Academic Year 2022/2023 - Teacher: GIUSEPPE STELLA

Expected Learning Outcomes

The aim of the course is the achievement by the student of physics applied to Cultural Heritage. Specific objective is the knowledge of basic physical principles for the application of the principal methods for the characterization and dating of materials. Particular attention is given to the techniques used for the study of paintings and polychrome works as well as the methodologies that allow to establish the absolute chronology of pottery, bricks, mortar, geological sediments and speleothems.

Knowledge and understanding

Critical understanding of the most advanced developments in Modern Physics in both theoretical and laboratory aspects and their interconnections, even in interdisciplinary fields. Adequate knowledge of advanced mathematical and computer tools of current use in the fields of basic and applied research. High level of competence in the scientific method, and understanding of the nature and methodologies of research in Physics.

Applying knowledge and understanding

Ability to identify the essential elements of a phenomenon, in terms of order of magnitude and level of approximation necessary, and be able to make the required approximations. Ability to use the analogy tool to apply known solutions to new problems (problem solving). Ability to design and implement experimental and theoretical procedures to solve problems of academic and industrial research or to improve existing results. Ability to use analytical and numerical mathematical calculation tools and information technology, including the development of software programs. Ability to develop new and original approaches and methods.

Making judgements

Ability to work with increasing degrees of autonomy, also assuming responsibility in the planning and management of projects. Awareness of safety problems in laboratory work. Ability to discuss personal interpretations of physical phenomena, confronting each other in the context of work groups. Development of a sense of responsibility through the choice of optional courses and the subject of the degree thesis.

Communication skills 

Ability to communicate in Italian and English in the advanced fields of Physics. Ability to present their research activity or of scientific data review results to both specialist and nonspecialist audiences; Ability to work in an interdisciplinary group, adapting the modalities of expression to interlocutors of different culture.

Learning skills

Ability to acquire adequate cognitive tools for the continuous updating of knowledge. Ability to access specialized literature both in the chosen field and in scientifically close fields. Ability to use databases and bibliographic and scientific resources to extract information and suggestions for better focusing and developing personal study and research work.

Course Structure

The course is taught in english through lectures (5 CFU - 35 h) and teaching interactive laboratory classes (1 CFU - 15 h). Should teaching be carried out in mixed mode or remotely, it may be necessary to introduce changes with respect to previous statements, in line with the programme planned and outlined in the syllabus. 

Required Prerequisites

Electromagnetic waves. Electromagnetic spectrum. Ionizing and nonionizing radiation. E. m. radiation-matter interaction. Atomic and nuclear structure. Radioactive decays. Particle-matter interaction. Physics of detectors and characteristic quantities of radiation detectors.

Attendance of Lessons

Attendance at the course is normally compulsory (please refer to the Course Regulations).

Detailed Course Content

Archaeometry and applied science in Cultural Heritage: Applications of the sciences to study, conservation and restoration in Cultural Heritage.

Color and colorimetry: Optics for color measurements and specification. Physiology of vision and color perception. Fundamentals of photometry and colorimetry basics. Optical properties of bodies and materials. Color representation. Color specification. 

Imaging techniques: Electron microscopy. Signals from Scanning Electron Microscopy: images using secondary electrons, back-scattered electrons and X-rays. RGB imaging, IR reflectrometry and UV images. Thermography.

Raman Spettrometry: Classical and quantum theory of raman effect. Experimental set-up and signals detection. Application in Cultural Heritage.

Luminescence Dating: Thermoluminescence (TL) and Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL). Physical principles. Age equation. Palaeodose and annula Dose determination. Authenticity testing. Dating of artifacts, sediments and architectural elements.

ESR Dating: Electron Spin Resonance Spectrometry. Classical and quantum theory of resonance phenomena. Zeeman interaction, fine and hyperfine structures. ESR spectrometer.

Textbook Information

Aitken, M.J , 1985, Thermoluminescence Dating, Academic Press Inc.

