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Idol scans

An inside view of a holy statue.

Credit: HERITAGE CONSERVATION INST.

A precious eighteenth-century statue of Christ, Cristo de la Peña, that is carried in religious processions in the small town of Guadassuar, Spain, has been investigated by a novel form of imaging.

Ignasi Gironés Sarri and Vicente Guerola Blay of the Heritage Conservation Institute in nearby Valencia are the first to use computerized multi-slice tomography on an artefact. The technique allows far more detailed three-dimensional imaging than normal computerized axial tomography. The results (pictured) show that the 1.5-metre-long figure was carved almost totally from a single piece of wood; only the arms and face were added on. Most statues of this era were made with separately carved legs.

The scan also shows that the artist reduced the weight of the sculpture by having a cavity in the torso, to make it lighter for those who had to carry it.

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