Ars Technica: What’s eating this 400-year-old painting? A whole ecosystem of microbes

Ars Technica: What’s eating this 400-year-old painting? A whole ecosystem of microbes. “If you could zoom in for a microscopic look at an oil painting on canvas, you would see many thin, overlapping layers of pigments—powdered bits of insects, plants, or minerals—held together with oils or glue made from animal collagens. Many of those pigments and binding materials are surprisingly edible to bacteria and fungi. Each patch of color and each layer of paint and varnish in an oil painting offers a different microbial habitat. So when you look at a painting, you’re not just looking at a work of art; you’re looking at a whole ecosystem.”

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