altered in the past by cleaning
interventions, was not studied in depth during the previous
scientific investigations as documented in 2007 by Franco
Fazzio in his technical condition report (Fazzio 2007). In the
case of the paintings analyses, the combined equipment
for performing IR Reflectography and XRF investigation becomes
particularly interesting because the X-ray fluorescence
results complete the information from the diagnostic
IR imaging. In fact, IRR highlights aspects no longer noticeable
in the visible range or hidden by superficial layers, and
the XRF mapping contextually returned the elemental composition
of the overlapped pictorial layers, supporting the
understanding of the pictorial stratigraphy and the distinguishing
of any integration areas.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
The previous and the new investigations of the Annunciata
has always been carried out in situ, in the Sala di Antonello
at the Galleria della Sicilia di Palazzo Abatellis, with portable
instrumentation, by keeping the panel in its showcase
in the closing day of the museum (Fig. 2).
The previous False The previous False Colour
Infrared investigations (Cacciatore
et al. 2007; Prestileo
& Bruno 2007; Prestileo et al.
2009) were performed by using
a Digital CCD Artist camera
(with 23 mm F/1.4 lens and objective
from 18-108 mm F/2.5)
by Art Innovation. The images
acquisitions were made using
the CPS100 manual positioning
system, as sources of lighting,
of two 50W halogen lamps (for
shooting in the visible and infrared
up to 1150 nm).
The new investigation was carried
out by using INTRAVEDO
scanner, an ultra-high-resolution
IR and XRF scanner (and
positioning system Scanner XY:
useful size 1.8×1.8 m, SW for
positioning with 0.1 mm step
reproducibility), to acquire in
situ XRF mapping, for analysing
the chemical composition
of the pictorial layers characterized
by different spectral
response in the IR range.
Indeed, in order to utilise an
XRF mapping acquisition system,
a XY scanner was optimized and integrated, from both
a software and hardware point of view.
The equipment is composed by a motorized XY scanner,
constituted with a modular and light structure, to provide
IR digital Reflectography through an InGaAs sensor. Starting
from this instrumental apparatus, the scanner was integrated
with an automatic positioner system, capable of supporting
a maximum weight of 5 kg. This allows the housing
of other equipment for not-destructive imaging and spectroscopic
investigations. Among the various opportunities,
a system for X-Ray fluorescence analysis coupled with the
automatic positioner scanner provide several advantages.
They guarantee a set-up of constant measurement and controlled
geometry, aimed at creating False Colour maps for
the determination of the spatial and stratigraphic distribution
of the individual chemical elements revealed.
The XRF portable instrument consists of a miniature X-ray
tube system. This includes the X-ray tube (max voltage of
40 kV, max current of 0.2 mA, target Rh, collimator 1 or 2
mm), the power supply, the control electronics and the USB
communication for remote control; a Silicon Drift Detector
(SDD) with a 125 to 140 eV FWHM @ 5.9 keV Mn Kα line Energy
Resolution (depends on peaking time and temperature);
1 keV to 40 keV Detection range of energy; max rate of
counts to 5.6 × 10 5 cps; software for acquiring and processing
the XRF spectra. Primary beam and detector axis form
an angle of 0 and 40 degrees respectively directly pointing
towards the sample surface. Measurement parameters were
as follows: tube voltage 35 kV; current 80 μA, acquisition
time 60 sec for single shot and 20 sec for each spectrum
acquired for lines scanning; no filter was applied between
the X-Ray tube and the sample; the distance between sample
and detector was 1 cm. The setup parameters were selected
to ensure a good spectral signal and to optimise the
signal to noise ratio (SNR).
20 ArcheomaticA International Special Issue
Cultural heritage Technologies 21
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
The Infrared Reflectography obtained
by the InGaAs sensor at 1700
nm confirmed the executive details
shown by previous IR acquisition
(Poldi & Villa 2006a; Poldi & Villa
2006b; Cacciatore et al 2007; Prestileo
& Bruno 2007; Prestileo et al.
2009), highlighting higher resolution
to reveal several changes made by
Antonello and the pictorial areas to
previous restoration treatments. In
particular, the size of the thumb of
the right hand has been changed by
the artist three times, the little finger
of the same hand was more bent
compared to the first draft. Besides,
the middle finger of the left hand
was slightly inclined compared to
the first draft in which it appeared
relaxed and, therefore, longer.
Moreover, in the Virgin’s face, the
underdrawing traces revealed the
areas of shade (area to the left of
the nose and under the chin) and
details of the hair. The flicker holes
of the xylophagous insects, stuccoes
and pictorial integrations due to
1942 restoration (Brandi 1942; Archivio
Restauri ISCR 13 th March 1942;
Archivio Restauri ISCR 14 th March
1942) have been highlighted (Fig. 3).
Previous investigations in Infrared
False Colour already suggested a
spectral difference between the inner
portion of the veil along the left
cheek of the Virgin (Fig. 3) characterized
by a different tone than the
entire veil that reveals the typical
red spectral response of lapis lazuli
blue pigment. This is not distinguishable
in visible image (Cacciatore et
al. 2007; Prestileo & Bruno 2007;
Prestileo et al. 2009).
The different spectral response in
the area between the face and the
veil confirms the need to understand
if this surface is affected by the
thinning of the original blue layer, or
instead, due to a possible undocumented
pictorial integration real-
Fig. 4 - Antonello da Messina, Annunciata: localization on photographic image of XRF single
spot measurements carried out to identify the pigments used on the different layers of
colour and selected marker element for the XRF mapping analysis.
ID area Colour Si Ka S Ka K Ka Sn La Ca Ka Fe Ka Cu Ka Hg La Pb La Sr Ka
A1 Dark Red ND 1847 1150 ND 3147 4698 1577 1200 30544 527
A2 Light Blu 460 1519 1761 ND 3953 1575 619 ND 11823 1201
A3 Black ND 1575 950 ND 19581 813 8485 ND 851 1505
A4 Red ND ND 378 ND 1073 1491 510 1265 32605 629
A5 Dark Red ND 2060 1793 ND 18125 980 772 ND 1019 1890
A6 Brown ND ND 880 1455 6717 4282 439 ND 16004 1429
A7 Brown ND ND 773 1444 2351 1075 556 ND 32789 718
A8 Flesh tone ND ND 539 ND 3687 7712 510 895 19391 1360
A9 White ND ND 344 ND 1366 1098 406 ND 30811 ND
A10 Dark blue 270 1331 1394 ND 3931 1166 523 ND 13067 879
Tab. 1 - Chemical
by XRF single spot
expressed in total
counts, refer to Kα
or Lα peaks of each
element; “ND” (Not
Detected) refers to
the absence or the
presence below the
detection limits for
ized after the ICR restoration of 1942. Moreover, the darker
grey-red colour of some veil area highlights the pictorial
surface involved in typical lapis lazuli degradation named
ultramarine disease, generally favoured in presence of oil
as the binder (de la Rie 2017).
This pigment degradation and the loss of the glazes that
traced back to the chiaroscuro, caused the failure of the
volumetric rendering, key aspect of Antonello’s technique.
Therefore, to contribute to the understanding of the alterations
compromised by the blue layers, a deeper XRF was
carried out in particular on the area between the face (already
affected by historical additions) and the veil in the
surface where the degree of shadows and volumes was altered.
Preliminarily, the new diagnostic campaign involved
the XRF analysis on 10 selected areas (Fig. 4) for the useful
single-spot acquisition to systematically identify the original
pictorial palette, only partially described in the literatures
(Poldi & Villa 2006a; Poldi & Villa 2006b; Villa 2006;
Benizzoni et al. 2007; Poldi 2009; Bellucci et al. 2010; Grassi
2009; Russo & Alvino 2012). In this way, it was possible to
investigate the chemical marker of each original layer and
consequently to provide valuable information to design the
XRF mapping on the surface. This area was characterized by
different FC Infrared spectral responses and by altering the
shades, with respect to past photographic documentation
(before than 1953).
Table 1 shows the identified chemical elements for each of
the 10 areas under investigation. The results suggest the use
of lead white (pure for white layer or mixed in all analysed
pictorial layers), cinnabar (used in very low content and
mixed with iron-based pigment, ochres or earths, for flesh
tone and light red layers), copper-based pigment (constituting
the dark background, also below the Virgin figure as
confirmed by the low counts constantly detected in all XRF
spectra), tin-lead yellow (used to make both light and dark
wood colour) and lapis lazuli (pure, for the blue veil). Not
noticeable XRF differences have been revealed between A2
and A10 measurement areas. Moreover, the use of lake or
dye is suggested on the red layers of the dress of the Virgin.
The XRF scanner, compared to the acquisition of a single
spot, can provide important information on the succession
stratigraphic structure of the pictorial layers. It returns a
mapping of the intensities of signal for each identified element,
directly showing the existing correlation between
the identified chemical elements. In fact, the elemental
maps also represent a statistically significant collection of
spectra, whose peak characteristic can be further analysed.
This helps understand the different attenuation phenomena
from the X radiation (evaluation between the relative intensities
of the characteristic peaks), as well as the relative
position of the layers and their thicknesses.
Starting from the preliminary XRF data on the elemental
composition of flesh tone (face and hands), light blue
(veil) and dark green (background), a linear mapping was
provided on the area of interest to understand the alteration
and stratigraphy of the pictorial blue layer (Fig. 5). The
scanning analyses involved the mercury, lead, iron, copper,
silicon and potassium intensity values to map the elemental
composition variation. In particular, Hg and Fe are markers
of face layer; Cu is the marker of background (underlying
layer); Si and K as markers of blue veil layer (including inner
Indeed, the XRF mapping investigations revealed that the
blue traces, characterised by the different spectral response
in FCIR, in this area are not pictorial integrations
added to the background layer during the past restorations.
Rather, they are residuals of the original lapis lazuli layer
constituting a portion of the blue veil which has been
thinned during the 19 th century intervention. Moreover, in
the area of the veil where the alteration of the original
shadows was found, the absence of iron confirms the removing
or the thinning of a superficial veiled layer, typical of the
Antonello’s technique, generally performed with iron-based
pigments (ochres, earths). This was no longer present and
maybe totally removed during an undocumented intervention
between the 1953 and 1981, as assumed by comparing
the archival photos with the more recent ones of this painting
since the 1980s (Vigni 1952; Regione Siciliana 1981).
The present study provided a review of the conservative history,
from the 19 th century to the present, of the Annunciata
by Antonello da Messina. It examined the archival documentation
related to the documented restorations between the
end of the 19 th century and the 20 th century. It includes the
temporary exhibitions to which the Annunciata was part of,
the previous diagnostic campaigns for the study of the executive
techniques and the state of conservation on both
the wooden support (original and of restoration) and on the
The new diagnostic study was carried out by using INTRAVE-
DO scanner for IR Reflectography (InGaAs detector) and XRF
mapping in order to investigate the painting area between
the face of the Virgin and the blue veil and to identify the
whole pigment palette in this painting. The new findings
presented for the first time in this paper, together with a
critical reading of the archival sources, have provided an
important explanation of a correct historical-artistic reading
of the original appearance of the subject. This study
also represents a scientific support to clarify the conservation
history which leads the painting to its current feature.
The authors would like to thank Dr. Gioacchino Barbera, former
Director of Galleria Regionale della Sicilia di Palazzo
Abatellis, Palermo, for his support and availability. In 2015,
Dr. Barbera gave us the permission to carry out a new diagnostic
campaign on Annunciata. The authors also thank Arch.
Ermanno Cacciatore, Assessorato al Turismo, Regione Siciliana,
Palermo, for his continuous support and advice, and
Arch. Gisella Capponi, former Director of Istituto Superiore
per la Conservazione e il Restauro, for the permission to
publish the archival documentation. Finally, a special thanks
goes to Dr. Zheng Ruan for the written English revision.
Fig. 5 - Antonello da Messina, Annunciata: a) mercury, lead, iron, copper, silicon and
potassium line maps. The iron is totally absent in the area of the veil that in the past
was affected by a dark layer of ochre or earth to define the shadow.
22 ArcheomaticA International Special Issue
Cultural heritage Technologies 23
Alfeld M., Janssens K., Dik J., de Nolf W. & van der Snickt G. (2011).
Optimization of mobile scanning macro-XRF systems for the in-situ investigation
of historical paintings, J. Anal. At. Spectrom. 26, 899-909,
Archivio Restauri ISCR (1942). Documento AS0269a, Scheda Restauro 13
Archivio Restauri ISCR (1942). Documento n. AS0269d, Regia Soprintendenza
alle Gallerie della Sicilia di Palermo, 14 marzo 1942.