Aitken, M.J , 1990, Science-based Dating in Archaeometry, Longman Archaeology Series

Aitken, M.J , 1998, Optical dating of sediments, Academic Press Inc.

Aldrovandi A., Picollo M., 2007, Metodi di documentazione e indagini non invasive sui dipinti, Il Prato Editore (collana I talenti), 112 p., 2 ed.

Ciliberto E., Spoto G., 2000, Modern Analytical Methods in Art and Archaeology, John Wiley & Sons

Edwards H. and Vandenabeele P., 2012, Analytical Archaeometry: Selected Topics, The Royal Society of Chemistry

Ferraro J.R., Nakamoto K., Brown C.W., 2003, Introductory Raman Spectroscopy, Academic Press

Goldstein J., Newbury D. E., Joy D.C., Lyman C.E. , Echlin P., Lifshin E., Sawyer L., Michael J.R., 2003, Scanning Electron Microscopy and X-ray Microanalysis, Springer

Gonzalez R.C., Woods R.E., 2008, Elaborazioni delle immagini digitali, Pearson 

Ikeya M., 1993, New application of Electron Spin Resonance – Dating, Dosimetry and Microscopy, World Scientific

Lewis I.R., Edwards H.G.M., 2001, Handbook of Raman Spectroscopy, Marcel Dekker

Long D. A., 1978, The Raman effect, John Wiley and sons Editor

Martini M., 2004, Milazzo M., PIacentini M., Physics Methods in Archaeometry, Società Italiana di Fisica

Oleari C., 2016, Standard Colorimetry: Definitions, Algorithms and Software, John Wiley Sons Inc

Tilley R.J.D., 2011, Colour and the optical properties of materials., Wiley

Turrell G. and Corset J., 1996, Raman Microscopy: Developments and Applications, Elsevier Academic Press

Wyszecki G. and Stiles W. S., 2000, Color Science: Concepts and Methods, Quantitative Data and Formulae, John Wiley & Sons

Notes provided by the Professor

Course Planning

 SubjectsText References
1 Archaeometry: sciences applied to Cultural Heritage Edwards H. and Vandenabeele P., 2012, Analytical Archaeometry: Selected Topics, The Royal Society of Chemistry
2Color measurement and specificationOleari C., Standard Colorimetry: Definitions, Algorithms and Software, 2016, John Wiley Sons Inc 
3Multispecral imaging techniques Ciliberto E., Spoto G., 2000, Modern Analytical Methods in Art and Archaeology, John Wiley & Sons 
4Raman spectrometryTurrell G. and Corset J., 1996, Raman Microscopy: Developments and Applications, Elsevier Academic Press 
5Dating methodologies by stimlated luminescence Aitken, M.J , Thermoluminescence Dating & Optical dating of sediments, Academic Press Inc. 
6Dating by Electron Spin ResonanceIkeya M., New application of Electron Spin Resonance – Dating, Dosimetry and Microscopy, World Scientific


Learning Assessment Procedures

The examination consists of an interview on the topics of the program and the discussion of a paper related to the description and processing of experimental data on a laboratory experience carried out during the teaching period. 

The evaluation of the interview and the discussion of the paper contribute equally to the formulation of the final grade and, therefore, to the examination grade. The evaluation of the interview is based primarily on the relevance of the answers to the questions formulated and the ability to connect with other topics covered in the program. An integral part of the oral interview is the discussion of the paper concerning the laboratory experience, taking into account, in particular, the quality of the content, the technical language property and the overall expressive ability of the student. 

Verification of learning may also be conducted electronically, should conditions require it. 

Examples of frequently asked questions and / or exercises

The questions below are not an exhaustive list but represent only a few examples

  • The role of Raman spectrometry for the study of Cultural Heritage.
  • Physical methodologies for Cultural Heritage and information that can be obtained. 
  • Dating of ceramics and sediments by stimulated luminescence. 
  • Dating of speleothems by Electronic Spin Resonance. 
  • Radioactive contents measurements by gamma spectrometry. 
  • Experimental measurements for color specification.