Giuseppe GORINI

(Milano-Bicocca University, Milano, Italy)

Outline: Development of neutron-based techniques for non-invasive analysis of cultural heritage objects.

The discovery of ancient artefacts that bear witness to our cultural heritage typically raises a variety of questions: from the correct determination of their historical and cultural time-frame, the location and method of production, to the choice of treatments and environmental conditions for restoration and preservation. A large variety of chemical, physical and microstructural techniques are currently employed for the study of objects of cultural significance. Most analytical techniques are either invasive (i.e. they require coring, sectioning or even powdering of some portion of the sample) or limited to analysis of the objects surface.
< Neutrons can penetrate layers of several centimetres without substantial attenuation depending on their energy. This property makes them an almost ideal probe for non-destructive analysis of undisturbed and unique objects made from materials as diverse as ceramics, glass, bronze and other metals. While the potential of neutron-based techniques is large, their development is recent.
This paper presents new neutron-based techniques for the analysis of archaeological objects developed by the European project Ancient Charm. Ancient Charm is an ADVENTURE project, an action line of NEST (New and Emerging Science and Technology). It is an activity in the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) to support unconventional and visionary research with the potential to open new fields for European science and technology, as well as research on potential problems uncovered by science.

Keywords: neutron-based analysis, archaeometry, neutron imaging