Barbera G. (2005). Antonello da Messina Sicily’s Renaissance Master,
catalogo della mostra New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, with
the collaboration of K. Christiansen and A. Bayer, New York.
Bellucci R., Bonami P., Brunetti B.G., Calusi S., Castelli C., Ciatti M.,
Doherty B., Frosinini C., Giuntini L., Grassi N., Mandò P.A., Massi M., Migliori
A., Miliani C., Rosi F., Seracini F., Sgamellotti A (2010). Il restauro
del Ritratto Trivulzio di Antonello da Messina, OPD Restauro 22, 15-54.
Biscottini P. (ed.) (2007). Antonello da Messina. L’Annunciata, Catalogo
mostra Un Capolavoro per Milano. Antonello da Messina. L’Annunciata,
Museo Diocesano, Milano, 4-25 ottobre 2007, Cinisello Balsamo, Silvana.
Bonizzoni L., Caglio S., Gargano M., Ludwig N., Milazzo M., Poldi G. &
Villa G.C.F. (2007). I pigmenti di Antonello da Messina: uno studio con
metodi non invasivi, Proceedings of Convegno Tematico AIAr 2007 Colore
e Arte: storia e tecnologia del colore nei secoli (Bacci M. ed.), Bologna,
Patron Editore, 55-68.
Bottari S. (1953). Antonello, Milano, Principato.
Brandi C. (ed.) (1942). Mostra dei dipinti di Antonello da Messina,
Roma, Ministero dell’Istruzione Nazionale, Istituto Centrale del Restauro,
Brunelli E. (1906). Un quadro di Antonello da Messina nella Pinacoteca
di Palermo, L’arte, 13-17.
Cacciatore E., Prestileo F., Bruno G., Schiavone S. & Alberghina M.F.
(2007). Indagini multispettrali per lo studio dei manufatti di interesse
storico-artistico: applicazione a due dipinti di Antonello da Messina, in
C.R.P.R. (ed.), La Vergine Annunciata. Indagini diagnostiche ed ipotesi
di restauro a cura del C.R.P.R. della Regione Siciliana, Palermo, Fondazione
Federico II Editore, 39-63.
de la Rie E.R., Michelin A., Ngako M., Del Federico E. & Del Grosso
C. (2017). Photo-catalytic degradation of binding media of ultramarine
blue containing paint layers: A new perspective on the phenomenon of
“ultramarine disease” in paintings, Polymer Degradation and Stability
Devitini A., Righi N. (2007). Note storico-artistiche, in P. Biscottini (ed.),
Antonello da Messina. L’Annunciata, catalogo mostra “Un Capolavoro
per Milano. Antonello da Messina. L’Annunciata”, Museo Diocesano, Milano,
4-25 ottobre 2007, Silvana, Cinisello Balsamo, 25-31.
Di Marzo G. (1899). La Pittura a Palermo nel Rinascimento, Palermo,
Di Marzo G. (1903). Di Antonello da Messina e dei suoi congiunti: studi e
documenti, Palermo, Scuola Tip. Boccone del povero.
Fazio Allmayer V. (1907). La Madonna Annunciata attribuita ad Antonello
da Messina al Museo Nazionale di Palermo, Arch. Storico Messinese, 1-15.
Fazzio F. (2007). Antonello da Messina. L’Annunciata, relazione tecnica,
in C.R.P.R. (ed.), La Vergine Annunciata. Indagini diagnostiche ed
ipotesi di restauro a cura del C.R.P.R. della Regione Siciliana, Palermo,
Fondazione Federico II Editore, 65-77.
Grassi N. (2009). Differential and scanning-mode external PIXE for the
analysis of the painting “Ritratto Trivulzio” by Antonello da Messina,
Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B 267, 825-831.
Hocquet F.P, Del Castillo H.C., Xicotencatl C., Bougeois C., Oger C.,
Marchal A., Clar M., Rakkaa S., Micha E. & Strivay D. (2011). Elemental
2D imaging of paintings with a mobile EDXRF system, Anal Bioanal CHem.
Lucco M. (2006). Antonello da Messina. L’opera completa, Catalogo della
Mostra, Roma 18 marzo - 25 giugno 2006, Cinisello Balsamo, Silvana.
Lucco M. (2009). L’Annunciata di Antonello: da Palazzo Abatellis al Museo
di Messina, Catalogo Mostra tenuta a Messina 22 agosto-22settembre
2009, Palermo, Regione Siciliana.
Poldi G., Villa G.C.F. (2006a). Cuius pictura est intuenda admirationi.
Contributo alla comprensione della tecnica di Antonello, in Lucco M.,
Antonello da Messina. L’opera completa, Catalogo della Mostra, Roma
Scuderie del Quirinale, 18 marzo - 25 giugno 2006, Cinisello Balsamo,
Poldi G., Villa G.C.F. (ed.) (2006b), Antonello da Messina: analisi scientifiche,
restauri, e prevenzione sulle opere di Antonello da Messina in
occasione della Mostra alle Scuderie del Quirinale, Cinisello Balsamo,
Poldi G. (2009). Antonello da Messina between Sicily and Venice: the San
Cassiano Alterpiece: technical examination and comparisons, Technologische
Studien 6, 83-113.
Prestileo F., Bruno G. (2007). Indagini multispettrali, in P. Biscottini
(ed.), Antonello da Messina. L’Annunciata, catalogo mostra “Un Capolavoro
per Milano. Antonello da Messina. L’Annunciata”, Museo Diocesano,
Milano, 4-25 ottobre 2007, Cinisello Balsamo, Silvana, 39-43.
Prestileo F., Bruno G., Cacciatore E., Schiavone S. & Alberghina M.F.
(2009). Indagine diagnostica non invasiva sul dipinto su tavola l’Annunciata
di Antonello da Messina, Proceedings of III Convegno Internazionale
La Materia e i Segni della Storia. Scienza e Patrimonio Culturale
nell’Area del Mediterraneo, Palermo, 2007. Collana I Quaderni di Palazzo
Montalbo 15, Palermo, C.R.P.R., 733-738.
Regione Siciliana (ed.) (1981). Antonello da Messina. Catalogo della
mostra a Messina, Museo Regionale, 22 Ottobre 1981 - 31 Gennaio
1982, Roma, De Luca Editore.
Romano F.P., Caliri C., Nicotra P., Di Martino S., Pappalardo L., Rizzo
F. & Santos H. C. (2017). Real-time elemental imaging of large dimension
paintings with a novel mobile macro X-ray fluorescence (MA-
XRF) scanning technique, J. Anal. At. Spectrom. 32, 773-781, 10.1039/
Russo M.V., Alvino P. (2012). Characterization and identification of
Natural Terpenic Resins employed in Madonna con Bambino ed Angeli
by Antonello da Messina using Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry,
Chemistry Central Journal 6, 59.
Salerno G., Lo Sasso D. & Carmicio R. (2007). Imaging digitale e TC
nello studio dell’Annunciata di Antonello da Messina, in CRPR (ed.),
La Vergine Annunciata. Indagini diagnostiche ed ipotesi di restauro a
cura del C.R.P.R. della Regione Siciliana, Palermo, Fondazione Federico
II Editore, 9-25.
Salerno G. (2010). La luce dell’invisibile. C.S.I. nell’arte. Mostra sulle
applicazioni della diagnostica per immagini nell’arte e nella storia,
Palermo, Fondazione Federico II Editore, 2010, 28-31
Salinas A. (1907). L’Annunziata d’Antonello da Messina lasciata al Museo
Nazionale di Palermo, Bollettino d’Arte, 30-31.
Trentelman K, Bouchard M., Ganio M., Namowicz C., Schmidt Patterson
C. & Walton M. (2010). The examination of works of art using in
situ XRF line and area scans, X-Ray Spectrom. 39, 159-166.
Vigni G. (1952), Tutta la pittura di Antonello da Messina, Milano, Rizzoli
Villa G.C.F. (2006), La penna il cappuccio, il mantello e i gambali,
Cavalcaselle alla ricerca di Antonello, Antonello da Messina: analisi
scientifiche, restauri, e prevenzione sulle opere di Antonello da Messina
in occasione della Mostra alle Scuderie del Quirinale, Cinisello
Balsamo, Silvana, 168-189.
A new diagnostic investigation on Annunciata painting by Antonello da Messina
was carried out in situ, in the Sala di Antonello of the Galleria Regionale di
Palazzo Abatellis in Palermo (Sicily). It was carried out by using INTRAVEDO
scanner for IR Reflectography (InGaAs detector) and XRF mapping, in order to
investigate, thanks to an innovative equipment, the blue painting area, and in
particular, the area between the face of the Virgin and the blue veil (on her left
side). This pictorial surface, probably altered in the past by a heavy cleaning
(date back to the 19 th century) that involved the face and hands, was not clearly
understood during the previous scientific studies. The finding here has provided
an important assumption for a correct historical - artistic reading of the
original appearance of the subject and represent a scientific support to clarify
the conservation history which leads the painting to its current state. The new
studies provided a common understanding of the available archive information,
previous restorations and diagnostic investigations carried out over time.
Antonello da Messina palette; lapis lazuli; MA- XRF; IR False Colour;
Maria Francesca Alberghina
CNR – Istituto per la Conservazione e la Valorizzazione dei Beni Culturali, Area della
Ricerca di Roma 1, Via Salaria km 29,300, 00015 Moterotondo S. (Roma),
S.T.Art-Test di S. Schiavone & C s.a.s., via Stovigliai, n. 88, 93015 - Niscemi (CL),
Hazards, heritage protection
and disasters resilience
Competence, Liability and Culpability. Who's the blame?
by Claudio Cimino
Looking back at the past seventy or so years, it is hard to remember of a time when culture
and cultural heritage have been more threatened. The third most important economic
resource in Europe is seriously threatened in spite of the increased efforts made to protect it.
Responsibility, Liability and Culpability. Who's the blame?
CULTURAL HERITAGE AND TOURISM,
A SOMETIMES UNCOMFORTABLE LIAISON
Tourism is today considered the third most important sector
in the European economy. During the last decades, tourism
confirmed to be a a strong source of employment giving a
significant contribution to the generation of the overall EU
GDP. The sector kept growing significantly in Europe also
during the severe economic conditions suffered as a result
of the financial crisis started in 2007. Tourism, directly and
indirectly generates over 17 million jobs in the EU with operators
engaged in a broad range of economic areas.
Based on the current trends, tourism worldwide is expected
to further grow during the coming decades, although under
a variety of geographic, socio-economic, cultural, etc. declinations,
which are also connected to travellers age range,
social access and economic status.
In 2012 the tourist expenditure in the EU registered an increase
reaching 291 € billions (EU 28) compared to the 265
€ billions of the prior period (EU 27) 1 . The UNWTO 2 reported
a similar general tendency with international tourism breaking
for the first time in history the one billion tourists in
2012 with a worldwide growth rate ranging between 3-5%
yearly during the same period, although several regions of
the world registered an even better overall performance.
During the last few decades, the World Bank group and international
donors’ programmes accompanied the positive
trend focusing on tourism as a catalyst to promote socioeconomic
development for the improvement of living conditions
and social stability of local communities. A process
that involved and still involves public and private investors
and stakeholders with the participation of big investment
groups but also small ones, often including little individual
investors who are able to detect very interesting investment
opportunities. Such a composite investors’ portfolio is the
main reason why any estimate provided about the effective
investment made in this sector risks to underscore the
To meet the needs of the very articulated tourist market,
several countries adopted specific policies making significant
investments to develop and innovate structures and
infrastructures to preserve and promote their natural and
cultural heritage acknowledging the immense intrinsic values
and high economic potentials of these non-renewable
TOURISM, CLIMATE CHANGE & GLOBAL WARMING,
URBAN DEVELOPMENT, NEGLIGENCE, CONFLICTS
AND OTHER THREATS. CULTURAL HERITAGE IS AT RISK!
However, in spite of the several recommendations issued by
UNESCO, UNWTO, ICCROM and other specialised organisations,
often investments on tourism development programmes
neglect to introduce mechanisms for the protection of
natural and cultural heritage sites from all sort of hazards,
including those posed by the same visitors. Considered the
current large numbers of tourists and those expected in the
near future, it is imperative that stricter regulatory policies
and DRR plans are introduced to help mitigate the impact
of the heavy anthropic action on natural and cultural sites
aware that tourism represents just one of the sources of
threat for natural and cultural heritage.
Actually, major natural and man-made disasters in the past
were relatively sporadic if compared to the current dynamics.
We assist today to natural events marked by unprecedented
violence and frequency that are often associated
to global warming and climate change. Not less violent are
the events caused by terrorism, armed conflicts, neglect
and/or mismanagement. Combinations of major natural
and anthropogenic events with a domino effect like in the
dramatic disaster of Fukushima are also frequent.
