Analytical chemistry in the field of cultural heritage
This review covers past and present developments of analytical chemistry in the field of Cultural Heritage (CH), from the methods of characterization of materials to the procedures aiming at diagnosing the state of conservation of CH assets. A large number of analytical methodologies and tools (molecular and elemental spectroscopic techniques, chemometrics, chemical reactivity and modeling, etc.) are now available to define: (a) the impacts of environmental stressors (natural and anthropogenic), (b) the decaying (chemical reactions) pathways of such materials in the surrounding environment, (c) the development of new remediation (cleaning, consolidation, rehabilitation, etc.) processes based on the chemical knowledge and (d) the transfer of such knowledge to conservation departments in museums and companies working in the field of CH. Two important issues are highlighted in this review. One is the important role of analytical chemistry in this field, although its role was forgotten until a few decades ago; nowadays there are hundreds of papers demonstrating the important role of analytical chemistry practitioners in many kinds of CH actions. The other is the societal impact of the issues related to the study of heritage (i.e., rock art paintings, Pompeii, paintings in medieval churches, famous artists, etc.) where analytical chemists are key professionals especially if portable instruments are used in field work. Finally a special consideration will be paid to future developments and how analytical chemistry can give added value to the research in CH.