Nuclear Physics Helps Researching and Preserving Cultural Heritage

Nuclear physics research helps not only opening the veil of secrets of the creation and existence of the world, but also providing an opportunity to learn about the material cultural heritage of humanity and preserve it for future generations.

Kyiv supported by the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Ministry of Culture of Ukraine and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has passed courses for the “Implementation of innovative research methods and preservation of cultural heritage facilities” in the Ukrainian Association for the Preservation of Historical and Cultural Monuments during the week, from 5 to 9 November.

During the course, students were able to familiarize themselves with the fundamentals of X-ray fluorescence analysis (XRF) and its capabilities in determining chemical composition of certain subjects, in particular, archaeological and cultural artifacts, and localize their origin in some cases. This method also attracts great interest among restorers, since it allows determining chemical composition of paints on canvases to be restored. The XRF-method can be successfully used as a method for combating the falsification of works of art and historical monuments, because each era has its own specifics, anyway. It is much simpler and cheaper as compared to analogues; therefore, it can be used by art historians, archaeologists, museum and archival workers in in their activities.

The organizers demonstrated during the course the practical application of the described methodology, familiarized with XRF- method hardware and processing of energy-dispersive X-ray spectra.

A separate training unit was devoted to the issues and methods of radioisotope dating that allow establishing a period, to which this or that item of interest can be attributed.

The head of the educational courses Oleksandr Buhay also familiarized students with innovative radiation methods for processing and preserving cultural heritage items that were already used in some centers, in particular, ARC-Nucléart Center (Grenoble, France).

The proposed course is an example of interaction of art historians with nuclear physics specialists that is interesting to all people who devoted their lives to studying the history of material culture. Editorial Board