Innovative Study: Chemical Imaging Unveils Concealed Aspects of Egyptian Art

by Tatsuya Nakamura
Ancient Egyptian Art

A study utilizing portable chemical imaging technology has uncovered previously unseen modifications in ancient Egyptian paintings, implying the existence of deeper historical and symbolic elements. This study was led by Philippe Martinez of Sorbonne University, France, and conducted in partnership with the University of Liège, Belgium.

The research, published in the journal PLOS ONE, employed portable chemical imaging to analyze paintings in their original settings, providing insights into the composition and layering of paint as well as identifying changes made to these ancient artworks.

One of the key findings involved alterations in two paintings from tomb chapels in the Theban Necropolis, dating back to the Ramesside Period. The first painting showed a modification in the positioning of a figure’s arm, while the second revealed several adjustments to the crown and other royal insignia in a depiction of Ramesses II.

These findings challenge the prevailing belief that such alterations are rare in ancient art and underscore the need for further investigation. The study demonstrates the effectiveness of portable chemical imaging in analyzing ancient paintings in situ and encourages more extensive use of this technology in future research.

This research was supported by various institutions, including the DIM Analytics project IMAPAT, Ile-de-France, the National Research Agency under the Future Investments program, and the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office through the FED-tWIN program.

For further information on this groundbreaking research, refer to the PLOS ONE journal article titled “Hidden mysteries in ancient Egyptian paintings from the Theban Necropolis observed by in-situ XRF mapping”, published on 12 July 2023.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Ancient Egyptian Art

What does the recent study on Egyptian paintings reveal?

The study uncovers previously hidden alterations in ancient Egyptian paintings, suggesting deeper historical and symbolic layers. This was achieved through the use of portable chemical imaging technology.

Who conducted the study on Egyptian paintings and where was it published?

The study was led by Philippe Martinez of Sorbonne University, France, in collaboration with the University of Liège, Belgium, and published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.

What significant findings were made in the Egyptian paintings?

Two major findings included the alteration in the position of a figure’s arm in one painting and adjustments to the crown and royal insignia in a portrait of Ramesses II in another, indicating changes in symbolic meaning over time.

How does this study change our understanding of ancient Egyptian art?

The study challenges the belief that alterations in ancient Egyptian paintings are rare and underscores the importance of in-situ analysis using portable chemical imaging technology for a deeper understanding of these artworks.

What technology was used in this study of Egyptian paintings?

Portable chemical imaging technology was used to analyze the composition and layering of paint and identify alterations in the paintings in their original context.

What is the significance of this research for future studies of ancient art?

The findings advocate for a more systematic and thorough inspection of Egyptian paintings using physicochemical characterization, highlighting the potential of portable chemical imaging in art historical research.

More about Ancient Egyptian Art

  • PLOS ONE Journal Article
  • Sorbonne University Research
  • University of Liège Collaboration
  • Portable Chemical Imaging Technology
  • Ramesses II Art Analysis
  • Theban Necropolis Paintings Study
  • Ancient Egyptian Art History

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Sarah Brown December 19, 2023 - 8:51 pm

kinda makes you wonder what else is hidden in art from the past, maybe there are more secrets waiting to be found!

Jane Smith December 20, 2023 - 5:35 am

This is fascinating! it’s like we are rediscovering history all over again… who knew what secrets these paintings held?

John Doe December 20, 2023 - 9:51 am

wow, never knew that they could find new stuff in old paintings like this, technology is amazing these days!

Alex Lee December 20, 2023 - 10:16 am

Philippe Martinez seems to be doing some groundbreaking work, gotta check out more of his research.

Mike Johnson December 20, 2023 - 1:05 pm

interesting but I’m curious how they make sure they dont damage the paintings with this chemical imaging stuff?


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