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Σύνδεσμος Κυπρίων Αρχαιολόγων

Association of Cypriot Archaeologists

Dr Uwe Bergmann and Dr Loïc Bertrand - X-ray Fluorescence Imaging of Ancient Materials - From Archimedes to Archaeopteryx and Beyond

Filed under:
Διάλεξη - Lecture
Event Date:
Wednesday, 16 May 2018 18:00 - 20:00

The Cyprus Institute
Κτίριο Guy Ourisson
Κωνσταντίνου Καβάφη 20
Αγλαντζιά, Λευκωσία 2121

The Science and Technology in Archaeology Research Centre of the Cyprus Institute organizes a lecture by Dr Uwe Bergmann (SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, USA) and Dr Loïc Bertrand (IPANEMA, SOLEIL Synchrotron, France), entitled: "X-ray Fluorescence Imaging of Ancient Materials - From Archimedes to Archaeopteryx and Beyond". The lecture will take place on Wednesday, 16 May 2018, 18:00-20:00 at The Cyprus Institute, NTL Events Room, 1st Floor, Athalassa Campus.

The presentation will take place on the occasion of the UNESCO International Day of Light and is open to the scientific community, and the public. The UNESCO International Day of Light is a global initiative that provides an annual focal point for the continued appreciation of light and the role it plays in science, culture and art, education, and sustainable development, and in fields as diverse as medicine, communications, and energy. For further information contact: office.events@cyi.ac.cy


The 10th century parchment document known as the Archimedes Palimpsest, contains the oldest surviving copy of works by the Greek genius Archimedes of Syracuse (287 – 212 BC). To uncover his obscured writings we developed the technique of rapid-scan X-ray fluorescence (XRF) imaging at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource. Since its successful application in the Archimedes project, we further optimized the method over the last decade, enabling us to carry out numerous imaging studies of large objects of cultural, archaeological and paleontological importance.

In this lecture, we will describe the X-ray imaging method and the powerful synchrotron sources that enable these studies. We will present some of the most exciting results of our quest to uncover our cultural and natural heritage. These examples include the imaging of a seventh-century Qur’an palimpsest and a section of the original score of the opera Médée, which was probably overpainted by its composer Luigi Cherubini berfore its premiere in 1797 and the recently imaged Syriac Galen Palimpsest.

Other examples include studies of dino-bird fossils, such as the iconic 150 million-year-old Archaeopteryx and Confuciusornis sanctus, a 120-million-year-old fossil of the oldest documented bird with a fully derived avian beak. Please join us in a fascinating journey through our ancient history, and how powerful modern X-ray methods help us to uncover it.

Speakers biography:

Dr Uwe Bergmann got his PhD in Physics from Stony Brook University and is a Distinguished Staff Scientist at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Principal Investigator at the Stanford PULSE Institute. His research activities focus on the development and application of novel synchrotron, X-ray laser and ultrafast electron techniques. His scientific interests include studies of the structure of water and aqueous solution, active centers in metalloproteins in particular the photosynthetic splitting of water, hydrocarbons and fossil fuels, functional 2D materials, and imaging of ancient documents and fossils. Bergmann has done his graduate research at the National Synchrotron Light Source and since worked at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource, and the Linac Coherent Light Source, the world's first X-ray free electron laser.

Dr Loïc Bertrand has a background in physico-chemistry, and since 1999 has dedicated his research activity to the study of materials from archaeology, cultural heritage, palaeo-environments and palaeontology while working at C2RMF (Paris), the University of Cambridge (UK), Laboratoire de physique des solides and the SOLEIL synchrotron facility (Paris-Saclay). Dr Bertrand is the Director of the IPANEMA European research laboratory on ancient materials since 2010. IPANEMA is a joint laboratory of CNRS, the French Ministry of Culture, and the Versailles University located at SOLEIL Synchrotron. IPANEMA is supported by the European Commission and foreign institutions, including the Smithsonian Institution, the NSF of the USA, and the Dutch research funding agency NWO. Dr Bertrand coordinates the participation of France to the European Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science (E-RIHS) with I. Pallot-Frossard (C2RMF) and he is in charge of the scientific strategy of E-RIHS Europe. He is the coordinator of the Key Research Sector "Matériaux anciens et Patrimoniaux" with E. Anheim (EHESS) and M. Tengberg (AASPE), which gathers 100 laboratories and institutions in the Île-de-France Region. Dr Bertrand’s research is centred on the study of properties of ancient materials through their full-field and raster-scanning microimaging, via development of methodological approaches based on infrared, UV-visible and X-ray synchrotron radiation. He researches information on the long-term ageing processes and exceptional preservation of biological remains and materials from archaeological systems studied at microscale (micro-taphonomy), on manufacturing techniques used in the past, and on the provenance of raw materials used to produce archaeological artefacts.

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