October 2019
Vol 5, Issue 10

About The Cover

Cover image expansion

ONLINE COVER Most of humanity's artistic creations are gone forever, while what remains has become fragmentary and fragile over the centuries. Sunlight, candle soot, high humidity, and insects have worn away Renaissance paintings, while coatings of bright paint have long faded from the famous Terracotta warriors of Xi-an and the statues of ancient Greece. But new technologies are helping scientists analyze and restore great works of art. These technologies have been the subject of the journal's "Scientific Methods in Cultural Heritage" special collection, launched in the spring of 2019. Hyperspectral imaging, magnetic resonance microscopy, femtosecond laser pulse control, and pattern recognition, among other approaches, are preserving and deciphering art for future generations. For example, a recent study by Sabetsarvestani et al. reveals that an AI-assisted approach, tested on the Adam and Eve panels of the famous Ghent Altarpiece, makes it easier to study paintings that feature images on both sides of a canvas. In another recent study, Barberio et al. demonstrate a plasma-driven technology's ability to inform how sunlight exposure darkens commonly used pigments, which will aid efforts in painting conservation. In an Editorial highlighting the collection, Science Advances Deputy Editor Warren S. Warren writes: "It has become clear that technologies [like these] can have a major impact on how we understand the past, and what we can transfer to the future." [CREDIT: IMAGE COURTESY NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART, WASHINGTON. PHOTOGRAPHY BY GREG WILLIAMS]