S&T Innovation Plays Big Role for Belt and Road Cultural Conservation

Dec 30, 2021

China-Greece Belt and Road Joint Laboratory on Cultural Heritage Conservation Technology was launched on December 21 at the Palace Museum of China to promote S&T collaboration on cultural heritage protection in both countries.

The joint laboratory, led by the Palace Museum and the Institute of Electronic Structure and Laser which is affiliated to FORTH (IESL-FORTH), involves 11 agencies covering research institutes, enterprises, and museums from Greece and China, among which the Aerospace Information Research Institute (AIR)under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) , with its research advantages in the field s of laser technology and hyper-spectral imaging technology, is expected to play a big role in support of cultural heritage conservation.

The use of laser-based techniques to preserve cultural heritage have clear advantages such as analysis, diagnosis, and the treatment of artworks. Laser cleaning of stone sculptures is considered even routine in some conservation sites.

The collaboration between AIR and the Palace Museum started from 2018. The collaborative research focused on laser cleaning of stone, bronze, ceramics, and other cultural relics at the museum, and even the walls of the Forbidden City.

Hyperspectral imaging technology is capable of non-invasive evaluation and can provide information unobtainable by other means. With the use of it, the conservation experts will be able to collect a vast array of chemical information with respect to pigments, substrates, materials, and unseen features.

In this field, AIR and the Palace Museum have been conducting joint research since 2014, with the aim of applying this technology for  cultural heritage identification, protection, and restoration.

The joint laboratory will serve as an international platform for multidisciplinary collaborative innovation and resource sharing, on which AIR's research will help unlock the secrets behind historical artworks, artifacts and documents at the museums of China and Greece, the two nations boasting ancient civilizations.

The laboratory is part of the Belt and Road Science, Technology and Innovation Cooperation Action Plan which consists of the Science and Technology People-to-People Exchange Initiative, the Joint Laboratory Initiative, the Science Park Cooperation Initiative, and the Technology Transfer Initiative.

A group photo of Chinese representatives at the launching ceremony.  (Image by AIR)