Swiss National Museum

Zürich, Switzerland

Swiss National Museum

Zürich, Switzerland
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Mannes D.,Paul Scherrer Institute | Lehmann E.,Paul Scherrer Institute | Masalles A.,Museu Nacional dArt de Catalonia | Schmidt-Ott K.,Swiss National Museum | And 5 more authors.
Insight: Non-Destructive Testing and Condition Monitoring | Year: 2014

The use of non-invasive and non-destructive methods is highly relevant for cultural heritage objects in particular, due to their uniqueness and the often high cost of material as well as immaterial value. It is, however, of great importance to gain a simple overview of their material distribution, the manufacturing techniques, the provenance and the current condition (for example the determination of possible damage) by transmission imaging techniques. While X-ray imaging is often sufficient for such investigations, there are numerous cases where the method reaches its limits. Here, the complementarities of neutrons applied in a similar manner can provide new insights into the object studied. The better transmission for metals and the higher contrast for organic materials can already be exploited in the simple neutron radiography mode. More advanced are the neutron tomography methods, which are available at the neutron imaging facilities of the Paul Scherrer Institut (PSI) on a wide dimensional scale range. Virtual slices through the objects at arbitrary positions enable deeper perceptions and also dimensional determinations in full 3D. Further methodical improvements have been developed. Narrowing the neutron energy band allows information on the microcrystalline structure to be obtained directly, and using phase-contrast and dark-field techniques by means of a grating interferometer device enables a deeper understanding of the material compositions and structures. The examples in this paper are chosen to demonstrate the application range of neutron imaging and the performance of the different set-ups.

Morales-Molino C.,University of Bern | Morales-Molino C.,Technical University of Madrid | Vescovi E.,University of Bern | Krebs P.,Swiss Federal Institute of forest | And 5 more authors.
Holocene | Year: 2015

Changes in fire occurrence during the last decades in the southern Swiss Alps make knowledge on fire history essential to understand future evolution of the ecosystem composition and functioning. In this context, palaeoecology provides useful insights into processes operating at decadal-to-millennial time scales, such as the response of plant communities to intensified fire disturbances during periods of cultural change. We provide a high-resolution macroscopic charcoal and pollen series from Guèr, a well-dated peat sequence at mid-elevation (832 m.a.s.l.) in southern Switzerland, where the presence of local settlements is documented since the late Bronze Age and the Iron Age. Quantitative fire reconstruction shows that fire activity sharply increased from the Neolithic period (1–3 episodes/1000 year) to the late Bronze and Iron Age (7–9 episodes/1000 year), leading to extensive clearance of the former mixed deciduous forest (Alnus glutinosa, Betula, deciduous Quercus). The increase in anthropogenic pollen indicators (e.g. Cerealia-type, Plantago lanceolata) together with macroscopic charcoal suggests anthropogenic rather than climatic forcing as the main cause of the observed vegetation shift. Fire and controlled burning were extensively used during the late Roman Times and early Middle Ages to promote the introduction and establishment of chestnut (Castanea sativa) stands, which provided an important wood and food supply. Fire occurrence declined markedly (from 9 to 5–6 episodes/1000 year) during late Middle Ages because of fire suppression, biomass removal by human population, and landscape fragmentation. Land-abandonment during the last decades allowed forest to partly re-expand (mainly Alnus glutinosa, Betula) and fire frequency to increase. © The Author(s) 2014.

Gibaja J.F.,Institucion Mila y Fontanals | Ibanez J.J.,Institucion Mila y Fontanals | Nielsen E.,Kantonsarchaologie Luzern | Kienholz A.,Kantonsarchaologie Zurich | And 2 more authors.
Quaternary International | Year: 2016

The study of the use-wear marks on the Neolithic reaping knives from the site of Egolzwil 3 (Switzerland, late fifth millennium cal BC) shows that these tools were used to reap cereals by cutting the stems near the ground. The stems were gathered together using the pointed distal end, held in the free hand and cut with the flint blade, in what we term a two-stage reaping method. These types of sickles or reaping knives are found at Neolithic sites in the northern Mediterranean (centre and north of the Iberian Peninsula, Provence in France and continental Italy) from the mid-sixth millennium, in the context of the early Neolithic Cardial Culture, and lasted until the early fourth millennium. Within the tradition of two-stage reaping knives, the Egolzwil type would have been adapted to reaping at a low height in very dense cereal fields. These tools show that the Neolithic groups in the Swiss central plain belonged to the circle of northern Mediterranean farming technical traditions, in their northernmost expression, in contact with the groups in south Germany who reaped with curved sickles whose flint elements were inserted obliquely. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.

