UNCERTIR – Uncertainty of lifetime modelling based on quantitative IR spectroscopy


The need for evidence-based tools that enable conservation scenario modelling has become increasingly relevant to address the complex challenge of conservation, especially in times of climate change. Recently, non-destructive methods of analysis and dose-response functions have provided a step-change in response to this need. Infrared (IR) spectroscopy combined with data science has been successfully applied in the quantitative determination of chemical and physical properties of many heritage materials of organic origin, providing crucial data for their characterisation. Based on this data, dose-response functions allow for the evaluation and comparison of the likely preservation outcomes achievable through different management options. However, there is still a lack of systematic research about the uncertainty associated with both demographic modelling and non-destructive analyses. The EU-funded UNCERTIR project aims to explore this uncertainty.

Figure 1: Analysis of 17th century manuscript “Breviarium
(Istituzione Biblioteca Classense, Italy)

Figure 2: Analysis of paper sample through FTIR spectroscopy

UNCERTIR will investigate the contributions to the overall uncertainty which could originate from different sources (e.g., the large inhomogeneity typical of the heritage materials, methods of spectral data collection, pre-processing techniques and multivariate regression models, lifetime modelling). Specifically, we intend to explore the uncertainty using classical and Bayesian statistics, the latter has never been applied in this field of research.

A clearer understanding of the uncertainty will enable a broader use and acceptance of both modelling and IR spectroscopy-based quantitative methods within heritage institutions, and this, importantly, will support prospective preservation planning.

Figure 3: Word cloud of the UNCERTIR project

Partnership and Advisory Board

The project will be carried out by Dr Floriana Coppola, joining the Heritage Science Lab Ljubljana from the University of Bologna (Italy), under the mentorship of Prof. Matija Strlič.

The UNCERTIR project is funded in the framework of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (H2020), and involves partnerships with the National and University Library of Slovenia (Narodna in univerzitetna knjižnica, NUK) and the German company Zentrum für Bucherhaltung GmbH (ZFB GmbH), where case studies on heritage materials will be carried out.

The UNCERTIR Advisory Board includes Dr Jasna Malesič (senior researcher at NUK), Dr Manfred Anders (CEO of ZFB GmbH), Dr Claudio Conversano, (professor at the Department of Economics and Business Sciences of the University of Cagliari), Dr Josep Grau-Bové (professor at the Institute for Sustainable Heritage of the University College London), and Dr Jernej Markelj (research assistant at the Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology of the University of Ljubljana).

Please contact Floriana for further information or to establish collaboration.

Scientific achievements:

  • COPPOLA Floriana, FRIGAU Luca, MARKELJ Jernej, MALEŠIČ Jasna, CONVERSANO Claudio, STRLIČ Matija. Machine learning and NIR spectroscopy for dating of books. Technart: Non-destructive and microanalytical techniques in art and cultural heritage : book of abstracts : International conference on analytical techniques in art and cultural heritage, 7.-12. May 2023, Lisbon. [COBISS.SI-ID 152898051]
  • COPPOLA Floriana, FRIGAU Luca, MARKELJ Jernej, MALEŠIČ Jasna, CONVERSANO Claudio, STRLIČ Matija. Near-infrared spectroscopy and machine learning for accurate dating of historical books. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2023, p. A-J. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/jacs.3c02835 [COBISS.SI-ID 153177603]
  • COPPOLA Floriana. S spektorskopijo in strojnim učenjem do natančne določitve starosti papirja. Delo, 15. June 2023, vol. 65, no. 136, pp. 14. https://www.delo.si/novice/znanoteh/s-spektroskopijo-in-strojnim-ucenjem-do-natancne-dolocitve-starosti-papirja/ [COBISS.SI-ID 157754371]
  • SLAČEK Nina, COPPOLA Floriana, STRLIČ Matija. Kaj lahko razkrije papir, česar ne pove besedilo. Radiotelevizija Slovenija javni zavor, 2023. https://prvi.rtvslo.si/podkast/intelekta/49/174976949 [COBISS.SI-ID 161965827]
  • COPPOLA Floriana. Verba volanta, scripta manent? Indagine sui processi di degradazione della carta nelle collezioni librarie della Biblioteca Classense, 18. December 2021, Biblioteca Classense, Ravenna, Italy. [COBISS.SI-ID 120027651]
  • COPPOLA Floriana. Historical library collection survey and long-term preservation planning. Novosti v knjižničarstvu, 5. November 2021, Zoom. [COBISS.SI-ID 119893251]

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *