Art & Archaeology

Video: Movies in glass—the LIFETILES of Rufus Butler Seder

By Lisa McDonald / August 30, 2023

Lenticular printing, or a method to produce printed images that change or move depending on viewing angle, typically uses plastic as the medium. Artist Rufus Butler Seder developed a way to create glass-based lenticular images, and his murals appear in public places around the world.

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Extracting the secrets of ancient masons—Maya plasters owe their strength to plant-induced biomimetic structure

By Lisa McDonald / June 20, 2023

Like Roman concrete, plasters from the ancient Maya civilization are another historical building material that researchers are trying to understand and replicate. In a recent open-access paper, University of Granada researchers used advanced imaging techniques to reveal that the addition of organic molecules to the Maya plasters induced the formation of biomimetic structures, which are likely key to the plaster’s durability.

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Ceramic tablets may help preserve the world’s knowledge for future generations

By Lisa McDonald / June 16, 2023

How can we preserve our knowledge for people living thousands of years in the future? Austrian ceramicist Martin Kunze launched the Memory of Mankind project to record information on ceramic tablets, which will be stored deep within a salt mine to preserve today’s knowledge for future generations.

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Geochemistry provides insight into ceramic production and exchange of ancient Wari civilization

By Lisa McDonald / May 5, 2023

The expansive Wari civilization was the first political structure to unify the south-central and north-central Andes. A new study used ceramic geochemical analysis to learn more about this ancient civilization.

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Copper-glazed ceramic tiles combat bacteria through hydrophobicity and ion dissolution

By Lisa McDonald / April 28, 2023

Antibacterial ceramic coatings that inactivate or destroy pathogens typically suffer from poor durability. Instead, antibacterial coatings based on hydrophobicity, which inhibits bacterial adhesion, may be more durable. Researchers in South Korea demonstrated the potential of copper-glazed ceramic tiles to maintain long-lasting antibacterial efficiency through a combination of hydrophobicity and bacterial killing via ion dissolution.

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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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