Material Culture and Heritage (CERVITRUM)

Researcher in charge: Mª Ángeles Villegas Broncano


The research group “Material Culture and Heritage (CERVITRUM)” is a multi and interdisciplinary group currently formed by chemists and historians. It was created in the National Center for Metallurgical Research (CENIM-CSIC) in 2002. After a research activity of more than five years in the CENIM, the group moved to the Institute of History, in July 2007, in the new Center of Human and Social Sciences (CCHS-CSIC). This group is attached to the Department of History of Art and Heritage.

The research activities of the group are focused on Cultural Heritage. These activities are carried out on the basis of three lines of research:

  1. Chemical-physical characterization of inorganic materials (glasses, metals, ceramics, etc.).
  2. Study and diagnosis of degradation processes.
  3. Preventive conservation strategies.

With the application of chemical-physical characterization techniques to inorganic materials their production technology, the characteristics of their raw materials, and their state of conservation is determined.

From the point of view of basic research, the group focuses its objectives on the study and diagnosis of decay, degradation, and corrosion processes of materials, either for natural weathering (in air, in soil or in aqueous medium) or through accelerated ageing or simulated processes in the laboratory.

Also, the group’s interest are aimed at the development of preventive conservation strategies to prevent future alteration or degradation of materials, for a better valorization and dissemination of the Cultural Heritage from which they are part. Preventive conservation is accomplished through environmental sensors based on the sol-gel methodology. The design, preparation, and study of such chemical sensors of optical response are carried out to evaluate the pH (acidity) and other environmental parameters, such as temperature and relative humidity. From the point of view of the protection of Cultural Heritage materials, the group develops investigations on active coatings, with corrosion inhibitors and other reactive and/or sensing phases.


Website of the research group