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Condition and characterization analysis of a twentieth century cultural heritage through non-destructive testing (NDT) methods: the case of the Sivas industry school ironworking atelier in Turkey


Before the conservation and restoration of many types of cultural heritage, it is necessary to perform careful examination. This study aimed to determine the original building state and deterioration by applying non-destructive testing (NDT) methods in the case of a heritage building. Another goal was to determine, via NDT methods, whether the limestones observed in this study of different forms, colours, and textures were truly different. The Sivas Industry School Ironworking Atelier, which constitutes the research object, is one of the important public buildings in the city of Sivas, Turkey. Within the scope of the study, non-destructive infrared thermography (IRT), Schmidt hammer rebound (SHR) tests, and X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy were applied. Accordingly, through IRT, deteriorations, anomalies, and material differences were investigated, and via SHR testing, uniaxial compressive strength (UCS) estimates, strength levels and hardness classes of stones were obtained. Moreover, via XRF spectroscopy, characterization analysis of stones was conducted. The data obtained could provide information to establish a basis for subsequent conservation. The innovation of this study is that although the infrared thermography technique is typically used in the investigation of materials, it was revealed that another technique such as XRF analysis is needed to better determine whether stones that seem different based on IRT are actually different. With IRT technique, anomaly and material detorioration can be determined. In addition to these two techniques, SHR tests that are non-destructive methods are needed to think about mechanical features of the material. Therefore, when determining the conditions and for characterization analysis of a cultural heritage before restoration, different techniques should be jointly used to complement each other.


Sustainable preservation of cultural heritage can be ensured through periodic maintenance and repair activities. With maintenance and simple repairs, such as periodically checking rain gutters, immediately removing leaves, shrubs, soil, bird droppings, etc., accumulated in gutters, immediately reinstalling dislodged tiles, renovating corroded chains, repairing roof damage, repainting in the case of paint and whitewash problems, plaster crack filling, cleaning the façade using the appropriate method in the presence of pollution, building problems can be solved in a timely manner, without the need for major repairs. Thus, less building intervention will be required, and lower costs will be incurred.

However, in cases where periodic maintenance is not conducted due to the inability to allocate funds or budget inadequacy, apathy, lack of adequate technical personnel in organizations responsible for maintenance, and difficulty due to legal procedures, deterioration of buildings can ensue. In some cases, deterioration occurs due to reasons arising from the first construction phase of the building, or nearby new constructions, well drilling/closure, road construction, tunnel construction, heavy vehicle traffic, air pollution, user interventions, obsolete or improper installations, vandalism, terrorism, natural disasters, fires, and exposure to long-term atmospheric conditions, regardless of periodic maintenance [1].

The determination of cultural heritage deterioration is important to implement appropriate safeguards, to stop the deterioration process, or to eliminate deterioration. Correct solution suggestions should be obtained via accurate examination and diagnosis. There are numerous test methods for deterioration detection, destructive or non-destructive. Considering that the building in question is a cultural heritage, the historical value, evidential value, artistic (aesthetic) value, authenticity, and integrity of the building must be preserved.

Today, restoration specialists also recommend non-destructive testing (NDT) methods. Some of the NDT techniques are X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, raman spectroscopy, terahertz (THz) technology, infrared thermography, flash thermography sound absorption, sonic/ultrasonic, electromagnetic and electrical techniques, Schmidt Hammer Rebound (SHR) test. Owing to the development of NDT methods, there is no need to collect samples at sites [2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11]. Considering the reasons described above, it could be determined that this decision was correct. Therefore, this study aimed to promote and guide the determination of cultural heritage deterioration and identify problems by using non-destructive testing methods.

Within the scope of this study, visible problems such as cracks, pores, blistering of plaster, plant growth, and invisible anomalies underneath plaster were examined. In addition, this study aimed to detect different building materials and plaster-covered anomalies with a thermal camera and to obtain determinations regarding the original state of the building.

To provide accurate solutions to these problems, the building materials of cultural heritage elements must also be correctly determined. Another purpose of this article was to encourage elemental analysis of the structure of materials. Within this context, characterization analysis was performed without building sampling or destruction to better determine whether building stones that appear different actually differed.