Although a few political leaders deny the evidence, the
hazards posed by global warming and climate change are
acknowledged by most world leaders, especially considering
that 170 over a total of 197 States Parties to the United
Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change ratified
24 ArcheomaticA International Special Issue
Cultural heritage Technologies 25
2015 Paris Agreement, confirming that significant policies
are necessary worldwide to attempt reduce the trend 3 .
Meanwhile, projections issued by the United Nations in
2014 estimate that the world urban population will sensibly
grow passing from 54% in 2013 to 66% in 2050 4 . An increased
consumption of territory should be expected as a result in
most regions of the world while the highest concentrations
of population will be reached in Europe, the USA and Asia
where over 80% of the population will be settled in densely
inhabited cities while the remaining 20% will be living in a
practically emptied countryside. For opposite reasons, this
split human settlement model introduces new factors of threat
on both rural and urban heritage.
In fact, in areas characterised by a low density of population
the risks are associated to a reduced territorial control
including for the protection of natural and cultural heritage,
resulting in lower security conditions and relatively
limited capacity to manage major events such as fires, landslides,
erosion, earthquakes, floods, etc. according to a
sadly well known pattern.
In cities exposed rapidly growing population and higher
density, instead, the fast urban development or/and the
regeneration of the built stocks available, leaves room for
typical speculative models, often imposed by groups of (financial)
interest pressing on regional and local authorities,
resulting in interventions that involve heavy land use, soil
erosion, destruction of historic townscapes, gentrification
and loss of authenticity, directly and indirectly exposing heritage
at risk from a variety of threats that jeopardise the
whole conservation of historic cities, archaeological sites
and their surrounding cultural landscapes and natural environment.
Heavy land use, promotion of intensive urban development
and lack of proper regional planning instruments
leave always visible signs of their impact on heritage and
environment. That is why a proper planning and monitoring
of these activities should be methodically conducted
starting with a making Impact Assessment. The introduction
of this instrument would be extremely useful to inform
the whole chain of decisions making in urban and regional
planning, however, unfortunately it is not sufficiently widespread
There is an increased institutional awareness today of the
widespread contingent situations threatening natural and
cultural heritage wherever located in urban or open rural
areas and of the need to adopt appropriate disaster risk reduction
measures to prevent, mitigate and respond to every
sort of threat. Several EU H2020 DRS research projects are
currently studying the problems connected to urban and rural
heritage protection in areas affected by climate change,
global warming and subject to natural and anthropogenic
However, cultural heritage today is also increasingly exposed
to the risk from the effects of social unrest, symmetric
and asymmetric armed conflicts, terrorism, sacking, looting,
illicit trafficking, and other threats of anthropogenic
nature that are frequently reported within the daily news.
The 2016 edition of the Conflict Barometer states that 226
violent conflicts occurred in 2015 and during the same period
38 conflicts were classified as highly violent 5 . Millions
of civilians are forced out of their endangered homes every
year and most of them leave their countries in search for
safer environments bringing with them only fragments of
their often rich cultural legacies.
It is evident that natural and cultural heritage worldwide
are exposed to all sorts of threat. Phenomena of huge magnitude
that severely hit vast portions of territory, causing
disastrous effects on structures, infrastructures as well as
on heritage, clearly jeopardising the chances of a socioeconomic
benefit in return from the public and private investments
The concerned specialised community worldwide search for
alternative and more advanced solutions for different types
of threats, a better understanding of the causes of threats
and to propose alternative methods to improve the level of
protection of natural and cultural heritage at risk.
Several international and national Agencies and Research
Centres developed studies and applied with important investments
to help the concerned authorities protect cultural
heritage with adequate measure in response to the
multiple hazards threatening its resilience.
In the attempt to contribute find scientific and technological
solutions, since several years the EU launched a series
of calls for proposals for research projects especially but
not solely within the EU Framework Programme and some
relevant research projects are currently ongoing within the
Horizon 2020 and the JPI CH programmes.
On December 7, 2016, the EU DG RTD organised an experts
meeting held in Brussels (B) with the participation of several
international agencies and experts of various disciplines
engaged in the protection of cultural heritage worldwide.
A number of queries were posed for the development of a
comprehensive European approach and find possible solutions
for the implementation of concrete measures to protect
threatened natural and cultural heritage 6 .
It is expected that further research and international cooperation
projects will be promoted through all the available
instruments within the EU 2014-2020 programmes and
given the complexity of the problematic to be addressed,
probably also the next seven years and innovation for the
period 2021-2027 will promote research and innovation for
the concrete development of cultural heritage protection
The need to protect cultural heritage at risk has been lately
addressed also within the Council of Europe Convention on
Offences relating to Cultural Property (Nicosia, 19/05/2017
Treaty No. 221). The Convention aims to prevent and combat
the illicit trafficking and destruction of cultural property,
in the framework of the Organisation’s action to fight
terrorism and organised crime. A very necessary convention
keeping in mind that the European zone is considered one
of the regions of the world most affected by international
STATE OF THE ART IN CH PROTECTION AND INPUTS NEEDED
As mentioned, several international organisations and state
agencies are currently working at the definition of strategies
and models to respond in case of major natural and
man-made events however, so far only few countries have
been able to develop properly designed progressive plans
for the protection of natural and cultural heritage. In spite
of their commitment to the UNESCO Conventions, in case of
major events States Parties are often caught unprepared as
they lack of adequate Disasters Risk Reduction (DRR) policies
and adequate measures to secure heritage resilience.
Apart from a few exceptions, state agencies and local authorities
are aggravated in their ordinary of maintenance,
monitoring and conservation tasks and most cultural heritage
sites lack of properly designed management plans (if
any) while based on international conventions they are expected
to also deploy proper risk preparedness plans providing
also measures to reduce the effects and, respond to all
sort of extreme events cultural heritage.
Fig. 9 - Sezione - prospetto elaborata con 3DReshaper.
Budget restrictions, lack of trained personnel and means,
absence of emergency plans, weak or no cooperation
between national agencies. These are usually claimed to be
the main reasons for failure vis-à-vis events that find the
concerned authorities widely unprepared to protect natural
and cultural heritage when major events happen. The consequences
are under our eyes.
However, waiting for the development of scientific and
technological research and innovation to be available and
facilitate their tasks, a preventive heritage conservation
and protection is possible by adopting an integrated regional
management approach within an inter-agency cooperation
framework. An approach that would permit to maximise
the use of financial, structural and human resources available
for the development of early detection strategies to
identify different sources of threat and for the deployment
of preventive DRR measures designed for the protection of
natural and cultural heritage an evident beneficial effect
also for the local communities.
Innovative, efficient and operative cooperation agreements
between agencies are necessary and could be sufficient to
deploy and implement proper risk preparedness plans at a
territorial scale. However, inter-agency cooperation in most
cases is still far from becoming a widespread reality often
due to guilty neglect or worse to internal political hostility
between parties in constant competition. It is a global
phenomenon that affects several countries and confirms a
tendency to breach the Sendai Framework 7 .
There are however, a few countries where promising experiences
of inter-agency cooperation are implemented for
the protection of cultural heritage and DRR policies are set
with the direct involvement of concerned public and private
stakeholders. For the time being these cases represent an
exception rather that a common practice.
I like to mention here the case of the War Free World Heritage
Listed Cities, a 46 months project completed in December
2013 thanks to an EU grant within the ENPI CIUDAD
programme. The project was coordinated by WATCH 8 in
partnership with the Council of the United Municipalities of
Byblos (Lebanon) and the Municipality of Mtskheta (Georgia)
in Association with NEREA (Italy) and FOCUH (Turkey), with
backstopping from UNESCO, ICCROM, IIHL, ICOM and the Austrian
Army and with the participation of international experts
of various disciplines from ICOMOS ICORP, Securcomp
and several other organisations (info in: www.warfreeheritage.net).
Main objective of the project was to develop models of
good urban Governance by planning and implementing
comprehensive Risk Preparedness Plans for the Enhanced
Protection of two world heritage sites according to the Second
Protocol to the UNESCO 1954 Convention of The Hague
(Convention) 9 .
Thanks to the multidisciplinary, inter-sectorial approach
adopted in the project a methodology was established for
the implementation of the Convention with an urban and
regional planning approach looking at cultural heritage risk
management as a matter of Good Governance at territorial
level taking into account all types of threats.
The methodology was tested in Georgia and Lebanon and
apart from achieving the set objectives, the sustainability
of the action was confirmed when, after two more years of
cooperation between, a draft dossier for the nomination of
the Historical Monuments of Mtskheta and the surrounding
protection zone prepared within the project framework was
further developed and finally submitted in March 2015 by
the Government of Georgia to UNESCO for approval by the
International Committee for the Protection of Cultural Property
in the Event of Armed Conflict.
The dossier was finally approved in December 2016 and Enhanced
Protection was granted to the Historic Monuments
of Mtskheta that became the 11 th heritage site listed in this
list, and now the site is placed under the highest level of
protection possible according to international law.
A conclusion sealing an experience and a track record of
achievements that can now be replicated in support to any
other State Party of the Convention and UN Member States
at large. This especially based on art. 20 of the UN Resolution
2347 (2017) adopted by the Security Council at its
7907 th meeting, on 24 March 2017 calling ‘upon UNESCO,
UNODC, INTERPOL, WCO and other relevant international
organizations, as appropriate and within their existing mandates,
to assist Member States in their efforts to prevent
and counter destruction, looting and trafficking of cultural
property in all forms’.
However, in spite of being an important achievement Enhanced
Protection actually represents the beginning of an
itinerary. In fact, like in any other UNESCO Conventions,
State Parties are requested to maintain, continuously improve
and update the level of site management described
in the nomination dossier and to abide also with the recommendations
received from UNESCO to ensure the respect of
the prescribed conditions.
COMPETENCE, LIABILITY AND CULPABILITY.
WHO’S THE BLAME?
Is there a chance to turn threats to natural and cultural
heritage into opportunities for a good regional Governance?
The experience made so far demonstrated that costs associated
to design and concretely deploy dynamic risk
preparedness measures on the territory to prevent/mitigate
the impact of major events on natural and cultural
heritage can be relatively contained. As mentioned, this is
possible thanks to the maximisation and harmonised use of
resources normally available under countries under various
declinations (e.g. State agencies, Civil protection, Fire departments,
Police, Army, ICRC, Specialised Civil Society Organisations,
Universities and Research centres) resulting in
the optimization of the institutional efforts needed.
Any responsible executive wishing to develop a DRR plan
for the protection of natural and/or cultural heritage from
the existing intrinsic and territorial hazards should consider
to use urban/regional planning approach and models of
good Governance, following UNESCO and/or ICCROM recommendations/guidelines
for risk assessment, mitigation and
response adapted to the heritage context of application.
To prevent duplication of efforts and overlapping, before
undertaking the endeavour s/he should try to verify the following
1. Is there any DRR Plan to protect your cultural heritage
2. Has an inter-agency risk management committee for
the protection of cultural heritage under extreme
events been set? Were the respective referent persons
identified and were contacts with/between them
3. Has a 24/7 early risk management plan been prepared
and tested to secure the timely implementation of the
set emergency measures within whatever context?
4. How many persons are available and which duties are
they assigned? Have they been properly (re)trained,
organised and equipped during the last 12 months to
26 ArcheomaticA International Special Issue
Cultural heritage Technologies 27
be ready to implement DRR for the protection of the
selected heritage site whatever the type of natural/
5. How many public awareness campaigns on the heritage
sites values and policies for their protection were
promoted locally/nationally to promote widespread
information to various age target groups and stakeholders?
As mentioned Conventions, International Law, Directives
and a wealth of Recommendations and Guidelines are there.
Some good practice now exist and also a quite widespread
literature produced by UNESCO, ICCROM, and several other
specialised international organisations are now available.
The responsible officers should take the time to reply to the
above and other questions of the type at least twice a year,
search for answers to questions that have not an immediate
answer. May answers remain pending a proper verification
of existing DRR plans should be conducted and, if needed,
plans should be further developed and enforced.
The promotion of preventive measures for the protection of
heritage sites at risk with an urban / regional planner approach
has a positive impact at a territorial level since the
risk assessment and DRR measures studied for natural and
cultural heritage would would apply also to structures, infrastructures
and areas of interest for the whole community
of the analysed territory. As said, the all process of planning
and deployment of dynamic DRR measures for the protection
of natural and cultural heritage from disasters can be
realised at a relatively contained cost by maximising the use
of available human resources and budgets, promoting interagency
cooperation and involving specialised no-profit civil
society organisations. An approach repeatedly suggested in
several conference, reccommendations and publications
There is a very thin difference in a choice between possible
and not possible in the domain of heritage protection and it
can be very well linked to the difference between ‘will or
not’ of the responsible executive.
