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Celebrating the UNESCO International Day of Light: Synchrotron Light and Heritage Science

Event Details:

  • Date:       Wednesday 16 May 2018
  • Time:      18:00 - 20:00
  • Venue:    The Cyprus Institute – NTL Events Room, 1st Floor, Athalassa Campus
  • Speaker: Dr Uwe Bergmann, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, USA - and - Dr Loïc Bertrand, IPANEMA, SOLEIL Synchrotron, France
* The lecture will be in English and the event is open to the public.  The event is concluded by a cheese and wine reception.

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On the occasion of the UNESCO International Day of Light, 16 May, The Cyprus Institute organises the event:

Celebrating the UNESCO International Day of Light: Synchrotron Light and Heritage Science

During the event a joint public lecture will be delivered by Dr Uwe Bergmann (SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, USA) and Dr Loïc Bertrand (IPANEMA, SOLEIL Synchrotron, France), followed by a panel discussion.

Dr Uwe Bergmann will speak on the subject of X-ray Fluorescence Imaging of Ancient Materials - From Archimedes to Archaeopteryx and Beyond and Dr Loic Bertrand will speak about A Brief History of Time – When Fast Imaging Shines New Light on Ancient Artefacts.

The UNESCO International Day of Light is a global initiative ( that provides an annual focal point for the continued appreciation of light and the role it plays in science, culture and art, education, and sustainable development, and in fields as diverse as medicine, communications, and energy.

The goal of the International Day of Light is to highlight to the citizens of the world the importance of light and optical technologies in their lives, for their futures and for the development of society.

May 16th also marks a year since the SESAME Synchrotron (, an advanced light source, was officially opened (16 May 2017). Cyprus is a member of SESAME Synchrotron, and The Cyprus Institute and its members are collaborating closely with the SESAME light source.

Dr Uwe Bergmann: X-ray Fluorescence Imaging of Ancient Materials - From Archimedes to Archaeopteryx and Beyond


unesco day of lightThe 10th century parchment document known as the Archimedes Palimpsest, contains the oldest surviving copy of works by the Greek genius Archimedes of Syracuse (287 – 212 BC). To uncover his obscured writings we developed the technique of rapid-scan X-ray fluorescence (XRF) imaging at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource. Since its successful application in the Archimedes project, we further optimized the method over the last decade, enabling us to carry out numerous imaging studies of large objects of cultural, archaeological and paleontological importance.

In this lecture, we will describe the X-ray imaging method and the powerful synchrotron sources that enable these studies. We will present some of the most exciting results of our quest to uncover our cultural and natural heritage. These examples include the imaging of a seventh-century Qur’an palimpsest and a section of the original score of the opera Médée, which was probably overpainted by its composer Luigi Cherubini berfore its premiere in 1797 and the recently imaged Syriac Galen Palimpsest.

Other examples include studies of dino-bird fossils, such as the iconic 150 million-year-old Archaeopteryx and Confuciusornis sanctus, a 120-million-year-old fossil of the oldest documented bird with a fully derived avian beak. Please join us in a fascinating journey through our ancient history, and how powerful modern X-ray methods help us to uncover it.

About the Speaker

Uwe BergmannDr Uwe Bergmann got his PhD in Physics from Stony Brook University and is a Distinguished Staff Scientist at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Principal Investigator at the Stanford PULSE Institute. His research activities focus on the development and application of novel synchrotron, X-ray laser and ultrafast electron techniques.
His scientific interests include studies of the structure of water and aqueous solution, active centers in metalloproteins in particular the photosynthetic splitting of water, hydrocarbons and fossil fuels, functional 2D materials, and imaging of ancient documents and fossils. Bergmann has done his graduate research at the National Synchrotron Light Source and since worked at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource, and the Linac Coherent Light Source, the world's first X-ray free electron laser.

Dr Loïc Bertrand: A Brief History of Time – When Fast Imaging Shines New Light on Ancient Artefacts


The interaction of light with matter leads to a very wide range of photonic analytical methods for the study of materials. In the field of ancient materials from cultural heritage, archaeology and palaeontology, these methods are essential for understanding the origin and history of materials, for diagnosing their present condition and for studying the efficiency of conservation measures and treatments.

We will present how advanced photonic methods have helped to understand the first attested advanced metallurgical shaping by lost wax casting. This recent discovery is based on the observation and study of a ‘fossil’ metallurgical state preserved indirectly for six millennia in a copper-based object recovered in 1985 from the Mehrgarh site in present-day Balochistan, Pakistan. The lost wax casting method is so effective in producing complex and precise shapes that it is still used and developed today. This story takes on a particular flavour in the context of Cyprus, the history of which is closely linked to copper production and trade across the Mediterranean.

The current increase in the use of advanced photonic techniques for the study of ancient systems has led to the development of IPANEMA, a laboratory located on the site of the SOLEIL synchrotron in the Southern Paris region, and of a dedicated X-ray imaging instrument, called PUMA, which starts operation this year. Dozens of ancient systems have been studied at IPANEMA over the past years.

The setting-up of the European Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science, a distributed infrastructure involving 16 countries, and the future capabilities of the new SESAME synchrotron in Jordan, further illustrate new applications for Heritage Science.

About The Speaker

Loic Bertrand

 Dr Loïc Bertrand has a background in physico-chemistry, and since 1999 has dedicated his research activity to the study of materials from archaeology, cultural heritage, palaeo-environments and palaeontology while working at C2RMF (Paris), the University of Cambridge (UK), Laboratoire de physique des solides and the SOLEIL synchrotron facility (Paris-Saclay). Dr Bertrand is the Director of the IPANEMA European research laboratory on ancient materials since 2010. IPANEMA is a joint laboratory of CNRS, the French Ministry of Culture, and the Versailles University located at SOLEIL Synchrotron. IPANEMA is supported by the European Commission and foreign institutions, including the Smithsonian Institution, the NSF of the USA, and the Dutch research funding agency NWO.

Dr Bertrand coordinates the participation of France to the European Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science (E-RIHS) with I. Pallot-Frossard (C2RMF) and he is in charge of the scientific strategy of E-RIHS Europe. He is the coordinator of the Key Research Sector "Matériaux anciens et Patrimoniaux" with E. Anheim (EHESS) and M. Tengberg (AASPE), which gathers 100 laboratories and institutions in the Île-de-France Region.

Dr Bertrand’s research is centred on the study of properties of ancient materials through their full-field and raster-scanning microimaging, via development of methodological approaches based on infrared, UV-visible and X-ray synchrotron radiation. He researches information on the long-term ageing processes and exceptional preservation of biological remains and materials from archaeological systems studied at microscale (micro-taphonomy), on manufacturing techniques used in the past, and on the provenance of raw materials used to produce archaeological artefacts.

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Additional Info

  • Date: Wednesday 16 May 2018
  • Time: Starts 18:00
  • Speakers: Dr Uwe Bergmann (SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, USA) & Dr Loïc Bertrand (IPANEMA, SOLEIL Synchrotron, France)