Mineralogy and cultural heritage
Published:January 01, 2000
Thirty years ago, if one had to speak about the interaction between mineralogy, or even, more generally, between science and Cultural Heritage, one would be in trouble. Almost nothing was done on a serious basis. Most interventions involved “friendly scientists”, who tended to cause problems rather than solve them (Torraca, 1982). Fortunately, in recent years things have changed, as one can see by consulting the ICCROM* on-line bibliographic database on conservation of Cultural Heritage. Many laboratories are now active, and top level scientists, each specialised in a specific domain, deal with a whole array of problems connected to Cultural Heritage. The analytical techniques applied are all those known in chemistry, physics, earth sciences, biology, and engineering. Every day some new method is proposed to investigate unsolved problems. The instrumentation is getting better thus allowing analyses that only a few years ago would have been impossible. All this should allow the scientist more time to think and, fortunately, this is exactly what it is happening. The science of Cultural Heritage is among the fields that has most profited from the “scientific explosion” of recent years.
The role of the scientist involved in any borderline field with respect to the mainstream of his or her discipline is complex. In order to fully take advantage of this position, one might make a list of the problems which still are not solved in the field, and then make a list of the “dream” instruments which could, in principle, solve those problems. It also sometimes
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The writing and production of this volume recognize its potential role as a textbook for courses in “Environmental Mineralogy”, a field that calls on both core mineralogical skills and interdisciplinary understanding across chemical, biological and geological fields. It is an area ideally suited the development of advanced teaching that redefines the boundaries of mineralogy, one of the oldest of the sciences. In that context, this volume fulfils a need defined in the Socrates/Erasmus Programme of the European Union. Sponsorship from the EU in the development of a coordinated European curriculum in mineralogy has been important in bringing this project to fruition, and thus in creating materials for European courses in environmental mineralogy, specifically as an Intensive Programme (lP) which falls at the border between Erasmus CDI and CDA levels.