In fact, similarly to any good manager in a SWOT analysis,
the competent executive officer should be able to transform
a threat into an opportunity and, a weakness into a
A competent executive officer would also be re-liable and
could easily set the most appropriate scenario to initiate,
gradually develop and implement an exhaustive risk assessment
and early detection plan and deploy the relative DRR
measures necessary for the protection of the heritage site
and its surrounding area/territory. Any responsible executive
unable to set the necessary plan should question whether
s/he has got the required competence, and/or in case,
consider if appropriate to involve an external supporting
expertise. An executive who denies the need of establishing
properly designed risk preparedness measures and leaves
the site exposed to threats should be considered guilty in
case of disaster and should be blamed for any consequences
caused to people and heritage site s/he is responsible for.
1 Source EUROSTAT http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/tourism/statisticsillustrated
2 Source UNWTO Highlights, 2013 Edition. http://www.e-unwto.org/doi/
3 The Agreement builds on the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention
on Climate Change Agreement see: http://unfccc.int/paris_
4 United Nations. Department of Economic and Social Affairs. World Urbanization
Prospects, 2014 revision. https://esa.un.org/unpd/wup/
5 Conflict Barometer is published at the Heidelberger Institut für
Internationale Konfliktforschung (HIIK). https://www.hiik.de/en/konfliktbarometer/
6 Cultural heritage, disaster resilience and climate change: the contribution
of EU research and innovation. https://europa.eu/newsroom/events/
7 EU priorities in the context of the Sendai Framework: (1) Building risk
knowledge in EU policies; (2) An all-of-society approach in disaster risk management;
(3) Promoting EU risk informed investments; and (4) Supporting the
development of a holistic disaster risk management approach
8 World Association for the Protection of Tangible and Intangible Cultural
Heritage in times of armed conflicts
9 The 1999 Second Protocol to the (1954) UNESCO Convention of The Hague
for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed
(10) H. Stovel, ‘Risk Preparedness: A Management Manual for World Cultural
Heritage’ ed. ICCROM et al. in 1998.
In ordinary circumstances managing cultural heritage is not any easy, yet,
lately it turned into a much more challenging job. During the last few decades
we assisted to an increased number of disasters caused by events of
unprecedented frequency and dimensions with significant losses of human
lives, devastated territories and heritage. This article analyses the reasons
why in spite of their commitment to UNESCO Conventions in case of disaster
States Parties are often caught unprepared due to lack of concrete Disasters
Risk Reduction (DRR) measures to secure heritage resilience.
Disaster Risk Reduction, Regional/Urban Governance, Enhanced Protection,
UNESCO Conventions, Heritage Impact Assessment.
Secretary General, WATCH (World Association for the Protection of
and Intangible Cultural Heritage in times of armed conflict);
Board of Architects, Urban planners, Landscape designers and Conservators
of Rome; Founder of Alchemia Project Associates (Italy)
The Crucifix Chapel of Aci Sant’Antonio:
Newly discovered frescoes
by Antonino Cosentino, Samantha Stout, Raffaello di Mauro, Camilla Perondi
In this paper we present the discovery of a series of frescoes for the first time, revealed in 2012 during a restoration carried
out in the Crucifix chapel in the Mother Church in the town of Aci Sant’Antonio, Sicily. The mural paintings were preserved in
each of the corners of the square chapel, behind an early 20th century counter wall. In this paper, we also show the application
of multispectral imaging (MSI), portable XRF spectroscopy (pXRF) and Fiber Optics Reflectance Spectroscopy (FORS) for the
identification of pigments on this interesting case of mural paintings. Documentation from the 20th century remodeling is
available, and when taken into account along with this case study, represents an interesting case of “terminus ante quem” (TAQ)
chronology since we are aware of the date when the last retouching to the square chapel walls could have been applied.
The Mother Church of Aci Sant’Antonio was originally
built in 1566, and dedicated to Sant’Antonio. In 1693
it was rebuilt in the then current baroque style after
a destructive earthquake occurred. Its internal layout forms
a Latin cross with three naves, a transept and side chapels.
Inside the church, several kinds of liturgical artworks are
conserved, such as the wooden choir, and the frescoes by
Pietro Paolo Vasta situated along the walls and the vault of
the apse. Pietro Paolo Vasta (Acireale, 1697-1760) is considered
one of the leading figures of Sicilian art. In 1734 the
painter opened a workshop in Acireale where he received
other artists as apprentices, such as Michele Vecchio, Alessandro
Vasta (his son), and Giuseppe Grasso Naso. The Crucifix
Chapel is the closest one to the apse, along the left
nave, figures 1 and 2. It has an octagonal floor plan, which
was realized within the original square-shaped one. During
the maintenance works on the ceiling, carried out between
2012 and 2013, the original shape and features of the chapel
were revealed. The current octagonal arrangement is dated
to the beginning of the 20th century, and the new walls are
joined to the preexisting ones with tie-hooks in only a few
places. The discovery of the 18th century frescoes made it
necessary to pause the current restoration work and reflect
on the best way to represent the space. The choice was
made to maintain the octagonal shape of the chapel, while
making the frescoes in the corner niches visible by way of
The original cycle of paintings was spread across the four
walls of the square room. The paintings represent classic
themes of the last days of earthly Christ: Last Supper; Jesus
meets the Virgin, which, in the Sicilian folk tradition represents
the last moment before Christ ascends to Heaven
(there are no traces of this episode in the Holy Scriptures);
Fig. 1 - Crucifix Chapel, Mother Church, Aci Sant’Antonio. Split panorama
of the chapel after the renovation. The murals were found in 2012 during
renovation works, and the windows at each of the four corners allow the
18th century frescoes decorating the original chapel to be seen.
Agony in the garden; Kiss of Judas; Flagellation; Jesus at the
column; Flagellation in Via Crucis; Jesus fallen down under
the Cross; Crucifixion.
This cycle of frescoes is attributed to the painter Giuseppe
Grasso Naso, pupil of Pietro Paolo Vasta, as the execution
style corresponds to other mural paintings completed
by the artist. Moreover, Don Vittorio Rocca, the priest of
Aci Sant’Antonio, has found documentation. The account
book of the Mother Church for the period between 1768
and 1792, figure 3, declares a payment to Grasso Naso, and
thus validating the attribution of the artwork to the Sicilian
painter and dating the paintings to the 18th century. The
painter would have worked in the chapel just a few years
after Vasta had completed the frescoes in the presbytery.
The first few lines of text on page 102 are a record of the
payments made to the artists working on the decorations of
the chapel from the end of August, 1773.
28 ArcheomaticA International Special Issue
Cultural heritage Technologies 29
Fig. 2 - Crucifix chapel, Mother Church, Aci Sant’Antonio. Drawing of the
floor plan with location of the frescoes and description of the scenes
Fig. 3 - Photograph of the archive showing financial transactions of
the Parish from the month of August, 1773 to the painter Giuseppe
“In primis onze 10:4 tarì pagati a Don Giuseppe Grasso
pittore e al maestro Cristofalo Grasso come per mandato
spedito a 23 agosto 6 ind. 1773.”
10 onze and 4 tarì payed to Don Giuseppe Grasso painter
and to master Cristofalo Grasso as per mandate sent on 23rd
August 6th ind. 1773.
“Onze 6 al sig. Don Alessandro Vasta pittore per mandato
spedito a 31 agosto 6 ind. 1773.”
6 onze to Don Alessandro Vasta painter as per mandate sent
on 31st August 6th ind. 1773.
“Onze 2: tarì 9 al signor Mariano Leotta doratore e per
mandato spedito 31 agosto 6 ind. 1773.”
2 onze and 9 tarì to Mariano Leotta guilder as per mandate
sent on 31st August 6th ind. 1773.
“Onze 3 e 4 tarì a maestro Nunzio Grasso come per mandato
spedito 31 agosto 6 ind. 1773.”
3 onze and 4 tarì to master Nunzio Grasso as per mandate
sent on 31st August 6th ind. 1773.
The onza and the tarì were the coins circulating in Sicily
during the 18th and 19th century, until the unification of
Italy in 1860. Each onza (4.4 g of gold) corresponded to 30
tarì. The quoted name, “Giuseppe Grasso painter” refers to
Giuseppe Grasso Naso (Acireale, 1726-1791), a pupil of Pietro
Paolo Vasta, not Giuseppe Grasso (Acireale, 1759-1800)
who was known as Giamingo.
Overall, the paintings appear to be in good condition; however,
those on the North wall (same side as the altarpiece)
show signs of deterioration. Here, a substantial difference
in the state of conservation occurs due to the presence
of moisture, which has caused the plaster layer to crack,
resulting in localized detachments. The chapel was incorporated
within the internal area of the church, making it
protected from the weather to a height of about 3.8 meters.
However, the wall where the altarpiece is positioned
is external with respect to the church, making it more vulnerable
in general to water damage. Therefore it remains
that the upper part of the painted areas is drier and better
preserved while the decorative frames seem to have been
refashioned several times over the centuries. The presence
of moisture must have been more evident before the 19th
century and before the construction of later additions. The
construction of the octagonal chapel resulted in drops of
lime (CaCO3 nH2O) being splashed onto the adjacent paintings.
Additionally, in several points it is possible to observe
abrasions and holes from incidental damages caused by the
equipment necessary to build the walls of the new chapel.
The main objectives of the scientific investigations presented
in this paper, multispectral imaging, pXRF, and FORS
were to identify pigments and localize areas of later retouchings
on the wall paintings, thus obtaining very pertinent
information which would be used to guide the cleaning
intervention. To the best knowledge of the authors there
is only one other published work on frescoes linked to the
school of Paolo Vasta .
Multispectral imaging (MSI) [2, 3] is used for the non-destructive
identification of pigments. This study illustrates
MSI images in 3 spectral bands: Ultraviolet, UV (360-400
nm); Visible, VIS (400-780 nm) and Infrared, IR (780-1100
nm). The acronyms for the MSI methods presented in this
paper highlight first the spectral band followed by R (Reflected),
F (Fluorescence), FC (False Color). So the 5 imaging
methods are called VIS (Visible), IR (Infrared), UVF (UV
Fluorescence), UVR (UV Reflected) and IRFC (Infrared False
Color). It is mandatory to point out that, due to the nature
of the painted surface, these optical methods are problematic
and the user may be subjected to make interpretations
and draw conclusions that remain uncertain. Therefore, to
identify pigments with an acceptable degree of certainty,
at least one other material specific technique must be employed,
such as pXRF and FORS used in this study.
The MSI images presented in this paper were acquired with a
Nikon D800 DSLR (36 MP, CMOS sensor) digital camera modified
for “full spectrum”, ultraviolet-visible‐infrared photography
(between about 360 and 1100 nm), figure 4. The CMOS
sensor responds both to the near infrared and near ultraviolet
ranges of the spectrum and the manufacturer installs
an IR cut-off filter in front of the sensor to reduce infrared
transmission. There are companies that remove this filter in
commercial cameras, which are then said to be “full spectrum”.
The Nikon D800 camera was tethered to a computer
to allow sharp focusing in non‐visible modes (IR and UV)
using live view mode. The filters used for the MSI were: a)
For Ultraviolet Reflected (UVR) photography, the B+W 403
filter together with the X-NiteCC1. The B+W 403 allows just
the UV and IR light to pass, and the X-NiteCC1 is necessary
to stop the IR produced from the UV lamp; b) For Visible
(VIS) photography, just the X-NiteCC1 filter is sufficient; c)
For UV Fluorescence (UVF) photography, the B+W 420 must
be mounted to stop the reflected UV, and the X-NiteCC1 is
also necessary to exclude any infrared from the UV lamp; d)
For Infrared (IR) just the Heliopan RG1000 is used. A Nikon
Nikkor 200 mm f/4 AI manual focus lens was used for all the
MSI photos produced using the panoramic method . Two
1000 W halogen lamps were used for VIS and IR photography;
for UV photography, one high-Flux 365nm LED lamp
of Judas and 15 on the painting the Flagellation. Spectra
were subsequently processed and visualized using Bruker
ARTAX software. The approach taken with the pXRF analysis
was to acquire qualitative elemental readings on the materials
present in the pigments used in the wall paintings.
This was to be a quick point-based assessment that would
serve to complement the more “global” analysis carried out
with multispectral imaging.
Fig. 5 - Acquisition of pXRF spectra on the Flagellation mural painting
in the Crucifix Chapel.
