Call for Papers: International Workshop Relics @ the Lab (Brussels, 27-28 October 2016)

Over the past decade the scientific interest in relics and kindred artefacts has grown enormously. Without any doubt relics as well as relic shrines and associated objects have played a prominent role in European history since the introduction of Christianity. While in the past primary, secondary as well as tertiary relics were merely studied in relation to their religious and (art) historical background, recently the rise of a more scientific and archaeological approach is noticed. Nowadays researchers become more interested in the origin and nature of these sacred objects and ask different questions:

  • What information can relics give us about the people buried in the shrines? Who were these people? What do we know about the way they lived? When did they live? What about diseases and other disabilities?
  • What information can be retrieved from the objects kept with the relics and made of textile, wood, stone or metal. What was their purpose? Are they contemporaneous to the relic or are they older or younger additions? Why would they have been added? How should we preserve them?

Scientists of many different disciplines are involved in the study of relics and kindred artefacts, but till now there was no real forum for these people to exchange ideas and discuss methods. Therefore the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK-IRPA, Brussels) is organising a two-day workshop on the scientific study of relics. 

During this meeting we want to give analytical scientists, textile specialists, conservators, anthropologists, historical researchers, people involved in 3D-reconstruction as well as radiocarbon dating specialists a forum to exchange ideas about relics.

We fully realize that, since no such meeting has ever taken place, the organisation of this symposium is a leap in the dark. We are however convinced of its necessity and cordially invite you to join us at the KIK-IRPA on27-28 October 2016.

Proposals for oral and poster presentations will be accepted until 15 June 2016. The program sessions will be chosen based on the submitted summaries. Proposals should be sent to:

A book with all summaries will be given to the participants, which will contain the contributions/lectures/posters 

The conference will be held in English, each lecture will be a maximum of 20 minutes.
By the 15th of August we will publish a list of presentations.
Poster size should be A0.

For the online registration, payment and submission of abstracts (max. 2 pages), please visit the

Scientific committee:
Mathieu Boudin, Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage
Anique de Kruijf, Museum Catharijneconvent Utrecht
Anton Ervynck, Flanders Heritage Agency
Georges Kazan, University of Oxford
Caroline Polet, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
Jeroen Reyniers, Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage 
Fanny Van Cleven, Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage
Mark Van Strydonck, Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage

For more information see:


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