Field A: Artefact Profiling
Written artefacts can tell us much more than what meets the eye. Apart from their written content or design, the materials used store information regarding production and preparatory treatment, writing practices, use and reuse, storage and deterioration, as well as possible traces of conservation intervention. Material analysis can uncover this wealth of information and shed light on the physical, chemical and biological identity, provenance and history of a written artefact by identifying its original and its acquired properties. The Cluster’s global approach to the huge number of unexplored written artefacts from various regions, times, and cultures involves a new scope of material variety and of the histories of artefacts. Artefact Profiling treats a set of questions that focus largely on the artefact’s origin (its chemical and biological identity, and its provenance) and the natural and anthropogenic changes it undergoes (such as corrosion, ageing, decay, treatment, destruction, etc.). Scientific investigations of the material composition of written artefacts provide important information for their authentication, for the development and validation of diverse restoration or conservation treatments, and they can generate valuable knowhow regarding the preservation of cultural heritage. Eventually, Artefact Profiling seeks to enhance the understanding of preservation processes, which again require technical and methodological developments towards non-invasive and in-field profiling strategies.
A1 | Technical and methodological developments towards non-invasive and in-field profiling will set up the overall technical basis, including the design of mobile constructions and instruments for in-field analyses, and the development of non-destructive, as well as minimal-invasive sampling strategies.
A2 | Understanding artefacts on a material level: Origin – Change attends to the composition of materials used for the artefact’s production and their property-functionality relations. For example, what material properties are mandatory for producing a certain type of written artefact? What are the relations between the inscribability of the material, its usability and its durability? In what way can the material be influenced by exogenous, natural or by anthropogenic factors (corrosion, ageing, decay, treatment or destruction, etc.) over time?