Welcome to the laboratory LATHEMA (Laboratory of Technologies for Heritage Materials)


Our objectives

Researches in our laboratory are focused on the preservation of cultural heritage by the use of biotechnologies.

Often considered as harmful for the cultural heritage, microorganisms can also be used for their preservation. Indeed, more and more researches are done on biotechnologies in the conservation field. They are more respectful of the environment (ambient temperature, atmospheric pressure, neutral pH) and can be used without any toxic material. Progresses are expected regarding the stability, efficiency and toxicity. For the last decades, the development of theses biologic methods is becoming an interesting alternative concerning the conservation and preservation of cultural heritage. Furthermore, biotechnologies have shown their results in different fields, as bioremediation or the evaluation of the corrosion. More precisely, several bacteria found in the ground have been report as a treatment for the conservation of ornament stone, proving the opportunities of this alternative. Microorganisms offer many possibilities in the conservation and preservation field. Their efficiency are evaluated on metallic and organic objects in our laboratory.


Bois archéologique
(Photograph courtesy of the archaeological service of Canton Bern, Switzerland)


Image au microscope 
(© University of Neuchâtel)  


  (© Vasa Museum Stockholm)


•  Archaeology : bacteria against rust

2017, March 28th –  A team of Swiss chemists and microbiologists have shown that a species of anaerobic bacterium can inhibit corrosion on archeological artifacts made of iron. The research is published March 10 in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

Contact : Pr Edith Joseph, Laboratory of Technologies for Heritage Materials, +41 32 718 22 35

Pr Pilar Junier, Laboratory of Microbiology, +41 32 718 22 44


To know more : Bibliography:

Comensoli L, Maillard J, Albini M, Sandoz F, Junier P, Joseph E. 2017
Use of Bacteria to Stabilize Archaeological Iron.
Appl Environ Microbiol 83: e03478-16.

 French communiqué