Enhancing the examination workflow for Byzantine icons: Implementation of information technology tools in a traditional context

John Stratis, Christina Makarona, Dimitra Lazidou, Elena Gómez Sánchez, Anestis Koutsoudis, Marisa Pamplona, Regine Pauswein, George Pavlidis, Stefan Simon, Nestor Tsirliganis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


In the interdisciplinary domain of conservation science, a critical and selective eye is required in order to allow researchers to choose the most effective combination of analytical techniques for each project and, more importantly, to process and analyze the resulting volume of diverse data. The current essay attempts to combine a more traditional workflow for the examination of painted objects with techniques borrowed from the domain of computer science in order to yield the maximum amount of information and make that added knowledge more accessible to the researcher. The project was approached as a case study, regarding a post-Byzantine icon. Three-dimensional digitization with a laser scanning system, X-ray radiography and optical microscopy were applied for the determination of several structural characteristics of the painted surface and the icon's state of preservation. Multispectral imaging was used for the collection of surface spectral data, which were subsequently processed by means of cluster analysis in a novel approach to map the composition of the painted surface. Finally, micro-X-Ray Fluorescence (micro-XRF) was chosen as the primary source for surface pointwise elemental composition data while Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) and Gas Chromatography coupled with Mass Spectroscopy (GC-MS) provided additional assistance in the characterization of materials based on their molecular structure. A custom platform was developed to address the issue of multilevel visualization and assessment of the data, designed to act as a tool for viewing and combining the acquired information. Via this integrated approach valuable information regarding the icon was revealed, including the verification of a prior conservation attempt and partial overpainting, the recording and quantification of the warping of the wooden panel and, finally, the identification of the constituent materials and their spatial distribution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-91
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cultural Heritage
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


  • Post-Byzantine icon
  • micro-XRF
  • GC-MS
  • FTIR
  • cluster analysis
  • multispectral imaging
  • 3D digitisation


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