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16th Century Boxwood Carvings Are So Miniature Researchers Used X-Ray To Solve Their Mystery

These 500-year-old boxwood miniatures from the 16th century are tiny religious carvings created in Flanders (Netherlands) that require researchers to view them using micro-CT scanning, Advanced 3D analysis Software, and even X-rays.

Market demand for profitable religious 16th-century 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 decorations impede X-ray views.

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

Boxwood Carvings

They think these miniatures were made between 1500 and 1530 in Flanders or the Netherlands

Boxwood Carvings

The human eye isn’t able to analyze details this tiny

Boxwood Carvings

So researchers used micro-CT scanning and Advanced 3D Analysis Software

Boxwood Carvings

To find out how intricate the pieces really are

Boxwood Carvings

They found joints in the inner layers so tiny that only a microscope or an X-ray can detect them

Boxwood Carvings

And pins, smaller than a grass seed

Boxwood Carvings

But even the advanced technology couldn’t see everything

Boxwood Carvings

Because traces of gold and other decoration materials conceal the X-ray views

Boxwood Carvings

The miniatures were a result of a rising new social class in Europe that created a demand for these high-quality portable religious carvings

Boxwood Carvings

However, soon the Reformation began and a lot of church-related accessories went out of fashion

Boxwood Carvings

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