Relics at the lab

Over the past decade the scientific interest in relics and kindred artefacts has grown enormously. Without any doubt relics as well as relic shrines and associated objects have played a prominent role in European history since the introduction of Christianity. While in the past primary, secondary as well as tertiary relics were merely studied in relation to their religious and (art) historical background, recently the rise of a more scientific and archaeological approach is noticed. Nowadays researchers become more interested in the origin and nature of these sacred objects and ask different questions:
  • What information can relics give us about the people buried in the shrines? Who were these people? What do we know about the way they lived? When did they live? What about diseases and other disabilities?
  • What information can be retrieved from the objects kept with the relics and made of textile, wood, stone or metal. What was their purpose? Are they contemporaneous to the relic or are they older or younger additions? Why would they have been added? How should we preserve them?
Scientists of many different disciplines are involved in the study of relics and kindred artefacts, but till now there was no real forum for these people to exchange ideas and discuss methods. Therefore the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK-IRPA, Brussels) is organising a two-day workshop on the scientific study of relics.
During this meeting we want to give analytical scientists, textile specialists, conservators, anthropologists, historical researchers, people involved in 3D-reconstruction as well as radiocarbon dating specialists a forum to exchange ideas about relics.
A full length paper will be published, so you can catch up with what you missed, in case you couldn't come.