Dialogues in Heritage Science: Large scale non-invasive scientific imaging and analysis of wall paintings at the UNESCO site of Mogao Caves along the Silk Road

November 12, 2014

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2014 at 4:30pm at the Environmental Science Center (21 Sachem Street, 1st Floor, Lecture Hall 110)

Abstract: The UNESCO world heritage site, Mogao caves near Dunhuang, is a Buddhist temple site along the ancient Silk Road with a history that extends over 1000 years from the 4th C to the 14th C. The 45,000 square metres of wall paintings in 492 caves are an immense resource for the study of the history of art, architecture, religion, technology, politics and cultural exchange along the Silk Road. In this talk, we show an example of a systematic in situ study of the wall paintings using a range of non-invasive optical imaging and spectroscopic instruments. Microfade spectrometry, PRISMS (the remote 3D spectral imaging system), hand-held X-ray Fluorescence spectrometry (XRF), and Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) will all be discussed. This talk demonstrates through examples how a combination of non-invasive imaging and spectroscopic methods can yield a wealth of information for conservation and art history.

Speaker biography: Haida Liang gained a PhD in Astronomy & Astrophysics from the Australian National University in 1996. She then received a fellowship to work in the X-ray Astronomy group at Service d’Astrophysique of Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique in France. She then continued her work on clusters of galaxies at the Physics Department of the University of Bristol. In 2002, she changed her career path and worked at the Scientific Department of the National Gallery (London) on the development of non-invasive imaging techniques for the examination of paintings. She is currently leading the Imaging Science for Archaeology & Art Conservation group at Nottingham Trent University in the UK. Her main research interests are the development and application of advanced optical imaging and spectroscopic techniques and remote sensing to art conservation, art history and archaeology.