Radiography in Archaeology
It was scarcely more than a century ago, in 1895, that the German scientist
Wilhelm Röntgen first discovered the existence of x-rays and their ability to penentrate through materials with
some ease. It was but two short steps from that discovery to show that these invisible rays would darken the
chemicals then being studied in the making of camera film, and that x-rays offered a unique non-invasive means
of looking at the internal structure of all kinds of objects.
Röntgen thought up many ways to satisfy the immediate popular demand for demonstration of what this new technology
could do, but none proved more effective than his study of a Ptolemaic mummy bundle of a sacrificed cat that showed
the animal's bone structure in fine detail. Since that time, radiography has become one of the most widely used techniques
in archaeology, both for determination of an artifact's method of construction, and as an aid to creating a proper
conservation strategy for sculpture in many media. X-rays also have become a vital investigative tool in the study
of the architecture of ancient human skeletons, and the occasional abnormalities of growth that such bones display
in circumstances of nutritional stress, or when damaged by diseases such as syphilis, cancer, and rickets.