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Proceedings Paper

Spectral control in laser restoration of archaeological treasurers
Author(s): John F. Asmus
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Paper Abstract

When created in 210 BC, the 6,000 terra cotta warriors of the Mount Li tomb near the ancient imperial Chinese capital city of Xi'an were emblazoned with dramatic colors. Previously, it had been thought that this polychrome glaze had been entirely consumed in an inferno that swept the tomb shortly after its completion. Careful manual control of laser divestment experiments on the statues during the archaeological excavation of the site has revealed that faint charred vestiges of the original polychromatic glaze still exist. Unfortunately, as a consequence of the long burial, the terra cotta statues with their cooked polychrome glazes are encased in tenacious mineral deposits. Consequently, laser removal of the mineral encrustation requires tedious human implementation in order to avoid damaging the very delicate underlying statue surfaces. A real-time spectral control system for precise automated laser cleaning of archaeological objects is described. It has improved the results, accelerated the process, and relieved the operator tedium in the recovery of this Qin Dynasty polychrome as well as in the cleaning of ancient coins from other archaeological sites.

Paper Details

Date Published: 14 October 1994
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 2273, Ultrahigh- and High-Speed Photography, Videography, and Photonics '94, (14 October 1994); doi: 10.1117/12.189028
Show Author Affiliations
John F. Asmus, Univ. of California/San Diego (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 2273:
Ultrahigh- and High-Speed Photography, Videography, and Photonics '94
George A. Kyrala; Donald R. Snyder, Editor(s)

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