Archeomatica International 2019

Quarterly Magazine, Volume X, Issue 4, Special Supplement

Quarterly Magazine, Volume X, Issue 4, Special Supplement


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Quarterly Magazine, Volume X




Cultural Heritage Technologies

i n t e r n a t i o n a l



Heritage Protection

Virtual Archaeology

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.

Francesca Salvemini

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

da Messina.

26 Hazards, heritage protection and disasters resilience

Competence, Liability and Culpability. Who's the blame?

by Claudio Cimino

3D Target 2

Cultour Active 25

Geogrà 42

Heritage 46

Salone del Restauro 48

Testo 19

Topcon 47

40 Virtual Archaeological


generated in Avaya live


by A. Joe Rigby, Mark Melaney

and Ken Rigby



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.


Renzo Carlucci


Managing Editor

Michele Fasolo


Editorial Board

Maurizio Forte, Bernard Frischer

Giovanni Ettore Gigante, Sandro Massa,

Maura Medri, Mario Micheli,

Francesco Prosperetti, Marco Ramazzotti,

Antonino Saggio, Francesca Salvemini



Giovanna Castelli


Valerio Carlucci


Domenico Santarsiero


Luca Papi



20 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



State-of-the-Art Solutions


News from the world of

Technologies for Cultural




30 The Crucifix Chapel of

Aci Sant’Antonio: Newly

discovered frescoes

by Antonino Cosentino, Samantha

Stout, Raffaello di Mauro,

Camilla Perondi


37 Save the Syrian

Heritage: technologies

to document Palmyra

and endangered world

heritage - Interview to

Yves Ubelmann, Iconem's CEO

Follow us on:


Follow us on:


a publication

by Archeomatica Editorial Staff

Science & Technology Communication

Science & Technology Communication

Graphic Design

Daniele Carlucci



Tatiana Iasillo


MediaGEO soc. coop.

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00185 Roma, ITALY

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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,

Luca Mandolesi

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)

3 .

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

software were:

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).



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

materials found.

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

Motion (sfm).

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

Excavation Plan”.

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).


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

the historical

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

popular purposes;

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

(Figure 18).

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

goggles (L.M).

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.

End Notes

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:

Mandolesi 2009.

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;

Selvini 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

1:10 scale.

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;

McCoy 2004.

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

(78), 375–394.

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


Roberto Montagnetti


Luca Mandolesi


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.


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;

Salerno 2010).

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;

Poldi 2009).

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.


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


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

elements detected

by XRF single spot

measurements. The

intensity values,

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

that element.

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

pictorial layers.

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

marzo 1942.

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,

novembre-dicembre 1942.

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

144, 43-52.

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,

Reber Editore.

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documenti, Palermo, Scuola Tip. Boccone del povero.

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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.

399, 3109-3116.

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.

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Scuderie del Quirinale, 18 marzo - 25 giugno 2006, Cinisello Balsamo,

Silvana, 91-113

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;

IR Reflectography


Maria Francesca Alberghina



Fernanda Prestileo


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),

Salvatore Schiavone


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?



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

actual figures.

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





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

art crime.


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.



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

in place?

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/

man-made disaster?

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

of strength.

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.


Vincenzo Fioriti

Claudio Cimino


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

large windows.

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

Grasso Naso.

“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 [1].


Multispectral Imaging

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 [2]. Two

1000 W halogen lamps were used for VIS and IR photography;

for UV photography, one high-Flux 365nm LED lamp

was sufficient.

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 [4]. 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

[4]. 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



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 [5].


Thirteen areas on this mural were selected for pXRF analysis,

figure 6.

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 [6]. 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 [7], 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

[8]. 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

Kiss of

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

entirely readable.

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

characterizing features.

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

dress highlights.

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 [1]. 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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Sicilian Cultural Heritage: Two different Applications” Proceedings of the NATO Advanced Research Workshop on Molecular

and Structural Archaeology: Cosmetic and Therapeutic Chemicals, Erice, Sicily, 2002, pp 85-106. Edited by Georges Tsoucaris

and Janusz Lipkowski.

[2] A. Cosentino “A practical guide to panoramic multispectral imaging” e-Conservation Magazine, 25, pp 64-73, 2013. Web


[3] A. Cosentino “Identification of pigments by multispectral imaging; a flowchart method” Heritage Science, 2:8, 2014. DOI:


Web http://www.heritagesciencejournal.com/content/pdf/2050-7445-2-8.pdf

[4] A. Cosentino “Fors, Fiber Optics Reflectance Spectroscopy con gli spettrometri miniaturizzati per l’identificazione dei

pigmenti” Archeomatica 1, 2014, pp 16-22.


[5] A. Paradisi, A. Sodo, D. Artioli, A. Botti, D. Cavezzali, A. Giovagnoli, C. Polidoro. M. A. Ricci “Domus Aurea, the ‘Sala delle

maschere’: Chemical and spectroscopic investigations on the fresco paintings” Archaeometry, volume 54, issue 6, 2012.

[6] E. West Fitzhugh (Editor) “Artists’ Pigments: A Handbook of Their History and Characteristics (Vol 3)” National Gallery of

Art; 3 edition, 1997, pp 219-271.

[7] S. Giovannoni, M. Matteini, A. Moles “Studies and Developments concerning the Problem of Altered Lead Pigments in Wall

Painting” Studies in Conservation, Vol. 35, No. 1, pp. 21-25, 1990.

[8] R. D. Harley “Artists’ Pigments c. 1600-1835” Butterworth-Heinemann, 2 edition, 1982, pp 100-102.

