Macroscale multimodal imaging reveals ancient painting production technology and the vogue in Greco-Roman Egypt.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-15743-5
Macroscale multimodal chemical imaging combining hyperspectral diffuse reflectance (400-2500 nm), luminescence (400-1000 nm), and X-ray fluorescence (XRF, 2 to 25 keV) data, is uniquely equipped for noninvasive characterization of heterogeneous complex systems such as paintings. Here we present the first application of multimodal chemical imaging to analyze the production technology of an 1,800-year-old painting and one of the oldest surviving encaustic ("burned in") paintings in the world. Co-registration of the data cubes from these three hyperspectral imaging modalities enabled the comparison of reflectance, luminescence, and XRF spectra at each pixel in the image for the entire painting. By comparing the molecular and elemental spectral signatures at each pixel, this fusion of the data allowed for a more thorough identification and mapping of the painting's constituent organic and inorganic materials, revealing key information on the selection of raw materials, production sequence and the fashion aesthetics and chemical arts practiced in Egypt in the second century AD.