Real-time identification and visualization of Egyptian blue using modified night vision goggles


imageThe possibility to use light in the visible spectrum to induce near-infrared luminescence in some materials, particularly Egyptian blue and related pigments, offers a significant advantage in terms of their detection.Since 2008 this property has been exploited to reveal their presence even in tiny amounts on ancient and decayed surfaces, using a technical-photography method.This paper presents a new type of imaging device that enables real-time, easy, and inexpensive identification and mapping of Egyptian blue and related materials.The potential of the new tool is demonstrated by showing its effectiveness in detecting Egyptian blue within some prestigious sites: a) Egyptian findings at Museo Egizio, Turin, b) underground Roman frescoes at Domus Aurea, Rome, and c) Renaissance frescoes by Raphael, Triumph of Galatea and Loggia of Cupid and Psyche, at Villa Farnesina, Rome.The device is based on night vision technology and allows an unprecedented fast, versatile, and user-friendly approach.It is employable by professionals including archaeologists, conservators, and conservation scientists, as well as by un-trained individuals such as students or tourists at museums and sites.The overall aim is not to replace existing photographic techniques but to develop a tool that enables rapid preliminary recognition, useful for planning the work to be carried out with conventional methods.

The ability to immediately track Egyptian blue and related pigments, through real-time vision, photos, and videos, provide also a new kind of immersive experience (Blue Vision) and can foster the modern use of these materials in innovative applications and future technologies..

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