Focus of Study: Reconstructing and Conserving the Past

Focus of Study: Reconstructing and Conserving the Past

Core Study: Focus of Study- Reconstructing and conserving the past:

Changing Interpretations

Since the discovery of Pompeii and Herculaneum over two hundred and fifty years ago, science and technologies have developed offering new and ever evolving interpretations of these sites.  Due to the precarious nature of these sites, and the ongoing efforts to conserve and preserve them, these new technologies are primarily non-invasive.  Reflectance Transformation Imaging or RTI is one such new technology used primarily on graffiti and inscriptions at Pompeii and Herculaneum.  To understand better what RTI is see the Cultural Heritage Imaging. For its use at Pompeii and Herculaneum see the list below:


X-ray Fluorescence or XRF is another non-destructive technology used in the study of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Used primarily for the chemical analysis of rock, minerals, sediments and fluids and works on a on wavelength-dispersive spectroscopic principles.  For more information on how XRF works the Carleton University website on X-Ray Fluorescence and Thermo Fisher Scientific’s description of XRF Technology.

Researchers at Pompeii and Herculaneum have used XRF on the pigments on crumbing wall paintings in the hope to illuminate what the original looked like.  See the list below for the results of these tests, plus the further uses of XRF at these sites.

New technologies have also been used on the study of the human remains from the cities of Vesuvius.  From Australia’s own Doctor Estelle Lazer to the Faces of Oplontis project, these new technologies have shed light on these ancient people, their quality of life, age and their diet.  For more information on these projects and ongoing research see the list below:

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