Coccato A.,Ghent University | Karampelas S.,Gubelin Gem Laboratory | Worle M.,Collection Center | Van Willigend S.,Swiss National Museum | Petrequin P.,University of Franche Comte
Journal of Raman Spectroscopy | Year: 2014

Raman spectroscopy was used for the characterization of seven gem quality green 'jade' samples and three green 'jade' samples of archaeological importance. The results were also compared with those acquired by other nondestructive techniques such as classical gemology, energy-dispersive X-ray fluorescence (EDXRF), ultraviolet-visible-near infrared (UV-Vis-NIR) in absorption, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) in absorption and micro-FTIR in reflectance. Five samples of gem quality and two samples of archaeological interest were found to be 'jadeite jade', whereas two samples of gem quality and one sample of archaeological interest were 'omphacite jade'. Raman spectroscopy is found to be the most efficient method for their characterization. The results were confirmed with EDXRF and micro-FTIR in reflectance. Data acquired using classical gemology, UV-Vis-NIR absorption and FTIR absorption spectroscopy were similar on 'omphacite jade' and 'jadeite jade'. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Grolimund D.,Paul Scherrer Institute | Berger D.,State Museum of Prehistory | Bolliger Schreyer S.,Historical Museum Bern | Borca C.N.,Paul Scherrer Institute | And 7 more authors.
Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry | Year: 2011

Over the most recent years, micro-analytical facilities based on neutron beams as well as synchrotron X-ray radiation advanced to indispensable instruments in the context of investigating artwork and archaeological artifacts. Using a combined approach of neutron and X-ray micro-beam techniques we investigated a uniquely decorated flanged axe dated into the Early Bronze Age (2200-1600 BC). This axe found in Central Europe is in view of its very early dating and striking parallels to Greek objects one of the most important artifacts concerning the provenance of its particular decoration technique. Neutron tomography was employed to obtain a full three-dimensional structural analysis of the object. Complementary, X-ray microprobe investigations were used to produce two-dimensional chemical and crystallographic images with high spatial resolution. The analysis of the internal structural details of the historical object provides invaluable information regarding manufacturing techniques and material properties. Important insights were obtained for different steps of the object creation including the body casting, the smithing, and - most important - the unique damascening decoration. The compositional analysis and the chemical imaging yield crucial information about the provenance of the metallic raw materials used. The technical and structural peculiarities observed for the axe of Thun-Renzenbühl reveal distinct differences as compared to Mediterranean objects. Additionally, the chemical analysis of the copper inlays used as part of the decoration point towards the usage of pure copper metal, again in contrast to the more 'exotic' copper-gold alloys employed in the Mediterranean damascening decorations. Contradictory to the widely accepted conception of a strong influence of Mediterranean cultures, the present findings point towards a considerable influence of Bronze Age Central Europe by cultures located in the Balkan Peninsula and Caucasus region. © 2011 The Royal Society of Chemistry.

Mannes D.,Paul Scherrer Institute | Schmid F.,Paul Scherrer Institute | Frey J.,Archaeological Service Zug | Schmidt-Ott K.,Swiss National Museum | Lehmann E.,Paul Scherrer Institute
Physics Procedia | Year: 2015

The combined utilization of neutron and X-ray imaging for non-invasive investigations of cultural heritage objects is demonstrated on the example of a short sword found a few years ago in lake Zug, Switzerland. After conservation treatments carried out at the Swiss National Museum the sword was examined at the Paul Scherrer Institut (PSI), Villigen (CH), by means of neutron and X-ray computer tomography (CT). The two types of radiation show different interaction behavior with matter, which makes the two methods complementary. While X-rays show a strong correlation of the attenuation with the atomic number, neutrons demonstrate a high sensitivity for some light elements, such as Hydrogen and thus organic material, while some heavy elements (such as Lead) show high penetrability. The examined object is a composite of metal and organic material, which makes it an ideal example to show the complementarity of the two methods as it features materials, which are rather transparent for one type of radiation, while yielding at the same time high contrast for the other. Only the combination of the two methods made an exhaustive examination of the object possible and allowed to rebuild an accurate replica of the sword. © 2015 The Authors.

Karampelas S.,Gubelin Gem Laboratory | Worle M.,Swiss National Museum | Hunger K.,Swiss National Museum | Lanz H.,Swiss National Museum | And 2 more authors.
Gems and Gemology | Year: 2010

The gemstones that adorn a late-16th-century ciborium from Einsiedeln Abbey in Einsiedeln, Switzerland, were investigated by nondestructive gemological methods and EDXRF and Raman spectroscopy at the Collections Center of the Swiss National Museum. The ciborium is decorated with 17 colored stones: 10 almandine garnets, four grossular garnets, and three sapphires. Inclusions in the sapphires and a historic description of the piece suggest a Sri Lankan origin for the gems. © 2010 Gemological Institute of America.

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