Guest post from Richard Brereton, Editor-in-Chief of Heritage Science, a new open access journal from Chemistry Central.
After the Second World War, up to the 1970s, there was a cataclysmic mass destruction of our cultural heritage, especially in European and American countries. In my city of Bristol, once the second city in England and a historic capital in the twelfth century, you may not appreciate from a first visit the huge historic importance. It is said that post-war planners destroyed more of Bristol than bombs in the war, with their vision of a concrete city. Great regions of Victorian and Georgian houses were demolished to make way for roads, hastily built concrete shops, and tower blocks. Right up to the 1970s, this was regarded as progress.
Destruction was huge and irreversible around the world. Consider Angkor Wat in Cambodia – it, together with much of the religious heritage in Cambodia, was neglected for decades until economic and political stability returned. Now it is a major UNESCO site.
So what happened from the 1970s onwards? People started looking back at their heritage. Much was buried in museums, religious institutes, neglected private houses and so on, and the money to restore them often had to be found from public purses. But conservation and preservation gradually became the order of the day.
And as more and more places are opening up, they uncover a vast wealth of information that can provide a rich story about the culture and inhabitants of the region. There will be hoards of coins sitting in cupboards in museums, and millions of paintings (the Hermitage in St Petersburg has 3 million or more) sitting in archives, many rarely if ever displayed over the years. This everyday history can tell us a lot about a civilisation.
Scientific methods have been employed with great effect to study the provenance of culturally important objects. By examining the pigments in a painting can we tell how it was painted, where it was painted and even whether it is a forgery? By looking at dyes in a textile can we find out about the origin of manufacture and the geographical route it took to get to its destination? By analysing the metal content of a coin can we tell the economic factors of the time?
Hence we feel there is a need for a journal that involves using scientific techniques to study our cultural heritage. The new journal Heritage Science emphasizes the use of scientific methods for the study of our heritage. As can be seen from a glance at the journal there is a glittering international quality Editorial Board. The journal is deliberately not Eurocentric to ensure that we get a full range of international contributors, looking to the future where scientific methods will rapidly expand throughout the world.
Our scope is somewhat broad although all papers must be based upon sound scientific methodology and be applied to problems of cultural significance. The journal also interfaces with archaeology so long as the paper is primarily scientific rather than descriptive in nature and the findings can be put in context of human development. But a major theme is conservation whether in museums or buildings, and an interface between academics and those such as museum curators or conservators or historians.
We are already getting tremendous support from our editorial board and look forward to some exciting papers for 2013.
Heritage Science is now accepting submissions. Manuscripts can be submitted via our online submission system, or for more information contact the editorial team at firstname.lastname@example.org.