Cultural Heritage

Hyperspectral sensors are now being used to examine Cultural Heritage. From texts, maps, paintings and other art to monuments, buildings, and even excavated archeological sites, the technology is easily deployed.

Imaging in the VNIR (400-1000nm) and SWIR (900-2500nm) has a number of important and interesting applications for cultural heritage because it provides a more complete representation of the entire field of view. This is a critical distinction because true context is provided on what are typically heterogeneous objects; by comparison, point sensors can only sample discrete locations. Imaging in the VNIR has been used since the mid 1990s for texts and paintings.

For texts, the application is typically content; for example, reading palimpsests and faded or damaged texts and maps. For art, the application is typically color and pigment mapping. SWIR imaging offers the possibility of chemical imaging, allowing the conservator to monitor and track chemistry changes over time.

Hyperspectral imagers offer scholars, curators and conservators unique advantages:

  • Enhance faded or hidden features-text/signatures

  • Detect restorations and repairs via chemical signature

  • Monitor and track changes of the object, or repairs and restorations

  • Identify local material components for proper repairs

  • Assess original coloring and pigmentation

Since little or no preparation of the document or artifact is necessary, this non-destructive spectral technique is invaluable for a wide range of conservation research relating to changes in color, chemical and substrates.