Two SEAHA Centre for Doctoral Training students, Mark Kearney and Cerys Jones have recently written blogs inspired by their time spent as ‘Student Engagers’ at UCL Museums. Aiming to broaden public engagement with researchers, student engagers are postgraduate students at UCL who share their knowledge and make connections between their own research and the collections at UCL.
Inspired by an Egyptian woven basket in the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, Mark blogs about the tradition of weaving which predates pottery. Musing about the mathematical patterns created through weaving, he offers a theory about the ubiquitous geometric patterns imprinted on the pottery displayed around the museum… read Mark’s blog to find out more.
Egyptian woven basket on display at the Petrie Museum UCL that inspired Mark Kearney’s blog.
Also taking the Petrie Museum as inspiration, Cerys Jones explores the fascinating pigment ‘Egyptian blue’ in her blog. Undetectable to the naked eye, this pigment has a special property in that it appears to glow under visible light. Using a multispectral imaging system, Cerys reveals this hidden property in a mummy mask, highlighting the use of Egyptian blue in the head cloth. Find out more about imaging Egyptian artefacts in Cerys’ blog.
Egyptian mummy cartonnage mask from the Petrie Museum illuminated in visible light (left) and captured with an infrared filter (right) demonstrating Egyptian blue pigment on the right. (Photo: Cerys Jones)
Mark Kearney is a SEAHA student based in the Institute for Sustainable Heritage at UCL. Mark’s project partners are Tate and Arkema and his research explores volatile organic compounds (VOCs) naturally emitted from polymers in order to detect and monitor the decay of 3D artworks in museums.
Cerys Jones is a SEAHA student based in the Department of Medical Physics and Bioengineering at UCL. Supported by R.B. Toth Associates and the London Met Archives, Cerys’ project aims to produce a pipeline for multispectral imaging of documentary material in the heritage sector.
The SEAHA CDT collection showcases research papers produced by students studying at our Centre for Doctoral Training, Science and Engineering in Arts, Heritage and Archaeology based at UCL, University of Oxford and University of Brighton.
I see the journal Heritage Science as the ideal venue for our research output: it is interdisciplinary, open to new ideas, and commited to the advancement of heritage science as a scientific discipline
With a wide range of research areas, the collection displays not only the high quality research emerging from the centre but also the diversity of expertise being developed within SEAHA’s cohort. For example, the collection includes work by UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage PhD student Danae Pocobelli who examines using building information modelling (BIM) for heritage buildings. In her article Pocobelli reviews how BIM has been used in the conservation of historic buildings to date and how aspects of BIM such as condition monitoring and weathering simulation can be used in future.
Another contribution from Hend Mahgoub explores techniques and materials used in Islamic papermaking. Using a variety of chemical analytical methods including surface profilometry, scanning electron microscopy and infrared spectroscopy, Mahgoub concludes that while there is no single defining characteristic of Islamic paper, 88% contain starch or were polished and the majority were neutral to mildly acidic.
Islamic papers at UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage used by SEAHA student Hend Mahgoub to study the material properties using non-destructive methods
Other contributions to the collection are equally as diverse, on topics such as smells of heritage, imaging Egyptian mummies, and moisture induced damage in the stately home Blickling Hall in Norfolk.
The authors’ backgrounds aranging from pure maths to engineering, to chemistry and sculpture. For instance Carolien Coon, whose research explores the degradation of 3D printed museum objects, has a background in fine art and worked as a sculpture conservator before embarking upon her PhD.
Images of the rapid prototype (RP) artwork “Out of the Cauldron” designed by Tom Lomax produced with RP technologies, before (above) and after (below) degradation. Carolien Coon explores the use of RP in heritage in her article as part of the heritage science collection.
Papers for the SEAHA CDT collection are selected by Guest Editor Dr Josep Grau-Bove, who commented on the collection, “I see the journal Heritage Science as the ideal venue for our research output: it is interdisciplinary, open to new ideas, and committed to the advancement of heritage science as a scientific discipline. We hope to continue growing this collection as SEAHA progresses, with at least four new papers a year”. Papers produced by the CDT are invited to be submitted as part of this article collection in Heritage Science.
SEAHA Centre for Doctoral Training’s (SEAHA CDT) fourth annual conference, held 4-6th June 2018 in London, was a resounding success. Over three days, over 100 heritage science professionals and students gathered in central London to hear the latest research from our esteemed keynote speakers, a wide selection of podium speakers, and more than 50 research posters.
There was a decidedly international feel to the conference this year, with delegates travelling from as far as China, the United States and the United Arab Emirates. Amongst this diversity of speakers, we challenged our delegates to think outside of their own subject areas and to consider how different disciplines, from architecture to data science, could contribute to the burgeoning cross disciplinary field.
‘The student [organisers] invited guest speakers from various fields some of which on the surface of it don’t have any link to heritage science yet, but it is the vision of our students, and of SEAHA, that these fields will become more and more interesting in the future [to heritage science] such as data science or crowdsourcing or proteomics and I think that was a phenomenal vision…they’ve done a phenomenal job.’
We opened our conference with an overview of how satellites could be used for management of heritage structures (Nicola Masini), then heard about how building information modelling (BIM) traditionally used in architecture and engineering can be applied to heritage sites fromEdonis Jesus. After lunch and an opportunity to view the many research posters on display, Baroness Margaret Sharp delivered an important lesson to delegates on how to implement research in policy making decisions, especially in times of austerity and short term thinking.
A SEAHA poster presenter enjoying an ice cream during the break
SEAHA student Mark Kearney demonstrates gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) to delegates
The second day of the conference left no less food for thought, with papers on such topics as how geckos could inspire adhesives for conservation (Jacek Olender), and how metagenomics can yield biological data to reveal how medieval manuscripts were constructed and used (Matthew Teasdale). Inspiring discussion about the role of the public in research and management of historic objects and sites, delegates also heard how crowdsourcing and participatory research has already been harnessed in a number of papers from Natalie Brown, Rosie Brigham, Paul Wilson and Alessandra Sprega. See the full programme of papers from the conference here.
The final day of the conference focused upon the future of the field. Our keynote came from SEAHA Director Professor May Cassar who explored the idea of a framework for what she termed a ‘heritage science economy’. Borrowing from the Nordic model, Prof Cassar argued for an economy of the field with enterprise at its heart and the creation of a market within which this can flourish.
We concluded SEAHA Conference 2018 with a stimulating roundtable discussion, in collaboration with ICOM-CC, on emerging professionals in the field. On hand to advise finishing SEAHA students and early career researchers were a panel of experts not only from the academic world but also from consultancy, conservation, and UCL Innovation and Enterprise.
Particularly salient advice from the panel how to sell the breadth of training that SEAHA offers its students to organisations, and the recommendation not to be scared of profit!
SEAHA student conference committee 2018 & SEAHA Centre Manager
SEAHA Conference 2018 was organised by a group of SEAHA students, co-chaired by PhD candidates Yun Liu and Dzhordzhio Naldzhiev. SEAHA would like to extend our thanks to the student committee and to all student volunteers at the event, our exhibitors, and our 2018 sponsors.
Centre for Doctoral Training in Science and Engineering in Arts Heritage and Archaeology