An iron element map (right) made with new X-ray technology reveals the underlying craftsmanship hidden beneath a damaged portrait of a Roman woman (left). | Roberto Alberti

X-Ray Reveals Ancient Roman Portrait Covered in Mt. Vesuvius Ash

The artistry behind an early Roman portrait that went virtually unnoticed for centuries has been uncovered by a new, non-invasive X-ray fluorescence device.

The ELIO device scanning the Roman portrait within the House of the Mosaic Atrium at Herculaneum. | Eleonora Del Federico
Images of the early Roman painting showing the various elements revealed by the macro X-ray fluorescence instrument.
A sketch of the woman in the early Roman painting created with an iron-based pigment. | Roberto Alberti, Eleonora Del Federico