Art historians and scientists use a variety of physical and chemical techniques to make discoveries and answer questions about art and artefacts. Explore some of them here.

Practical resources


Analysis of cave paintings

In this practical, student gain an understanding of how cave painters may have used the natural rock formation to paint the animals and scenes onto them and how later painters have continued with this tradition.


Making concrete

In this experiment, students determine how different sized materials with binder increase the stability and strength of mortar and concrete. Also, students can test how altering the proportions of cement, water and different aggregates affects concrete’s properties.


Plaster of Paris

In this experiment, students produce Plaster of Paris, which they then use to produce a cast, in order to identify the items that have left an impression in an apple.


Verdigris copper

In this experiment, students deliberately corrode copper, to produce a pigment called verdigris. Students can then explain their observations using their knowledge of redox reactions.


Magic writing with sodium nitrate solution

In this experiment, students write a hidden message using invisible ink and watch what happens when a glowing splint touches their message.


Invisible inks

In this experiment, students test a variety of substances to see if they can be used as an invisible ink.


Making marbled paper

In this practical, students create a marble effect on paper, using their knowledge of mixtures and hydrophobic solutions to explain the phenomena. Also, students use their evaluating skills to determine which method produces the best result.


Water drop art

In this practical, students observe and report what happens when water is placed on waxed paper, and a splint or toothpick is positioned close to the droplets.


Ancient inks

In this practical, students use methods which have been used for centuries to produce inks.


Making and using blueprint paper

Blueprints use the cyanotype process invented by the astronomer John Herschel in 1842. In this experiment you will carry out an experiment to produce blueprint paper and produce an image or diagram using the blueprint paper. 

Two black wires being soldered together using a soldering iron

Making solder as an alloy of tin and lead

In association with

Try this practical to make solder by heating together the metals tin and lead before investigating the alloy’s properties. Includes kit list and safety instructions.

All resources

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    The emergence of new techniques and pigments

    The emergence of new techniques and pigments within Greek art

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    Ancient Greek art

    The Classical Greek period heralded an age in which thought and art flourished.

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    Roman glass and its chemistry

    Roman glass is found all over the Roman Empire, but how different is it?

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    Roman art - wall painting techniques

    Pompeii and Herculaneum have been described as towns frozen in time. Houses and villas with their furniture, food, people, jewellery and pets have been preserved.  One thing that strikes all visitors to Pompeii and Herculaneum is the amount of colour on the walls of the buildings. It is perhaps the most obvious feature of Roman art.

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    Ancient Roman art: an imitation of Greek art?

    A traditionally accepted view of ancient Roman art is they borrowed from, and copied, Greek precedents. The picture, however, is more complex and recent archaeological research indicates Roman art is highly creative.

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    Were Ancient Greek statues white or coloured?

    Renaissance artists studied the sculptures and monuments of Greece and Rome and emulated them in their own work, ie they imitated the art. This perspective of art has echoed down the centuries to influence the appearance of Western art and architecture today.

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    Egyptian myths

    The Egyptians developed a world view in which events and conditions were attributed to the actions of multiple, related gods and goddesses. Here are some of those stories.

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    Egyptian materials and pigments

    Ancient Egyptian artists are known for developing a wider range of materials for their art.This resource looks at the pigments and materials the Egyptians used to create their art.

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    Conservation of Egyptian art

    The ethical questions of whether ancient works of art should be be conservered or restored are investigated with this resource.

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    Egyptian art

    To understand and appreciate Egyptian art one must look at the beginnings of art in Egypt and how it developed, for in that development lay the roots of many ideas and techniques. This resources explores this development.

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    Dangers to cave art

    How can cave art be damaged?

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    Style in cave paintings

    How does the style of cave art change around the world?