Fig. 4 - The panoramic multispectral imaging system used to
document the mural paintings in the Crucifix Chapel.
X-ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy
The multispectral imaging was complemented by a qualitative
elemental analysis carried out using portable x-ray
fluorescence spectroscopy (pXRF), figure 5. The instrument
used was a handheld Bruker AXS Tracer III-SD® (Kennewick,
WA USA), equipped with a Rh anode for the production of
x-rays, operating at 40keV maximum voltage, and capable
of selecting a tube current between 2-25 μA. Spectra were
collected by means of a Si-SDD detector with a resolution
of 145 eV, FWHM at Mn (5.9 keV). Detector and source are
orientated in 45° geometry, and the spot size is of elliptical
shape approximately three by four millimeters (9.4 mm2).
All measurements were performed in air, with a voltage of
40 kV, a current of 11.2 μA, and an acquisition time of 30
seconds. These settings allowed the detection of elements
of atomic number 13 (Al) or higher, however the detector is
most efficient in identifying elements above atomic number
20 (Ca). The settings also provided a sufficient raw count
rate (range 50,000-110,000, avg. 90,000) to acquire representative
spectra without saturating the detector. Measurements
were taken at an assortment of points selected to
include each of the colors used in the palette in one or two
different areas on each of the paintings. The instrument
was operated in the field using a rechargeable Li-ion battery
and a laptop computer for control and data storage. A
total of 28 spots were analyzed, 13 on the painting the Kiss
Fiber Optics Reflectance Spectroscopy
It was used a portable and miniaturized Fiber Optics Reflectance
Spectroscopy (FORS) system whose features are well
described elsewhere . Spectra have been acquired with
the following parameters: integration time: 5 sec; scans to
average: 4; boxcar width: 5. The Ocean Optics integrating
sphere ISP-R has been used to acquire the spectra on the
same areas as for the pXRF analysis on the Kiss of Judas mural
painting. The FORS spectra were compared with those
in a database of pigments laid with the fresco technique
. Unfortunately, the reference FORS spectra of emerald
green and chrome yellow - pigments identified by pXRF -
are not available and the FORS identification could not be
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Two of the four murals were examined, the Kiss of Judas
and the Flagellation. Table 1 shows the list of areas examined
with pXRF. The FORS system was applied on the same
areas but only on the Kiss of Judas. The presence of some
paint losses on the figures in both the two mural paintings
allowed for the direct pXRF analysis of the preparation layer
which provided the same conclusions about the support.
For example, area 8 in the Kiss of Judas, was shown to be
rich in calcium and sulfur. The calcium content is expected
and compatible with the fresco technique; however the elevated
presence of sulfur is likely due to on-going degradation
processes, both organic and inorganic, which lead to
the formation of sulfates in the superficial patina .
THE KISS OF JUDAS
Thirteen areas on this mural were selected for pXRF analysis,
Greens. In areas 1 and 2, the paint has been applied “a secco”
as evidenced by the numerous losses. The XRF spectra
indicate Cu and As as the two major elemental components
of the pigment. There are two arsenic-based green pigments:
Scheele’s green and Emerald green . The first is
ruled out because its color ranges from pale yellow-green to
deep green and it is known to darken over time. Scheele’s
30 ArcheomaticA International Special Issue
Cultural heritage Technologies 31
Fig. 6 - Areas analyzed by pXRF and FORS on The kiss of
Judas mural painting.
green, a copper arsenite of varying composition, was the
first synthetic green copper arsenic pigment (1778). Emerald
green, a copper acetoarsenite, is likely to be the pigment
used in this painting. It was introduced between 1800
and 1814, and it is no longer available as an artists’ pigment
because of its toxicity; it has a brilliant blue-green hue,
which matches the one observed in this mural painting.
The darker shade of green analyzed in area 6 is green earth
as suggested by the iron content. The corresponding FORS
spectra are flat and do not have characterizing features
useful for its identification. The brighter greens, represented
in areas 7 and 9, contain a considerable proportion
of lead, and therefore they should be a mix of green earth
and lead white, added to obtain the lighter hue. Lead white
is a problematic pigment for frescoes since it is known to
darken , however this problem occurs mostly on outdoor
Yellows. On the bottom border of the mural, area 3 is shown
to have been retouched with 19th century chrome yellow
. This is a relatively inexpensive yellow pigment with
high covering power, which was in use (along with the other
chrome pigments) by 1816 but on a limited basis.
Scene Area # Color Major Elements Minor Elements Pigments
Judas 1 light blue Cu, As, Ca, S K, Fe, Sr emerald green
2 light blue Cu, As, Ca, S K, Fe, Sr emerald green
3 yellow Cr, Fe, Pb, S Ca, Sr, K chrome yellow
4 brown Fe, Pb, Ca, S Si, K, Sr earth based
5 white Ca, S, Pb Fe, Sr calcite / gypsum / lead white
6 dark green Fe, Pb, Ca, S Mn, Si, K, Sr green earth / umber
7 green Pb, Ca, Fe, S, Sr, Si green earth / lead white
8 white Ca, S, Sr Pb, Fe, gypsum
9 light green Pb, Ca, Mn, Fe, Si, K, Sr green earth / umber
10 red Hg, Pb, S Fe, Ca, Sr vermilion / lead white / ochre
11 red Fe, Ca, Hg, Pb, S, Sr red ochre / vermilion
12 blue Pb, S, Ca, Fe, lead white / ?
13 blue Pb, As, S, Ca, Fe, lead white / ?
Painting Area # Color Major Elements Minor Elements Pigments
lagellation 1 red Fe Ca, Hg, Pb, S red ochre / vermilion
2 red Fe Ca, Hg, Pb, S red ochre / vermilion
3 tan Pb lead white
4 light blue Cu, As, Ca, S K, Fe, Sr emerald green
5 tan/white Pb lead white
6 brown Pb, Ca, Fe lead white with earth
7 brown Pb, Ca, Fe lead white with earth
8 white Ca, S, Pb Sr calcite / gypsum / lead white
9 tan/white Pb lead white
10 tan/white Pb lead white
11 tan/white Pb lead white
13 green Fe Ca, Pb, K green earth / lead white
14 light blue Cu, As, Ca, S K, Fe, Sr emerald green
15 green Pb, Fe, Ca, Cr, Sr green earth / veridian
16 green Fe, Ca, Pb Cr, Sr, K green earth / veridian
Table 1 - Summary of pXRF data for the two mural paintings analyzed.
Because the pigment tends to oxidize and darken on exposure
to air over time, and it contains lead, a toxic, heavy
metal, it has been largely replaced by cadmium yellow in
today’s market. This chrome yellow paint appears to have
been applied over an older and original yellow layer of
paint, which analyzed in area 4, confirmed a more typical
yellow earth (yellow ochre or umber). The FORS spectrum
shows the characteristic S- shape and the presence of two
broad absorption bands near 660 nm and 930 nm, which are
attributed to goethite, confirming the identification of yellow
ochre, figure 7.
Fig. 7 - FORS spectra of areas 4 and 11 on the Kiss of Judas mural
painting. Dotted lines are the reference spectra of corresponding
pigments applied on fresco.
Whites. A thin layer of lead white, analyzed in area 5, has
been used to whitewash the original caption. However,
most of it has disappeared and the original caption is almost
Reds. As shown by the IR image, figure 8, a red pigment
used for Jesus’ vest strongly reflects IR, which rules out the
use of red earth pigment. Complementary to this information,
the pXRF spectrum shows that the pigment is rich in
mercury, (areas 10 and 11) confirming the use of vermilion.
This identification is supported also by the FORS spectrum
of area 10, figure 7.
Blue. The blue pigment for Jesus’ mantle absorbs the infrared
and turns a reddish/purple color in the IRFC, figure 8.
Two areas (12 and 13) were selected on the mantle for pXRF
analysis and lead was the only element shown to have a significant
contribution to the spectra. The FORS spectra are
flat and do not help in the identification. The lead content
observed in the pXRF spectrum likely belongs to lead white
used to brighten the blue pigment. Since the spectrum presents
no other major peaks, it stands to reason that the blue
pigments based on metal elements (azurite (Cu), Prussian
blue (Fe), Cobalt blue and smalt (Co)) are not present in
the areas studied. In this case, we may rule out some blue
pigments, however, a blue pigment identification cannot be
positively confirmed using only the techniques employed in
this preliminary study, since also the FORS spectrum had not
Fig. 8 - The kiss of Judas mural painting. Visible (left) Infrared
(middle) and infrared false color (right) images. The red pigment of
Jesus’ vest strongly reflects infrared, and appears yellow in the IRFC,
suggesting vermilion. A cleaning test, visible in the middle of the
scene (see dashed line), was administered in order to evaluate both
the texture and the state of conservation of the frescoes.
Whites. Lead white was used for the pavement, confirmed
in the analysis of areas 3, 5, 6, and 7. Lead white was also
mixed with ochre on the drape, evidenced in the spectra
from areas 9, 10, and 11, which show an elemental content
composed mainly of Fe and Pb.
Sixteen areas on the painting The Flagellation were selected
for pXRF analysis, figure 9. The multispectral imaging is
shown in figure 10.
Reds. The pXRF spectra of areas 1 and 2 show a large content
of mercury, which together with the high infrared reflectance,
confirm the pigment vermilion.
Fig. 9 - Areas analyzed by pXRF on the Flagellation mural painting.
32 ArcheomaticA International Special Issue
Cultural heritage Technologies 33
Fig. 11 - Flagellation, area where a cleaning test was performed,
framed by the dotted white line. UV fluorescence is evident on the
Fig. 12 - The Flagellation. A secco retouches exhibit strong UV
Fig. 10 - The Flagellation mural painting. Visible (left) and details:
visible (top left), infrared (top right), infrared false color (bottom
left) and UV fluorescence (bottom right).
Greens. The same arsenic-based Emerald green is found in
the bluish-green band on the border, analyzed in areas 4
and 14. Green earth is found on the lower green decoration,
area 13, and on the pedestal, areas 15 and 16, also with
some viridian, as indicated by the chrome content. Pannetier,
a color maker in Paris began to make chromium green
in 1838 and viridian soon replaced the toxic Emerald Green.
An interesting note was that in all of the spectra, except
those of the light blue areas, there was an abundance of
lead, indicating the extensive use of lead white throughout
the paintings. The light green areas showed a high concentration
of both copper and arsenic in the ratio of 1:1, in accordance
with the composition of the pigment emerald green.
We can tell by the close observation of Jesus’ right hand,
that the underdrawing was probably performed by tracing
the outline of the figures using a dark brown pigment and thin
paintbrush, figure 11.
The ultraviolet radiation excites the organic molecules present
on the surface of the artwork, producing a pale fluorescence
and revealing the presence or the alteration of organic
components present on the surface. In this way, it is possible
to locate and assess the presence of a biological colonization
(some bacteria have their own peculiar fluorescence), of retouches
made by the artists themselves, of particular organic
colorants, or previous restoration compounds.
In the fresco technique, the principal paint binder used to
fix the pigments to the substrate is slaked lime. Once the
fresco is dry, the artist is able to make final retouches and
details using the tempera technique (egg yolk and/or milk).
While calcite doesn’t emit fluorescence under UV light, the
paint bound by tempera does. In figure 11 and 12, tempera
retouchings on the dresses and on details of the faces, the
floor tiles and hands are indicated by their UV fluorescence.
The mural paintings are made “a fresco” in wet plaster with
“a secco” (dry) finishing touches, as was common in the 18th
century. This process allowed the artist better management
of the retouching and working times. However, it also has
the disadvantage of the end result being more delicate than
the traditional “buonfresco” technique. It was also shown
that the mural paintings have been carried out using the
same palette of typical earth based fresco pigments, which
has been documented in contemporary frescoes from the
same school of artists operating in Sicily . Vermilion was
found on both of the two murals. This is a relatively expensive
pigment for murals where red ochre would instead be
more commonly used. Viridian is the only modern pigment
found on the figures. More extensive interventions with 19th
century pigments (emerald green and chrome yellow) were
found only on the bottom frame which is clearly subject
to more aggressive degradation caused by capillary rise of
water. The investigation allowed to identify some of the
restorations performed before the damaged walls of the
chapel were eventually enclosed during the 20th century
remodeling which obliterated the memory of the frescoes
to the community until their recent rediscovery.
This work was supported by the National Science Foundation
under IGERT Award #DGE-0966375, “Training, Research and
Education in Engineering for Cultural Heritage Diagnostics.”
