The investigation and preservation of Cultural Heritage are topics of continuous interest and, besides the scientific, they have social political and economic implications.
Cultural Heritage Program (Heritage Science) through its basic and applied research provides the means for studying, understanding, preserving, safeguarding, reconstructing, and promoting archaeological and historical materials, monuments, sites, Heritage assets, as well as intangible techniques and practices. A further goal of the CH program is the reconstruction of palaeoenvironment, palaeodiet, palaeoclimate, palaeomobility and diachronic seismic activity, to define the environmental frame in which human evolution took place.
Finally, the program aims to study and exploit archaeological and traditional technologies and know-how and by integrating digital technologies, to develop modern building and restoration materials with improved properties, aligned with current technological trends and priorities of the Green Deal and Horizon Europe roadmaps.
The Program retains the unique Radiocarbon, Luminescence Dating and Stable Isotopes laboratories in the country, high power optical microscopes for petrographic and textural analysis, mercury intrusion porosimeter, plasma reactors for conservation, mechanical universal tester, thermal properties analyser, 3D printer for clays and cement, portable and handheld XRF spectrometers.
Cultural Heritage Program conduct high quality research in:
- All aspects of Archaeological (Archaeometry) and Conservation Sciences as well as development of advanced materials for restoration and enhancement of service life of monuments and modern buildings.
- Technological and Provenance Studies of material culture and natural resources for understanding technological evolution, distribution and trade roots in the ancient world.
- Absolute Dating of archaeological and geological samples by implementing the unique national infrastructure on Radiocarbon and Luminescence dating. Archaeothermo(chrono)metry.
- Study of ancient metallurgy by characterisation of metallurgical residues and smelting simulations.
- Basic research in age assessment and age limit extension in luminescence dating beyond 700 ka – improving the accuracy of ages beyond 200 ka.
- Metal corrosion studies and conservation and restoration of metallic archaeological objects by plasma chemistry methods
- Palaeoenvironmental studies for reconstruction of ancient landscapes, sea-land diachronic interaction as well as seismic and climate history.
- Mortars and grouts for the conservation of architectural monuments by designing of sustainable, energy-efficient composites which incorporate traditional, low-cost earthen-based materials and modern nanomaterials.
- Development of novel methodologies for the determination of stable isotope composition of different materials for palaeoenvironmental, palaeodiet and mobility reconstruction and determination of raw materials origin.
- Study of self-healing mechanisms in historic mortars and parametric modification of chemical composition and microstructure of modern repair mortars, to initiate the self-healing mechanism during service.
- Development and maintenance of relational open-access databases and big data management for ceramics, marble, biological and environmental materials.
- Development of low energy, eco-friendly alternative Belite Calcium-Sulpho-Aluminate (BCSA) clinker /cements and study of hydration process.
- Authenticity and fingerprinting of food and natural products.
This program provides in-house access to powerful analytical technique: Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (IRMS-GagBench-Flash EA), Luminescence (TL) and Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL), Radiocarbon, electron Microscopy (SEM, TEM), surface analysis (EDX), X-ray diffraction (XRD) and X-ray fluorescence.
This program aims to make a significant contribution to the education (MSc, PhD) and to the scientific understanding of societal and economical issues such as environment, energy assessment, and chemical and isotopical fingerprint of natural products.