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Imaging Techniques Reveal 17th C. Religious Scenes

Monday, November 2, 2015

synchrotron religious medalsGRENOBLE, FRANCE—A small metal box unearthed from a seventeenth-century grave at the site of the Saint Laurent Church has been examined with X-ray imaging techniques developed at the European Synchrotron (ESRF). Conservators from the Centre de Restoration et d’Etude Archaeologique Municipal in Vienne, France, had not been able to open the badly damaged box and view its contents, but they were able to stop the oxidation process from inflicting further damage to it. They could also see through the box’s broken lid that it contained three coin-like artifacts. Scans were made by the ESRF team of the contents using phase contrast synchrotron X-ray micro-tomography. The 3-D images revealed that the coin-like objects were three religious medals made of clay. Two pearls were also seen in the box. The team then employed 3-D virtual lighting and rendering techniques to view the images on the medals. “It was only supposed to be a small feasibility study to produce an image for an exhibition. However, the results were so astounding that it turned into a full scale research project,” researcher Paul Tafforeau, who produced the images, said in a press release. To read about another seventeenth-century discovery in France, go to "For the Love of a Noblewoman."

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