Additional support was provided by the Qualcomm Institute
at UC San Diego, the Friends of CISA3 and the World Cultural
Heritage Society. Opinions, findings, and conclusions from
this study are those of the authors and do not necessarily
reflect the opinions of the research sponsors.
Aci Sant’Antonio is the hometown and residence of Antonino
Cosentino, who works as a cultural heritage scientist providing
consulting and training as a private service. He offered
to volunteer his time and equipment in order to provide
scientific support to the ongoing restoration project, and
the architect in charge of the restoration of the chapel,
Raffaello di Mauro, accepted. Dr. Cosentino also was able to
involve Camilla Perondi, a student in Technology for Cultural
Heritage at University of Bologna; and Samantha Stout,
a PhD student in Materials Science and Engineering at the
University of California, San Diego.
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 D.C. Creagh, D.A. Bradley “Radiation in Art and Archeometry” Elsevier, pp 40–55, 2000.
 J. W. Mayer “The Science of Paintings” Springer-Verlag New York, Inc., pp 125–127, 2000.
 J. R. J. van Asperen de Boer “Reflectography of Paintings Using an Infrared Vidicon Television System” Studies in Conservation,
Vol. 14, No. 3, pp 96–118, 1969.
 C. M. Falco “High-resolution infrared imaging” SPIE Optics + Photonics Conference, San Diego, 2010.
 S. Ridolfi “Portable X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometry for the analyses of Cultural Heritage” IOP Conference Series:
Materials Science and Engineering XTACH 11, 37, 2012.
 N. Vornicu, C. Bibire, E. Murariu, and D. Ivanov “Analysis of mural paintings using in situ non-invasive XRF, FTIR spectroscopy
and optical microscopy” X-ray Spectrometry, 2013.
 M. K. Donais, D. George, B. Duncan, S. M. Wojtas, A. M. Daigle “Evaluation of data processing and analysis approaches
by portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometry and portable Raman spectroscopy” Analytical Methods vol 3 no. 5, 1017-1014,
Questo lavoro presenta per la prima volta la scoperta di una serie
di affreschi effettuata nel 2012 durante il restauro della
cappella del crocifisso nella chiesa madre di Aci Sant’Antonio,
Sicilia. Le pitture murali si sono conservate in ognuno degli angoli
della cappella quadrata dietro le contropareti aggiunte all’inizio
del XX secolo. In questo articolo si mostra anche l’applicazione
combinata dell’imaging multispettrale (MSI), della spettroscopia
di fluorescenza X portatile (pXRF) e della FORS per l’identificazione
dei pigmenti su queste pitture murali da poco scoperte.
Dopo una ricerca d’archivio, e’ stata ritrovata la documentazione
degli interventi che hanno portato alla copertura degli affreschi.
Dal momento che siamo al corrente dell’anno in cui gli ultimi
interventi sugli affreschi possono essere stati eseguiti, questi murali
rappresentano un interessante caso di cronologia “terminus
ante quem” (TAQ), in particolare per quel che riguarda l’uso
bronze objects; corrosion; SEM; XRF; XRD;
Conservation Scientist, Blogger at Cultural Heritage
Science Open Source chsopensource.org
Doctoral student in Materials Science
Center of Interdisciplinary Science for Art, Architecture
and Archaeology (CISA3), University of California,
Raffaello di Mauro
Studente Conservation Scientist
I migliori emergono
tel. +39 02 4830.2175
Rilievo di strutture
sommerse ed emerse
Studio dei fondali
e delle coste
Tecnologie per le Scienze della Terra
Multibeam, SSS, SBP,
Laser Scanner, Georadar.
Anche a noleggio.
34 ArcheomaticA International Special Issue
Cultural heritage Technologies 35
Save the Syrian Heritage:
technologies to document Palmyra
and endangered world heritage
Interview to Yves Ubelmann, Iconem's CEO
By Redazione Archeomatica
Fig. 1 - Yves Ubelmann and Philippe Barthélémy
Iconem is a French start-up created in 2013 by Yves
Ubelmann, an architect specialized in archaeology,
and Philippe Barthélémy, an aeroplane and helicopter
pilot. The company is involved into the documentation
of major archaeological sites in the middle-east. The
Iconem's team is composed by architects, engineers and
graphic artists which are specialized in 3D production.
The french start-up has made a name for itself by taking
on unprecedented technological challenges, including
the complete modelling of Pompeii as well as scanning
archaeological sites in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Haiti.
All of these plans will soon be available for the general
public online on a special platform which will constitute
a unique virtual archaeological encyclopaedia.
Using the latest technologies and procedures, drone photography
and photogrammetry, Iconem works to preserve
unique archaeological heritage sites worldwide, with the
aim of keeping their memory alive for future generations.
Recently, Iconem has been working with the DGAM (Direction
Générale des Antiquités et des Musées – the Syrian
Directorate- General of Antiquities and Museums) to digitally
reconstruct Palmyra as part of “Syrian Heritage”
Fig. 2 - Theater of Palmyra_IconemDGAM.
36 ArcheomaticA International Special Issue
Cultural heritage Technologies 37
Fig. 3 - Citadel of Palmyra.
project. The project intended to create an extensive database
of 3D archaeological information on threatened
Syrian heritage sites. Just a few days after the liberation
of Palmyra, Iconem visited the devastated ancient city to
carry out the first 3D survey of the damages.
Iconem realized survey to produce 3D models of the site
in order to help scientists from all over the world to study
and understand the ancient city damages. Iconem has
already produced an initial 3D model of the temple of Bel
which shows the damage suffered by the building, available
online on Sketchfab.com.
We asked Yves Ubelmann, Iconem's CEO, few questions
about the Palmyra project.
A - How did the project come about? Why did you
choose to focus on that region?
When the conflict in Syria started, foreign archaeological
missions had to leave the country. I was really sad to see
syrian archaeologists left behind. They operate with very
limited resources, trying to protect heritage sites from
destruction. As an architect specialized in archaeology,
I have been working in the Middle East for quite a long
time and I tightened close relationships with the Syrian
Directorate-General of Antiquities & Museums (DGAM).
Thus I really felt the necessity to bring all the support
and expertise I could. Iconem proposes a very efficient
tool to save the memory of archaeological sites through
3D scanning. We use a process called photogrammetry,
where thousands of pictures are taken and then processed
by computers to create 3D model of an archaeological
Y.U. - It was simply natural for us to share this technology
with syrian archaeologists. In 2014, we launched a first
project with the DGAM, helping archaeologists to digitalize
the “Krak des Chevaliers” (a massive citadel on the
UNESCO World Heritage list) which had been damaged by
war. Since fights were ongoing, we helped DGAM from Paris,
and provided them with instructions about the photo
shooting protocol. DGAM members sent us the pictures
through web servers and we start to process them using
our algorithms. After this first step, Iconem's team went
to Syria in December 2015 to extend the project. The
Fig. 4 - Citadel of Palmyra, comparison from January 2009 and April 2016.
Fig. 5 - 3D Model of the Citadel of Palmyra on Sketchfab.
“Syrian Heritage” project was born. We could provide a
more thorough training to our DGAM counterparts. We
were able to digitalize 11 sites. Their memories are now
saved forever. If they are damaged or destroyed, our tool
will make restorations easier, and will make sure their
knowledge is not reduced to ashes.
A - We all know about the Million Images Database, for
example, as well as New Palmyra, and a few more digital
archaeological projects. Could you tell us why Syrian
Heritage is such a unique project?
Y.U. - It is great to see all these initiatives, people working
hard to preserve sites under threat of disappearance. To
protect archaeology in this part of the world, there must
be as many organizations as possible working towards this
common goal. It is also important to see a wide array of
different approaches, all characterized by their own features.
Now, if we have to differentiate “Syrian Heritage”
from other initiatives, I would say that "New Palmyra"
and “Million Images Database” are “remotely supervised”
programs, while we are present on the spot, in Syria.
Besides asking general public to collaborate and provide
images, we are present on the ground among archaeologists.
Our experience taught us that results are often
better when the mission is achieved by a small number of
very well trained and equipped professionals, rather than
by a large number of contributors, who may not have the
same level of equipment and expertise. One single person
during the fieldwork can accomplish true miracles –
capturing a wide area in a record time - when equipped
with the right tools. We are also blessed with our own
proprietary technology, which is a result of a partnership
with a large French research center INRIA. This strategic
partnership provides us a technological advance in the
field of “image based modeling”.
A - Nowadays, in this threatening climate for cultural
heritage and world monuments, which is the role of
digital archaeology? And which are the limit of these
Y.U. The unquestionable strength of digital archaeology is
its capability to save the knowledge and memory of an archaeological
site. This ensure an unvaluable tool for researchers,
historians and archeologists, and beyond them,
for the general public. It is also a great way to make sure
that their memory will be passed on from generation to
generation. Modern tools such as drones dramatically reduces
the time allowed to fieldwork and make us capable
to capture various scales of a site simultaneously, while
our brand new computer provide incredibly precise resolutions,
often accurate to the millimeter. Digital archaeology
has recently made light-year jumps and is about
to make new ones in the coming years. However, digital
archaeology cant accomplish miracles. If a scanned
monument that is reduced to, its digitalization may not
be enough to reconstruct it. Indeed, a digitalization only
captures the “outer envelope” of the monument, and not
the inner materials’ composition. Again, technologies are
continuously improving, and I am sure groundbreaking
and disruptive advances await us!
For further information about ICONEM visit: www.iconem.com
An interview to ICONEM on the role of digital technologies used to preserve
endangered cultural heritage, with a particular eye on syrian cultural heritage.
Still at the moment the French start-up is working directly on the field to
preserve monuments from destructive madness of the war. In order to pursue
its goals, ICONEM has gained profitable relations with Directorate General of
Antiquities Museum (DGAM), which provide them all the necessary support on
Digital archaeology, documentation, heritage in danger, drones,
Credits images: ICONEM/DGAM
38 ArcheomaticA International Special Issue
Cultural heritage Technologies 39
and for more information
UNESCO HERITAGE EMERGENCY FUND
In armed conflict or natural disaster situations, culture is particularly at risk, owing
to its inherent vulnerability and tremendous symbolic value. UNESCO works with
the international community to protect culture and harness its power as a positive
force to prevent conflicts and facilitate peace-building and recovery, as well as its
potential to reduce negative impacts on lives, property, and livelihoods in case of a
The Heritage Emergency Fund is a multi-donor fund for the protection of heritage
in emergency situations. It was created by UNESCO to finance activities and
projects that enable the Organization to assist its Member States in protecting
natural and cultural heritage from disasters and conflicts by more effectively
preparing for and responding to emergencies.
“Everybody’s cooperation is vital.
There is no limit to what we can do
when we stand together to defend heritage
and protect our shared history.
The stakes are high -- but we can act,
as we have in the past.”
Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO
Front: Umayyad Mosque, Aleppo, Syria (2013) © UNESCO
Back: Debris from a collapsed temple in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bhaktapur, Nepal (2015) © Omad Havana, Getty Images
VIRTUAL ARCHAEOLOGICAL ENVIRONMENTS
GENERATED IN AVAYALIVE ENGAGE
A. Joe Rigby, Mark Melaney and Ken Rigby
MellaniuM is leveraging AVAYALIVE ENGAGE to be capable of developing immersive virtual environments by importing
all 3D file formats with photorealistic textures generated both by photogrammetry and laser scanned items and
monuments for archaeological and educational use.
Archaeology would be well served by a software application
that could faithfully render interpretations
of reproductions of buildings, artefacts and photorealistic
art and import them into a multi-participant environment.
Published literature extols the potential value
of creating virtual spaces containing archaeological experiences
for educational and /or archival purposes and even
the publishing of the results of novel future excavations.
Indeed, it would have to be admitted that reading, studying
maps and schematic drawings about such monumentally
extensive cities as Rome in 130 AD could not be compared
to being able to walk around the city in a virtual reproduction.
In fact the entire city of Rome was modelled in plaster
in minute detail during the years 1937 to 1972 which by any
stretch of the imagination was a monumental task but still
falls short of giving the feeling of “being there”
Now it is time to seriously consider the modern day possibility
of using the existing 3D virtual platforms available to
generate interpretations of the major constructs of the ancient
civilizations. There have been papers published comparing
the relative merits of these platforms and their capability
of rendering with sufficient fidelity the architectural
detail and photorealism necessary to produce an acceptable
environment. These publications have indicated that
the UNREAL gaming engine does have some attributes which
could potentially fulfill some of the requirements of a platform
worthy to create 3D virtual spaces within which up to
32 individuals could simultaneously experience high resolution
objects and photorealistic art reproduction. In fact the
UNREAL 2.5 variant has improved shading, light sourcing,
high resolution pixel texturing and 2D graphics capability.
