Boxwood Carvings Are So Small, X-Rays Were Used To Reveal Their Mystery

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    These 500-year-old boxwood carvings are tiny religious pieces created between 1500 and 1530 in Flanders or the Netherlands that require researchers to view them using micro-CT scanning, Advanced 3D analysis Software, and even X-rays.

    A market demand for profitable religious carvings occurred in Europe before the Reformation period (1517-1648). When attempts to reform the Catholic Church and Protestant Churches took hold throughout Europe, church-related accessories were no longer in demand.

    Curators and conservators of Small Wonders: Gothic Boxwood Miniatures an exhibition at The Art Gallery of Ontario used micro-CT scanning and 3D Analysis Software in order to analyze the tiny sculptures within the boxwood.

    Some parts of the sculptures are tinier than grass seed. The production process remains a mystery and traces of gold and other decoration impede X-ray views.

    Researchers took these 500-year-old miniature boxwood carvings to the lab to find out their secrets

    They think these miniatures were made between 1500 and 1530 in Flanders or the Netherlands
    The human eye isn’t able to analyze details this tiny
    So researchers used micro-CT scanning and Advanced 3D Analysis Software
    To find out how intricate the pieces really are

    They found joints in the inner layers so tiny that only a microscope or an X-ray can detect them
    And pins, smaller than a grass seed
    But even the advanced technology couldn’t see everything
    Because traces of gold and other decoration materials conceal the X-ray views
    The miniatures were a result of a rising new social class in Europe that created a demand for these high-quality portable religious carvings
    However, soon the Reformation began and a lot of church-related accessories went out of fashion

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