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Spectral Imaging for Cultural Heritage


The science of hyperspectral imaging in the infrared ranges is extremely valuable to the field of artwork analysis and conservation. It is a non-invasive, non-contact means by which complete spectral data is collected for every pixel within the field of view across hundreds of narrow, contiguous spectral bands within the range of interest.

Historically significant documents such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, Gettysburg Address, and ancient maps have benefited from non-invasive imaging and analysis using Headwall sensors and software to detect subtle changes in color that can contribute to more accurate forensic analysis. Enhance faded or hidden features, confirm authenticity, identify regions for restoration, and more.

Chemical imaging shows that this vase bottom (below) has significant repairs, and that the restoration and original can be separated using the Headwall SWIR 640 and are chemically different. The restoration has been painted over and is not visible to the eye. Such data can provide information on past repairs that may not be documented.

Pigment and Binder Mapping

The SWIR spectral image chart shows there are two different binders in this painting, animal glue and egg. Knowing the nature of the organic pigment binders is important to understanding the chemistry of changes in the objects, as well as doing repairs using matching materials.

The Headwall ADVANTAGE

  • Eliminate manual sampling
  • Rapidly scan entire product
  • No-contact scanning
  • Non-destructive illumination

Want to know more?

Our Headwall Applications Team will work with you to explore how HSI can deliver value to your conservation efforts

More Application Notes

An RGB image of a mixture of herbs and spices alongside a hyperspectral false-color scan of the same pile.
Cayenne and Oregano

Spectral classification via the perClass Mira Software makes the task of assessing herb and spice quality less challenging by providing a clear indication of the

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Hyperspectral 101

Webinar / Videos

Published Research