IPERION HSIntegrating Platforms for the European Research Infrastructure ON Heritage Science

The British Museum

The Department of Scientific Research curates a substantial print and digital archive of scientific reports, including analytical data and images arising from hundreds of research and collection care projects over many decades since the laboratory was established in 1920. The department has a distinguished record in the analysis of diverse inorganic materials including metals, glass, ceramics, stone and pigments. Over the last 20 years, a wide range of organic materials has been studied and identified using microscopy. This includes wood and charcoal, textiles and fibres, leather and organic hard tissues (shell, bone, horn, ivory, antler). Through the application of analytical organic chemistry, a diverse group of amorphous organic substances have been investigated. This includes plant resin, tar, pitch, bitumen, dyestuffs and food residues. The applications of scientific research across the collection are driven by the Museum’s research priorities: 1.How objects can be best cared for in order to ensure their preservation for future generations of researchers and the general public; 2. How the 'lives' of objects – from their making, use, reception, loss, collection and later use – can contribute to their understanding; 3. How objects can reveal the social, cultural, religious, creative, economic and political history of their makers, users, owners, depositors and collectors; How objects and their histories can most effectively be presented, exhibited and explored through different media and forms of public and learning programmes. The documentation includes reports deploying a range of scientific data and images across the Museum collection. This includes various types of technical images, produced by optical, digital, metallographic and petrographic microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, multispectral imaging, X-radiography and, more recently, CT scanning. Chromatographic and spectral analytical data derives from the use of AAS, XRF, XRD, SEM-EDX, FTIR, Raman, GC-MS and LC-MS. Other reports use a range of other techniques, including microfadometry. Recent ARCHLAB visits under IPERION-CH include: Archaeometric re-examination of Roman pottery from Algeria; Looking for lead white: establishing a carbon isotopes database for dating and identifying pigment; Study of the methodologies for stiffness improvement in iron and steel metal artifacts: purification and multilayered structures; Study of the methodologies for stiffness improvement in iron and steel metal artifacts: purification and multilayered structures.


  • Cultural & natural heritage

  • Cultural heritage

    archaeological object and site, architecture, art, decorative arts, demo anthropologic object, film, manuscript, mosaics, musical instrument, other (free search), painting, photo, sculpture, textile

  • Natural heritage

    animal product, botanic collection, Fossil, mineral, object in formalin, other, Shell, Skeleton, taxidermy collection


  • inorganic

    glass, metal and metallurgical By-Products, stone

  • organic

    animal parts, binding media, glues, paper, textiles, varnishes, wood