[4] E. West Fitzhugh (Editor) “Artists’ Pigments: A Handbook of Their History and Characteristics (Vol 3)” National Gallery of

Art; 3 edition, pp 273-293, 1997.

[5] E. René de la Rie “Fluorescence of Paint and Varnish Layers (Part III)” Studies in Conservation, Vol. 27, No. 3, pp 102-

108, 1982.

[6] D. Comelli, G. Valentini, A. Nevin, A. Farina, L. Toniolo, R. Cubeddu “A portable UV-fluorescence multispectral imaging

system for the analysis of painted surfaces” Review of Scientific Instruments, 79, 2008.

[7] G. Savage “Forgeries, fakes, and reproductions, a handbook for collectors” White Lion Publishers Ltd., London, appendix

3, 1976.

[8] J. J. Rorimer “Ultraviolet rays and their use in the examination of works of art” Metropolitan Museum of Art; 1st Ed.,


[9] A. Aldrovandi, E. Buzzegoli, A. Keller, D. Kunzelman “Investigation of painted surfaces with a reflected UV false color

technique” art’05, 8th International Conference on Non Destructive Investigations and Micronalysis for the Diagnostics and

Conservation of the Cultural and Environmental Heritage Lecce (Italy), 2005.

[10] T. Moon, M. R. Schilling, S. Thirkettle “A Note on the Use of False-Color Infrared Photography in Conservation” Studies in

Conservation, Vol. 37, No. 1, pp. 42–52, 1992.

[11] C. Hoeniger “The identification of blue pigments in early Sienese paintings by color infrared photography” Journal of

American institute of Conservation, Volume 30, Number 2, Article 1, pp 115-124, 1991.

[12] D.C. Creagh, D.A. Bradley “Radiation in Art and Archeometry” Elsevier, pp 40–55, 2000.

[13] J. W. Mayer “The Science of Paintings” Springer-Verlag New York, Inc., pp 125–127, 2000.

[14] 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.

[15] C. M. Falco “High-resolution infrared imaging” SPIE Optics + Photonics Conference, San Diego, 2010.

[16] S. Ridolfi “Portable X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometry for the analyses of Cultural Heritage” IOP Conference Series:

Materials Science and Engineering XTACH 11, 37, 2012.

[17] 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.

[18] 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

dei pigmenti.


bronze objects; corrosion; SEM; XRF; XRD;

treatment; conservation


Antonino Cosentino

Conservation Scientist, Blogger at Cultural Heritage

Science Open Source chsopensource.org


Samantha Stout

Doctoral student in Materials Science

Center of Interdisciplinary Science for Art, Architecture

and Archaeology (CISA3), University of California,

San Diego

Raffaello di Mauro

Architetto indipendente

Camilla Perondi

Studente Conservation Scientist

I migliori emergono

tel. +39 02 4830.2175



Strumenti per:

Indagini archeologiche

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

the territory.


Digital archaeology, documentation, heritage in danger, drones,



Redazione Archeomatica


Credits images: ICONEM/DGAM

38 ArcheomaticA International Special Issue

Cultural heritage Technologies 39


and for more information



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

catastrophic event.

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

Photo credits

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




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 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.



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

educational space.

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

of Presence.

7) Anderson, M. (2003), ‘Computer Games and Archaeological Reconstruction:

The low cost VR ,Proceedings of CAA Computer Applications

in Archaeology

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

in Archaeology

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

Blacksburg, Virginia

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


Mark Melaney


Ken Rigby


MellaniuM Ltd, Preston, Lancashire, UK PR3 3BN

42 ArcheomaticA International Special Issue

Cultural heritage Technologies 43








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info@stonex.it - italia@stonex.it



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,

engineering and GIS service companies, governments, utilities

and transportation authorities. Trimble's innovative technologies

include integrated sensors, field applications, real-time

communications and office software for processing, modeling

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core of Trimble's solutions to transform the way work is done.

For more information, visit:https://geospatial.trimble.com.

About TrimbleTrimble is transforming the way the world works

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For more information about Trimble, visit: www.trimble.com.





D-SITE is the first International


dealing with

the use of drones in

the field of Cultural

Heritage. It is directed

to researchers

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



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

Egypt (https://docs.paths-erc.eu/data/#maps_of_buildings_

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.


NAZIONALE racconta,

[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

archives http://www.aeronautica.

difesa.it/storia/ufficiostorico/) with

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

Fotografico Nazionale

(National Photographic

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://


php?it/553/fondi-cartografici and

also https://www.flickr.com/people/

aerofototecanazionale-iccd/ . There

are also a number of aerial cameras,

acquired with the Fotocielo collection,

and an exceptional array of aerial

photography-based map-making

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

agrarian landscape.

Regia Aeronautica

(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

by AFN.

British Royal Air Force (RAF)

Photographic reconnaissance by the

RAF over Italian

territory began as

early as September

1940, covering

southern Italy and

Sicily from Malta

and went on until

the end of hostilities.

This included

the aerial

reconnaissance by

Adrian Warburton

on 10th November

1940 in advance of

the large-scale attack

on the Italian

Fleet the following

day – the Night of



collection was

transported from

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

English) https://beniculturali.academia.edu/ElizabethJaneShepherd/



AFN; Italian archives; aerial photographs; historical

collections; cultural heritage;


Elizabeth J. Shepherd,


AFN director


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48 ArcheomaticA International Special Issue


Cultural heritage Technologies 49

The Intersection of


and Technology

I passi da gigante nelle tecnologie di comunicazione e misurazione stanno trasformando

il modo in cui le infrastrutture sono costruite. Creando soluzioni che abbracciano questi

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Parco Archeologico

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