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Raman spectroscopy did not feature in my undergraduate degree in Archaeological Sciences in the 1980s. At the time, Howell Edwards was actively extending research applications of Raman spectroscopy at my alma mater, the University of Bradford, UK, but in the Department of Chemistry in an adjoining building on the campus. Today, thanks to Howell, Peter Vandenabeele and many other researchers, Raman spectroscopy is included in the teaching of a much wider range of degree subjects spanning the archaeological, heritage, environmental and forensic sciences. This is testimony to the versatility of Raman spectroscopy as a diagnostic analytical tool. Furthermore, the research horizons of the technique have continued to expand and this timely follow up to the 2005 volume is welcome.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Raman spectroscopy was acquired by several of the major museum science and conservation laboratories. Following the installation of a Raman microscope in the British Museum in May 1999, the first dedicated conference on Raman Spectroscopy in Art and Archaeology was held in the Museum in November 2001. The technique has been used at the British Museum since then to study minerals, including pigments and gemstones, some organic dyestuffs, corrosion products and so on. The technique is often used in conjunction with other techniques, notably X-ray fluorescence and X-ray diffraction.

The increasing miniaturisation and portability of analytical kit, fuelled by developments in lasers, detectors, filters and more, is exemplified by the diverse situations where Raman is now being deployed. Raman and micro-Raman spectroscopy features in the multi-technique MOLAB or mobile laboratory platform providing access to portable technologies for in situ non-destructive investigation of artworks. Various spectrometers have been used to produce immediate results in the field to guide sampling strategies for ongoing archaeological excavations. Looking ahead to 2020, the Mars microbeam Raman spectrometer, a component of the Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals (SHERLOC), will be mounted on the NASA Mars 2020 Rover and will search for organics and minerals that may be associated with signs of past life on the red planet. Another miniaturised Raman laser spectrometer (RLS) will feature for first-pass analytical screening on board the ESA/IKI Roscosmos ExoMars 2020 mission in the search for life signatures.

The study of our heritage relies on close co-operation between curators, conservators and scientists. All techniques must be subject to continuous critical evaluation so that the advantages, disadvantages and implications are understood clearly. I am delighted to see this second volume extending the applicability of Raman spectroscopy to a wider range of topics and themes in cultural heritage.

Carl Heron

Director of Scientific Research

The British Museum, London, UK

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