Teens in Naples collaborate on the restoration of early Christian catacombs in their city.

When Don Antonio Loffredo arrived here about a decade ago, he found three levels of frescoes, chapels and cubicles beneath the neighborhood’s trash-strewn streets. It’s a burial ground that dates to the 2nd century, the largest of its kind in southern Italy. But back then, tourists only wound up in this part of town by mistake.

Loffredo saw an opportunity. “We took kids with one foot in the streets and one foot in the church, so to speak,” he says. Some of them even came from mafia families. “I can say this because your audience is far away,” he adds. “It could easily be the case that the sons of a boss are here, and one of them has nothing to do with the mafia”.

Loffredo says crime families often feel trapped by a life they were born into, and are eager to find alternatives for their kids. So he put them to work fixing up the seriously neglected catacombs. Mud and dirt covered much of the floor; an old lighting system left much of the artwork in shadows; and a store room had been stuffed with waste and old equipment from a nearby hospital. All of it had to go.

"When we started they were 16-year-olds. Now they’re in their 20s, and they’re paid because they are entrepreneurs. It’s not hard to offer alternatives to crime if you’re creative and available," he says. And after fixing up the Catacombs, they went to work in management, the ticket office, and as guides.

Sadly, the University of York lacks a Classics department. This would have been a very easy mistake to catch.
brooklynmuseum
brooklynmuseum:

An Egyptian painted mummy shroud is undergoing an exciting conservation treatment. Over the next few months, Rita Berg will be discussing various stages along the way. Our last post focused on microscopic examination. Today’s post will address the identification of Egyptian blue using visual-induced luminescence (VIL).
Egyptian blue is one of the earliest known synthetic pigments, first produced around 2500 BC. Its brilliant color is often seen in decorative blue glazes of ancient Egyptian ceramics. The pigment was also used in wall paintings, panel paintings, and textile decoration. The unique luminescent properties of Egyptian blue in the near-infrared spectrum of light can be used to identify even the smallest traces of the pigment in works of art.
This technique is called visual-induced luminescence (VIL) and involves shining a bright LED light onto the surface of an artwork and taking a photograph using a camera that has had its filters altered to be sensitive to the near-infrared region of light waves (approximately 910 nanometers).  To the naked eye, the artwork appears normal, but the specially filtered camera captures the intensely bright emission produced by Egyptian blue in the near-infrared region.

Posted by Rita Berg

brooklynmuseum:

An Egyptian painted mummy shroud is undergoing an exciting conservation treatment. Over the next few months, Rita Berg will be discussing various stages along the way. Our last post focused on microscopic examination. Today’s post will address the identification of Egyptian blue using visual-induced luminescence (VIL).

Egyptian blue is one of the earliest known synthetic pigments, first produced around 2500 BC. Its brilliant color is often seen in decorative blue glazes of ancient Egyptian ceramics. The pigment was also used in wall paintings, panel paintings, and textile decoration. The unique luminescent properties of Egyptian blue in the near-infrared spectrum of light can be used to identify even the smallest traces of the pigment in works of art.

This technique is called visual-induced luminescence (VIL) and involves shining a bright LED light onto the surface of an artwork and taking a photograph using a camera that has had its filters altered to be sensitive to the near-infrared region of light waves (approximately 910 nanometers).  To the naked eye, the artwork appears normal, but the specially filtered camera captures the intensely bright emission produced by Egyptian blue in the near-infrared region.

Posted by Rita Berg

Could all the pharaohs read and write? Only 1-3 percent of the inhabitants of ancient Egypt mastered this exceptionally difficult art. Evidence of literacy of the rulers of Egypt are perhaps not numerous, but clear, argues Filip Taterka, Egyptologist, a doctoral student at the Institute of Prehistory, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań.

"The most famous Egyptian text that speaks of the royal literacy is the Prophecy of Neferti. It is a story concerning the first king of the fourth dynasty - Sneferu. In the story, the ruler writes down the words of Neferti - the wise man from the East- on papyrus. Although this story can not be treated as proof of literacy of Sneferu himself, since it was created a thousand years after his reign, it clearly shows that at least in the time of the 12th dynasty, the Egyptians could imagine such a situation" - believes Taterka.

Evidence of the Pharaohs literacy is - according to the Egyptologist - rich clerical equipment found by Howard Carter in the tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings, which according to the discoverer, bears traces of use, dating back to the period of education of the young king.

"Future pharaohs often held high administrative positions. Any function within the state administration in ancient Egypt was associated with the absolute necessity of knowledge of the letter. Without this, they would not be able to perform their duties" - said the Egyptologist.

More at the link.