X-ray computed tomography (XCT) and chemical analysis (EDX and XRF) used in conjunction for cultural conservation: the case of the earliest scientifically described dinosaur Megalosaurus bucklandii

Heritage Science. 2018;6(1):1-14 DOI 10.1186/s40494-018-0223-0


Journal Homepage

Journal Title: Heritage Science

ISSN: 2050-7445 (Online)

Publisher: SpringerOpen

LCC Subject Category: Fine Arts | Science: Chemistry: Analytical chemistry

Country of publisher: United Kingdom

Language of fulltext: English

Full-text formats available: PDF, HTML, ePUB



P. F. Wilson (Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG)-University of Warwick)

M. P. Smith (Oxford University Museum of Natural History (OUMNH)-University of Oxford)

J. Hay (Oxford University Museum of Natural History (OUMNH)-University of Oxford)

J. M. Warnett (Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG)-University of Warwick)

A. Attridge (Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG)-University of Warwick)

M. A. Williams (Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG)-University of Warwick)


Blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 19 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

Abstract This paper demonstrates the combined use of X-ray computed tomography (XCT), energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) and X-ray fluorescence (XRF) to evaluate the conservational history of the dentary (lower jaw) of Megalosaurus bucklandii Mantell, 1827, the first scientifically described dinosaur. Previous analysis using XCT revealed that the specimen had undergone at least two phases of repair using two different kinds of plaster, although their composition remained undetermined. Additional chemical analysis using EDX and XRF has allowed the determination of the composition of these unidentified plasters, revealing that they are of similar composition, composed dominantly of ‘plaster of Paris’ mixed with quartz sand and calcite, potentially from the matrix material of the Stonesfield Slate, with the trace presence of chlorine. One of the plasters unusually contains the pigment minium (naturally occurring lead tetroxide; Pb2 2+Pb4+O4) whilst the other seems to have an additional coating of barium hydroxide (Ba(OH)2), indicating that these likely represent two separate stages of repair. The potential of this combined approach for evaluating problematic museum objects for conservation is further discussed as is its usage in cultural heritage today.