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Museums play a crucial role in society by educating the public and representing diverse aspects of culture through their exhibits. Therefore, it is imperative to render museums accessible to the largest audience and initiatives that reduce cultural exclusion of people living with disabilities are highly recommended and encouraged. Today, the utilisation of ICT, foster social inclusion and allow cultural heritage context to become more accessible physically and intellectually. In particular, the accessibility of museum collections by the visually impaired (VI) is a very active multidisciplinary research domain. Actually, haptic prohibition is one of the most common limitations when interacting with museum artefacts. This restriction aims quite logically at preventing damages while safeguarding the integrity of the cultural reserve, characterised by its uniqueness. Nevertheless, if museum visitors are visually impaired, the inability to touch the artefacts makes the whole experience incomplete as the haptic perception of an artefact’s morphology is the primary substitute of sight. ICT may play a significant role in providing assistive methods that enable individuals to access museums’ reserve through multimodal approaches that are not limited to the actual premises of a museum. The elimination of the ”Do not touch” ban in conjunction with on-demand narrative enrichment triggers the general interest and initiates a further involvement in comprehending the cultural and historical background encapsulated by exhibits.
Few examples of dichroic (from Greek dikhroos , two-coloured) glass vessels from Hellenistic and Roman antiquities are known, the most famous being the Lycurgus cup exposed at British Museum. This cup, prepared by ancient roman glassmakers (4th cent. AD), is ornamented by a carved freeze with the scene of Lycurgus death and its dichroic nature is still exciting the researchers. In fact, the optical properties of the used glass are very unusual even for a modern observer: it has a red wine color in transmitted light and olive-greenish in reflected light, the dichroic properties being observed for the whole cup, not only for some specific coating.
Identification of dyes is of great importance for the protection of textiles artefacts, as well as for further understanding the manufacturing process of ancient dyes. Moreover, the evaluation of degradation status can help conservators to reconstruct the original appearance of historical textile objects and predict the stability of their colors.
Natural organic dyes on textile are usually detected through molecular analytical methods. In particular, liquid chromatography (LC) and gas chromatography (GC) have been widely used in the dye analysis with high accuracy. However, they are invasive methods, as they are based on the analysis of organic extracts.
Recently, non-invasive methods based on spectroscopy technology, such as reflectance spectroscopy and fluorescence spectroscopy, received great attention. Reflectance spectroscopy is used for the characterization of paint films and pigments. In addition, Kubelka-Munk’s theoretical reflectivity of diffuse medium provides chances to quantitatively analyze mixtures of pigments by reflectance spectroscopy. When the scattering coefficient is independent of the wavelength, the typical absorption spectrum measured by the reflection can be used as a substitute indicator for the actual absorption spectra.
Metal archaeological artefacts such as mail armour can be examined in numerous ways to extract information from the object. It can be assumed that, as textiles, different mail armours have different characteristics and behave accordingly and may have changed through time or geography. The behaviour and characteristics of mail armour depend substantially on the physical and mechanical properties of the mail fabric. These properties are contained within the archaeological remains and can still reveal important information on the characteristics of mail armour. However,
none of current methods and techniques is able to determine the physical and mechanical properties of the mail garment in its entirety.
Actually, there are three challenges to overcome. First, archaeological artefacts must be treated with care and should preferably not be submitted to tests that can be harmful to their condition. Second, archaeological mail is usually fragmented, damaged or corroded. And lastly, there are currently no standards for physical and mechanical testing of mail.
Silver was widely used in the production of ancient artifacts because of its excellent ductility, malleability and aesthetic appearance. However, some archaeological silver artifacts or, strictly speaking, silver-copper alloys are found to be brittle, due to long-term corrosion, mainly caused by intergranular corrosion. The mechanism is local galvanic attack between the Ag-enriched matrix (α phase) and the Cu-enriched grain boundary (β phase) but it is a rather complex process involving the differences in local electrochemical activities, difficult to be fully understood with the existing techniques.
In the paper Scanning electrochemical cell microscopy: A powerful method to study the intergranular corrosions of archaeological silver artifacts, by Shengyu Liu at al. published on the Journal of Cultural Heritage, Vol. 46, 2020, Pages 176-183, Scanning Electrochemical Cell Microscopy (SECCM) is proposed as a method to visualize local electrochemical activities at high spatial resolution.