Architectural applications have also been around for many
years, finding in game editing a way to quickly visualize
real estate developments and prospective designs with a
low cost pre-construction interactive space. A number of
projects have used the Unreal Engine for other architectural
scenarios to: promote estate buildings and educational
research 1-4 ; exhibit a protected natural park and help raise
environmental awareness 5. Researchers at the University of
Auckland, New Zealand, use the Torque 6 game engine to
create a Collaborative Virtual Environment (CVE) to support
architectural education. Through the CVE users can interact
and share data in a common environment and concurrently
explore shared architectural projects.
The AERIA project (2003) attempted to create archaeological
reconstructions without the use of expensive CAD software.
The authors 7-9 used the Quake 2, HalfLife and Morrowind
engines to reconstruct the palace of Nestor in Pylos
and the throne of Apollo, respectively. They recognize that
game engines have come ‘of age’ and offer a low cost but
powerful tool for heritage visualisation
Jeffrey Jacobson 10 has created a set of modifications for the
Unreal engine that allows visualisation in a customised CAVE
environment incorporating multi-screen displays. These customisations
make the creation of a low-cost CAVE possible
thus enabling VR applications that would require an immersive
setting to also use the extensive features of a game
Maria Sifniotis 11 has compiled an excellent summary of the
game engines and their strengths and weaknesses.
The key to effective virtual realism, especially for fields
like archaeology, is the creation of an environment so well
conceived interpretively that the user becomes emotionally
involved in the content of the simulation. Users obviously
desire to experience a design that has been created in
terms of lighting effects, finishes, surface textures, layout
and construction details which will lend itself to a complete
suspension of disbelief .12
THE UTILIZATION OF THE AVAYALIVE ENGAGE
IN THE ARCHEOLOGICAL FIELD
The Unreal engine has been promoted in the past as a complete
solution for the accurate rendering of architectural and
archaeological reconstructions. However until the advent of
the UNREAL engine version 2.5 and the wide acceptance of
hardware 3D graphical acceleration video cards and DIRECTX
8.0 it was highly impractical to produce virtual buildings and
accessory items with high polygon static meshes and photorealistic
textures and 2D graphics which were not subject to
debilitating pixellation on close inspection.
40 ArcheomaticA International Special Issue
Cultural heritage Technologies 41
In effect since Unreal can handle up to 60,000
polygons in one modelled item and there is an
indefinite limit to the size of the assembled
unit even with a fully textured and lit surface
the engine can therefore handle enormous
spaces suitable for generating immersive archaeological
Fig. 1 - Entrance to the Temple of Horus at Edfu.
The UNREAL engine provides “a complete robust solution
that has withstood the tough test of time of real-world game
development”. The UnrealEd level editor is integrated with
the rendering engine and along with the extensible C++
core, its powerful UnrealScript high-level scripting interface,
visual editing of avatars and surface textures with the
virtual world. In combination with MellaniuM’s adaptation
of a “bridge between CAD and Unreal” using high polygon
modelling in addition to the use of the application of scaled
high resolution textures the stage is now set for inclusive,
world building package that matches the more expensive
and sophisticated CAD software.
As mentioned already one of the Unreal engine’s most potent
features is the integration with the UnrealEd level editor.
UnrealEd is a realtime design tool, optimized for building
real-time 3D environments. It is fully integrated with
Unreal’s rendering engine, offering a WYSIWYG camera view
and immediate display of all lighting, texture placement
and geometry operations. UnrealEd also offers single-click
playability: even in the midst of the design process, the designer
can launch the viewer and walk around their created
environment in real-time.
After the creation of the 3D models photo-realistic textures
up to 2048x2048 pixels in size can be applied to surfaces to
enhance the perceived detail of the object. This capability
combined with detailed textured mapping allows for detailed
effects of decorated walls and objects such as trees.
Fig. 2 - Inner Courtyard at the door to the Hypostyle Hall.
AVAYALIVE ENGAGE VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENT
One of the obvious potential applications for
AVAYALIVE ENGAGE 13 is not only as an advanced
presentational tool for archaeology in
education, but also as a archival tool for any
new excavations. AVAYALIVE ENGAGE is an
online, immersive collaboration environment
that lets you communicate with others as
though you were face to-face. AVAYALIVE EN-
GAGE runs on the UNREAL 2.5 gaming engine
and is embedded as a browser plug-in that
integrates with your local network, security
and business software tools. Knowledge flows freely-from
instructor to students, peer to peer, coach to team-all while
presentations and materials display. MellaniuM is leveraging
this 3D virtual environment platform to be capable of both
importing all 3D file formats with photorealistic textures generated
both by photogrammetry and laser scanned items
and monuments for engineering, archaeological and educational
Jeffrey Jacobson has been working for several years on VR
applications using the extensive features of the UNREAL
game engine. His thesis and an UNREAL environment of the
Temple of Horus, now being used in the Carnegie-Mellon
museum, is available on the PublicVR website.
However it has to be accepted that the key to effective
virtual realism, especially for fields like archaeology, is the
creation of an environment so well conceived interpretively
that the user becomes emotionally involved in the content
of the simulation. Users obviously desire to experience a
design that has been created in terms of lighting effects,
finishes, surface textures, layout and construction details
which will lend itself to a complete suspension of disbelief.
The MellaniuM application allows for the importation of high
polygon models and rich textures that are being used now in
the Temple of Horus complex to create the realism necessary
for a true reduction of cognitive friction and the subtle
transcendence to a believable immersion.
In addition comprehensive descriptive metadata relating to
the original source, age, design and existing
knowledge on associated artifacts can be connected
effectively to any 3D item in the environment.
By introducing small unobtrusive
portal icons within the 3D models, which can
be approached on the screen the participant
will automatically be directed to URL or local
links (web pages and movies) with pertinent
information to the item. This type of semantic
interactivity is vital to produce an environment
that will encompass both a truly informative
and a sensory experience resulting
in an academically accurate and effective
It is entirely possible with one URL web link
click to enter along with up to 50 others to explore
and learn about the fascinating details
of the Temple Complex. For a demonstration
of the Temple of Horus go to http://wa692.
Existing models of extensive high polygon
models developed in 3D STUDIO MAX or
generated by photogrammetry or 3D laser
scanning. can be readily modified and imported
into the AVAYALIVE ENGAGE platform
using the MellaniuM application to generate
dimensionally scaled and high resolution
textured environments. These environments
are interactive and up to 32 participants can
enter the virtual archaeological spaces by a
simple click of one URL address. The ability
to create immersive, interactive virtual environments
coupled with the technology to
present and collaborate from anywhere on
the Internet affords the MellaniuM application
significant potential as an educational
and archival tool.
Fig. 3 - Inside the Throne Room of the Temple of Horus.
1) Business Week: Unreal Architecture http://www.businessweek.
2) Miliano, V. (1999), ‘Unrealty: Application of a 3D Game Engine to Enhance
the Design, Visualisation and Presentation of Commercial Real
Estate’, Proceedings of VSMM’99 5th International Conference on
Virtual Systems and Multimedia, Dundee, Scotland, U.K, September
3) Calef, C., Vilbrandt ,C., Goodwin, J., (2002), ‘Making it Realtime: Exploring
the Use of Optimized Realtime Environments for Historical Simulation
and Education’, Proceedings of the International Conference
on Museums and the Web, Bearman, D. (ed.)
4) Ancient Architecture in Virtual Reality “Does Visual Immersion Really
Aid Learning?” Jeffrey Jacobson, PhD University of Pittsburgh, 2008
5) DeLeon, V. and Berry, R. (1998), ‘Virtual Florida Everglades’, Proceedings
of VSMM Virtual Systems and Multimedia
6) 6.. Champion, E. (2002). ‘Cultural Engagement in Virtual Heritage Environments
with Inbuilt Interactive Evaluation Mechanisms’, Proceedings
7) Anderson, M. (2003), ‘Computer Games and Archaeological Reconstruction:
The low cost VR ,Proceedings of CAA Computer Applications
8) Moloney, J. and Amor, R. (2003), ‘StringCVE: Advances in a Game Engine-based
Collaborative Virtual Environment for Architectural Design’,
Proceedings of CONVR 2003 Conference on Construction Applications
of Virtual Reality, Blacksburg, USA, September
9) Meister, M. and Boss, M. (2003), ‘On Using State of the Art Computer
Games Engines to Visualize Archaeological Structures in Interactive
Teaching and Research’, Proceedings of CAA Computer Applications
10) Jacobson, J. and Lewis, M. (2005), ‘Game Engine Virtual Reality with
CAVEUT’, Computer, Vol. 38, pp. 79-82
11) 3D Visa Bulletin, Sept 2007 Featured 3D Method: 3D Visualisation
using Game Platforms Maria Sifniotis University of Sussex, UK http://
12) “Issues involved in Real-Time Rendering of Virtual Environments” Priya
Malhotra Thesis for the requirement of a Master of Science in Architecture
July19, 2002, College of Architecture and Urban Studies
13) “Accuracy in Virtual Worlds: Interactive 3D Modelling of Refractory
Linings of Copper Smelters” Rigby A.J., Rigby.K. and Melaney M., IEEE
Internet Computing Sept/Oct 2011
Realistically rendered and textured virtual spaces can be created in the AVAYA-
LIVE ENGAGE platform by importing high polygon models and scaled accurately
reproduced textures. In addition MellaniuM has successfully developed an application
for utilizing all the archaeological virtual assets developed in 3D Studio
Max or generated over the past several years using photogrammetry and laser
scanning. It is possible therefore to create interactive environments of archaeological
significance that can be accessed through the Internet and available to
up to 40 participants.
Interactive; AVAYALIVE ENGAGE; virtual reconstruction; Temple of Horus;
CAD modeling; game engine; photogrammetry; 3D laser scanning
A. Joe Rigby
MellaniuM Ltd, Preston, Lancashire, UK PR3 3BN
42 ArcheomaticA International Special Issue
Cultural heritage Technologies 43
MISURE FINO A 60°
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COMPANIES AND PRODUCTS
NEW TRIMBLE R12 RECEIVER BOOSTS SURVEYING PERFORMANCE
Timble introduced the TrimbleR12 GNSS receiver, a high-performance
Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) surveying
solution. Powered by an all new Real Time Kinematic (RTK)
and Trimble RTXpositioning engine, it features ground-breaking
Trimble ProPointTMGNSS technology that empowers land surveyors
to quickly measure more points in more places than ever
before. Surveyors who work in challenging GNSS environments
can use the Trimble R12 receiver to help reduce both the time
in the field and the need for conventional techniques such as
using a total station.The new state-of-the-art Trimble ProPoint
GNSS technology allows for flexible signal management, which
helps mitigate the effects of signal degradation and provides a
GNSS constellation-agnostic operation. In head-to-head testing
with the Trimble R10-2 in challenging GNSS environments such
as near and among trees, and built environments, the Trimble
R12 receiver performed more than 30 percent better across a
variety of factors, including time to achieve survey precision
levels, position accuracy and measurement reliability."As a
leader in the field of GNSS technology and innovation, Trimble
dedicated many years of intensive research into developing the
Trimble R12," said Ronald Bisio, senior vice president of Trimble
Geospatial. "This has culminated in a first-class solution,
which enables our users toextend the reach of their systems
to places where other RTK GNSS systems experience degraded
performance."AvailabilityThe Trimble R12 GNSS receiver is available
now through Trimble's Geospatial distribution channel. For
more information, visit:https://trimble.com/R12.About Trimble
GeospatialTrimble Geospatial provides solutions that facilitate
high-quality, productive workflows and information exchange,
driving value for a global and diverse customer base of surveyors,
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For more information, visit:https://geospatial.trimble.com.
About TrimbleTrimble is transforming the way the world works
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as agriculture, construction, geospatialand transportation and
For more information about Trimble, visit: www.trimble.com.
D-SITE - DRONES -
SYSTEMS OF INFOR-
MATION ON CUL-
D-SITE is the first International
the use of drones in
the field of Cultural
Heritage. It is directed
working in the
field of UAVs production and in the use of drones for Heritage documentation
and for experts that work in this field, finalizing innovative
documentation services that integrate and complete the existing
In the last few years, the use of UAVs is becoming increasingly important
in many areas related to the science of architectural survey, topography,
engineering and architecture. Used for monitoring and surveying,
drones are an opportunity for the development of increasingly
effective systems for the documentation.
The event aims to provide a framework of the State of Art of this
phenomenon, laying the foundations for the development of innovative
systems of analysis and growth of innovative methodologies with
a multidisciplinary nature.
