Art & Archaeology

MXenes advance the ancient art of calligraphy

By Lisa McDonald / February 10, 2023

Advanced applications are not the only use for advanced materials. A graduate engineering student at Drexel University discovered he could create bleed-free inks for calligraphy using MXenes, a novel 2D material family comprising transition metal carbides and nitrides.

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Video: ‘Clay as Soft Power’ exhibition examines how Shigaraki ware may have helped mend postwar Japanese–U.S. relations

By Lisa McDonald / January 25, 2023

Following World War II, how did Japan and the United States repair their relationship and become as close as they are today? A new exhibition at the University of Michigan Museum of Art examines how Shigaraki ware may have helped transform the U.S. public’s image of Japan.

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Relict no more—purposeful inclusion of lime clasts gives Roman concretes self-healing properties

By Lisa McDonald / January 20, 2023

Traditionally, researchers have considered aggregate-scale lime clasts in Roman concretes to be relicts of the concrete fabrication process. Researchers led by Massachusetts Institute of Technology instead argue that these clasts were purposefully included to provide the concretes with self-healing properties.

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Video: ‘Invisible’ solar roof tiles bring sustainable technology to historical sites

By Lisa McDonald / January 4, 2023

Implementing new sustainable materials and technologies into designated historical sites is complicated by the need to preserve the area’s historical nature. In Italy, managers of a project to improve the safety of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii worked with the owners of a small family-run business to install solar panels that blend into the ancient city’s traditional buildings.

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Preserving photographic plates—the potential role of glass alteration in gelatin delamination

By Lisa McDonald / January 3, 2023

The Animal Locomotion series by Eadweard Muybridge is a set of glass photographic plates that are widely regarded as the immediate predecessor to the development of motion pictures. Researchers from the Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute investigated how formation of an amorphous surface layer on the glass plates due to water exposure can impact delamination of the image-containing gelatin layer.

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Video: Reimagining of ‘Ballet des Porcelaines’ probes the complex cultural work behind the making of porcelain

By Lisa McDonald / November 16, 2022

When art historian Meredith Martin was introduced to an 18th-century ballet that allegorically depicts Europe’s pursuit of porcelain, she knew pursuing a historically accurate reconstruction of the ballet would risk reinforcing harmful racial stereotypes and exoticization of Asian cultures. Instead, she and choreographer Phil Chan conceived of a restaging that would center Asian American experience within this history.

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Mundane objects offer novel insights: Characterization of ancient glass beads provides clues to Middle Age trade networks

By Lisa McDonald / November 15, 2022

Glass beads, though likely considered mundane at the time, now offer rich insight into the Middle Ages. Danish researchers dug deeper into the history of these beads by analyzing glass samples from two different workshops at the historical Ribe trading site in Denmark.

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Video: James Madison’s glass flute graces the stage at Lizzo concert

By Lisa McDonald / October 5, 2022

With more than 100 million items in the Library of Congress collections, it can be difficult for Library staff to showcase all the wonderful items in storage and educate the public on their importance. Last week, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden realized the perfect opportunity to highlight one very special item—a glass flute gifted to U.S. president James Madison—through a collaboration with pop megastar and classically trained flutist Lizzo.

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Video: ‘Shattered glass of Beirut’ exhibit reflects Lebanon’s road to recovery

By Lisa McDonald / August 31, 2022

More than two years have passed since a massive stockpile of ammonium nitrate exploded at the port of Beirut, killing hundreds and displacing thousands in the capital of Lebanon. The restoration of some shattered ancient glass vessels by a collaborative international partnership serves as a microcosm for the larger restoration efforts.

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Pottery probe shows continuity of southeastern Hispaniola cultures

By Lisa McDonald / August 30, 2022

Mona Passage, a strait which separates the islands of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, is believed to have served as a reception area for migration groups during the early Common Era. A recent open-access study contends that despite there being a broader regional network of interaction, the stable manufacturing tradition suggests a cultural continuity in the communities that lived there.

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