The use of UAVs is increasingly widespread in activities related to Heritage
documentation. In recent years the development of methodologies
of data integration, obtained through surveys that exploit drones
to reach privileged observation points, has been witnessed by the
numerous computation platforms, software and tools, that populate
the exchange. The definition of increasingly reliable methodologies
and procedures of close-range photogrammetry has produced considerable
results in the survey of Architectural Heritage. Nowadays,
several Universities and Research Centers, together with enterprises,
are working to optimize documentation services whose goal is, in any
case, the representativeness of technical data aimed at the project
Parallel to aerial documentation, even the application of remote
controlled terrestrial drone systems is renewing the inspection and
survey practices in architecture and on territory, overtaking barriers
and access dimensions to sites and contexts in emergency otherwise
impractical for human operators. Surface rovers and submarine robotics,
equipped with controlled cameras and implemented survey devices,
in terms of stability and compartment, contribute to complete
an extremely scientific and innovative field, where the central theme
of robotics applied to Cultural Heritage documentation is expanded
and consolidated in correspondence to the international categories
of UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems), USV (Unmanned Surface Vehicles)
and UUV (Unmanned Underwater Vehicles).
Drones, in the wider terms of their definition, are now used for documentation,
management, protection, maintenance, and monitoring,
integrating imaging systems or measuring instruments that contribute
to define three-dimensional databases on Cultural Heritage. This conference
is promoted with the aim of collecting recent experiences on
that topic and of providing a moment of reflection between academic
and enterprise realities for the promotion of updated frameworks for
the development of research in the architectural survey field.
The event will consist of three days, 17-18-19 June 2021, and it will be
organized through training workshops, exhibition-stands of the main
companies operating in the field of drone production and connected
survey systems that will be able to realize demonstrations and illustrate
the latest news in this field. These events will then be joined by
interventions describing research activities and documentation projects
conducted through the use of drones.
The Conference will be held on 18 and 19 of June, with guest speakers
and participants from organizations and national and international
research institutes that will describe the specific research activities in
the different conference sessions.
44 ArcheomaticA International Special Issue
Cultural heritage Technologies 45
Cultural Tecnologie heritage per i Beni Technologies Culturali 45
ARCHAEOLOGICAL ATLAS OF COPTIC LITERATURE -
DATA AND DOCUMENTATION PORTAL
The Archaeological Atlas of Coptic Literature that is the main scientific
outcome of the ERC funded PAThs project has recently implemented
new features and developed new tools freely usable by
the scholarly community (respecting the copyright license).
Consequently, an updated and mature version of the Data and Documentation
portal of the project has been published, being available
at https://atlas.paths-erc.eu. It includes a thorough and detailed
description of all the sections (Manuscripts - including Inks
and Bindings -, Colophons, Places, etc.) of the PAThs database (i.e.
the User's handbook: https://docs.paths-erc.eu/handbook/) and
the full technical structure of it (i.e. the DB Structure: https://
A separate section is dedicated to the publication of dataset created
by the PAThs team (https://docs.paths-erc.eu/data/), completed
with detailed metadata, copyright and license references,
sources, previews, and technical instructions for data reuse.
Specific protocols developed to aid the data elaboration and production
are also published in a detailed form (https://docs.pathserc.eu/data/svp),
in order to facilitate the data re-use, in an effort
to provide useful tools to the community.
Demos and technical guidelines have been written to better illustrate
the published datasets.
It is particularly worth mentioning the drafting of a highly detailed
and rich geo-database dedicated to the archaeology and architecture
of the Christian religious buildings in Late Antique and Mediaeval
of_christian_architecture), distributed as a WMS service for general
use. The maps are distributed with CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license, which
means that use is free but the PAThs project must be acknowledged
and no commercial use is allowed.
At present, more than 150 Christian religious buildings have been
georeferenced and vectorized using the already mentioned open
protocol developed by PAThs.
The main and fundamental starting point of this work was the
monumental volume of Peter Grossmann, Christliche Architecture
in Ägypten (2001), whose maps, however, have been completely reelaborated.
Other sources (archaeological reports, first-hand data,
etc.) will be used in the near future so as to expand the repertory.
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Fig. 1 – © AFN archives. August 10, 1943. Sicily, Siracusa. German
Luftwaffe photo over the Great Harbour, taken one month after the
Allied landing, with analysis of the enemy’s naval forces.
[Italy’s National Archive
of Aerial Photography]
by Elizabeth J. Shepherd
Italian archives of aerial photographs
have rich and varied holdings, which
are a valuable source for the study
of the landscape and of cultural
heritage, especially in the vast parts
of the country that have been affected
by significant transformation in the
second half of the 20th century.
These archives are mostly military
(Istituto Geografico Militare www.
igmi.org and the Air Force historical
a single exception: the Aerofototeca
Nazionale (AFN) http://www.iccd.beniculturali.it/index.php?it/98/aerofototeca-nazionale,
the Italian national
archive of aerial photography, today
part of the Ministero dei Beni e delle
Attività Culturali e del Turismo (Ministry
of Cultural Heritage and Tourism
AFN holds 20th century
photographs over the
whole of Italy. It was
established in 1958 as a
branch of the Gabinetto
Lab & Archive) and,
since 1975, has been
part of the Istituto Centrale per il
Catalogo e la Documentazione (ICCD–
Central Institute for Catalogue and
Documentation), based in Rome. AFN
houses many collections produced
by public and private organizations.
Some of these have been purchased or
donated, while others are on loan to
AFN from military or civil institutions
which retain ownership. Aerial photographs
were produced by military bodies
(Italian Air Force, Istituto Geografico
Militare, Allied Forces during World
War II), public organizations (research
institutes, regional authorities) and
private companies, most of which are
no longer in existence. A few companies
which are still operating have
deposited their historical collections
with the AFN, together with copies of
recent flights, of which they hold the
AFN also holds unique imagery from
World War II, that are not duplicated
elsewhere, despite the large numbers
of photographs of Italy in UK and USA
archives. These include ‘post-strike’
photographs taken to help assess the
success of bombing raids. They highlight
the potential importance of this
imagery in helping to write history, recording
as they do events, alongside
ongoing processes and landscapes now
changed in many ways.
AFN also houses a large number of
maps drawn from aerial photographs,
most of them accessed through the
purchase of the EIRA collection (=
Ente Italiano Riprese Aeree) http://
aerofototecanazionale-iccd/ . There
are also a number of aerial cameras,
acquired with the Fotocielo collection,
and an exceptional array of aerial
equipment, part of the Aerofoto Consult
collection. They all illustrate the
history of aerial-photogrammetry in
Italy since World War II.
The large collection of aerial photographs
of Italy taken for military reconnaissance
purposes by the Allies
during the Italian campaign of 1943–
1945 are of course of extraordinary
historical interest. They were produced
by strategic photo-reconnaissance
units of the Royal Air Force (RAF)
and the United States Army Air Forces
(USAAF), part of the Mediterranean
Allied Photographic Reconnaissance
Wing (MAPRW). The sheer quantity of
these photographs (roughly 1 million)
and their historical significance make
this the most important collection of
aerial photographs in Italy. This material
includes unique imagery that is
not duplicated in the large holdings of
photographs of Italy held by NARA and
Just as large is the historical collection
of the Aeronautica Militare Italiana
(Italian Air Force) deposited in AFN
since its foundation. The initiative of
Gen. Domenico Ludovico was crucial
in this regard, since he arranged for
the transfer to the archive of a large
number of military photographs which
included areas of archaeological interest;
the collection was subsequently
enlarged with other photographs,
taken up to the 1970s. As well as Gen.
Ludovico, an important contribution
to the birth of AFN was made by archaeologist
Dinu Adamesteanu, who
was its first director, and Gen. Giulio
Schmiedt of the Istituto Geografico
Militare in Florence.
A photographic analyst of international
standing, Gen. Schmiedt spent
the whole of 1960 organizing the AFN
photographic collections into an accessible
archive. In establishing a system
that functions to this day (www.
Schmiedt sought to put into practice
the aims of the founders, which
were, in the words of Adamesteanu, to
“gather, coordinate and make available
to the archaeological authorities
all the aerial photographs in our possession
that may be useful in streamlining
surveys of the terrain”.
In the sixty years since its creation,
the fundamental task of AFN has been
to gather aerial photographs from all
46 ArcheomaticA International Special Issue
46 ArcheomaticA International Special Issue
Cultural heritage Technologies 47
available sources, provide for their
conservation, cataloguing and study,
thus making them available for a wide
range of research and survey purposes.
Over time this has become an irreplaceable
resource for both historical
research in various disciplines and regional
planning, providing fundamental
documentation for many of the
activities of regional organizations in
WWII aerial photos in AFN
During World War II reconnaissance
flights by RAF and USAAF proved decisive
to the advance and victory of
the Allied Forces; however in southern
Italy, immediately after the Allied
landing in Sicily in July 1943, there
were flights by the Regia Aeronautica
(Italian Royal Air Force) and the
German Luftwaffe. These flights are
today a powerful historical record of
the appearance of the country before
the great infrastructural works and urbanization
that, from the early 1950s,
have often deeply altered the Italian
(Italian Royal Air Force)
Since 1923 every Italian army corps
had a group for aerial observation,
assigned aircraft already in use during
WW I. In 1943 Guidonia (a military
airport near Rome) was chosen as
the base for the 310th Photographic
Recognition squadron, equipped with
panoramic cameras mounted on the
Macchi MC 205 aircraft.
German Luftwaffe (LW)
Some of the German photographic reconnaissance
flights were carried out
before the beginning of World War II,
and LW supplied Italy with various
kinds of aircraft, so that after four
years the Italian Air Force stood at
700 aircraft. War time reconnaissance
was carried out over Italy by both German
and Italian crews. AFN holds in
its archives about 100 images in a 30
× 30cm format, generally taken after
the landing in Sicily and covering various
strategic areas in Southern Italy,
such as harbours and airports. Aerial
coverage in the same format carried
out by the Regia Aeronautica with the
same equipment has also been acquired
British Royal Air Force (RAF)
Photographic reconnaissance by the
RAF over Italian
territory began as
early as September
southern Italy and
Sicily from Malta
and went on until
the end of hostilities.
on 10th November
1940 in advance of
the large-scale attack
on the Italian
Fleet the following
day – the Night of
Puglia to Rome at the end of World
War II and deposited nearly entirely
in the British School at Rome, from
where it was loaned to AFN in 1974.
MAPRW-RAF aerial photographs in the
AFN holdings cover the years 1943–44.
These missions generally maintained
high altitudes (c.27,000 feet) in order
to avoid flak and used a 24-inch
focal length camera (c.1:10,000)
and a 6-inch focal length camera
(c.1:50,000), generally carried by
Spitfires and Mosquitoes. The MAPRW-
RAF photographs are identifiable by
the squadron numbers (e.g. 680, 683
and 684) and are mostly of a 7 × 8
inch format. The makeshift airports of
the Tavoliere delle Puglie were used
in order to photograph the effects of
the earlier attacks, and these images
focus on those areas where the British
military missions were directed.
They are a unique and irreplaceable
document for the study of a historical
situation of the Italian territory in
a particular moment of its evolution,
before the great urban and agrarian
The majority of the images taken of
southern Italy and the larger islands
from North Africa appear to have been
taken to Britain after the war, though
some of the 1943 imagery in the AFN
will have been taken by Allied units
based in North Africa.
United States Army Air Force (USAAF)
USAAF started its strategic reconnaissance
in Italy during the spring of
1943 when the Allies began preparing
for the invasion of Sicily, following the
Trident Conference in Washington.
Fig. 3 - © AFN archives. May 4, 1944. Pontedera, near Pisa: the Allied
bombing of the Piaggio factory. MAPRW-RAF 683 Photographic Reconnaissance
Squadron aerial photo.
This imagery mostly covers north-east
Italy, complementing MAPRW-RAF coverage
which is concentrated in the
south. The USAAF produced square
prints at 9 × 9 inches with prefi xes in
the style of 23PS, 32S, 15SG, 5PRS and
12PRS indicating squadrons.
MAPRW-USAAF photos were donated
by the American Academy in Rome
to the AFN in March 1964, and are
arguably the most important part of
the collection as they fill large gaps
in the holdings of NARA and TARA of
photographs taken after air raids.
However, they are not as accessible as
might be desired, as they are stored in
their original boxes making consultation
difficult and conservation an absolute
priority (please note that AFN
is asking for financial contributions
in this regard: http://artbonus.gov.
More on the subject in http://www.
aerofototeca-nazionale and (also in
AFN; Italian archives; aerial photographs; historical
collections; cultural heritage;
Elizabeth J. Shepherd,
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Cultural heritage Technologies 49
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