What is more, Schmidt hammer rebound tests were applied to get an idea about the mechanical features of the material without taking any samples. As a result of these tests, approxiemate UCS values are estimated. From the estimated UCS values, the strength and hardness classes of the stones were determined.

The studies executed within the scope of this article constitute preliminary studies that form a basis for cultural heritage restoration. In other words, restoration should not be conducted without these investigations.

Materials and methods


The research object of this study is the Sivas Industry School Ironworking Atelier located at the Sivas provincial centre in Turkey (Figs. 1, 2, 3). This is a cultural heritage building registered by the Regional Council for the Conservation of Cultural Property on 22.07.1983 with registration decision A-4468 [12]. This building was chosen as an example because it is one of the outstanding Sivas examples of keeping up with the Industrial Revolution. This public building indicating a cross-section of twentieth century architecture should be conserved and meticulously passed down to future generations. As the first step of the conservation, the building should be well-defined. Accurate identification and deterioration of the building materials is a preliminary preparation for the next stage, restoration. Since the geography, climate and geology are known to shape the architecture and affect deterioration, it is necessary to address these issues via an overview before examining this cultural heritage building.

Fig. 1
figure 1

Location of Sivas in Turkey [18]

Fig. 2
figure 2

DEM (Digital Elevation Model) map of Sivas [17]

Fig. 3
figure 3

Sivas historical city centre and location of the Industry School Ironworking Atelier [18]

Geography, climatic conditions, and general geology of the study area

Sivas has an altitude of 1285 m and is located in the basin of the Kizilirmak River, which is a very important river for this city [13, 14]. The city, which is located in a region with a descending topography, starts from the foot of the Meraküm Plateau. The Mismil River, Murdar River, and Pünzürük Creek (Kale River) pass through this city. The Murdar River, which flows along the north‒south axis, connects to the Mismil River in the southeast. The Mismil River in the east of the city also merges with the Kizilmak River [15]. The Pünzürük Creek also flows from the northwest to the southwest of the city and merges with the Kizilmak River.

The mountain ranges to the north and south of Sivas significantly impact the climate in the region. To the south occur Tecer Mountain, Gürleyik Mountain, Bey Mountain, Bozbel Mountains, Kılıç Mountain, Büyük Yılanlı Mountain, and Çengelli Mountain, and to the north occur Köse Mountains, Kızıl Mountain, BüyükKızıl Mountain, Tekeli Mountain, Asma Mountain, and Toraç Mountain (Fig. 2). The Uzunyayla Plateau in the southwest and the Meraküm Plateau at the centre are important morphological formations in Sivas. The plain areas are relatively small and surrounded by mountains [16, 17].

In Sivas, which is geographically shaped by streams, high plateaus, and mountains, a harsh terrestrial climate can be observed. In Sivas, the lowest temperature measured over the last 90 years is − 34.4 °C, the highest temperature is + 40 °C, the average sunshine duration is 6.8 h, the wind speed is no more than 41.2 m/s, the highest snow level is 110 cm, and the highest daily precipitation is 55.0 mm. In addition, the temperature difference between day and night is large [19].

In and around Sivas, the gypsum layer is widespread, along with limestone layers [20]. In addition, Sivas, which contains the only operating strontium mine in Turkey, provides iron, chrome, lead–zinc, cement raw materials, and talc fields [21]. In addition, there occur travertine and marble deposits and granite–cyanite, breccia, andesite–basalt, and limestone occurrences that can be used as building materials [22]. The large number of quarries has been instrumental in the use of ashlar in historical public buildings in Sivas and in certain historical buildings built by the wealthy.

Architecture of the Sivas ındustry school ıronworking atelier

At the historical city centre of Sivas, there are important public buildings such as madrasahs, inns, mosques, gendarmerie buildings, libraries, and governor offices. Another surviving public building is the Industry School and its atelier (Fig. 3).

The Industry School, first proposed by Governor Hadji Hasan but not completed, was founded by Rashid Akif Pasha. The school was later developed by Governor Muammer Bey by adding ironworks, carpentry, and carpet ateliers [23,24,25]. The building that constitutes the subject of this study is the ironworks atelier, which is located just southwest of the Industry School and was used in contingent with the school. The main entrance of the building, located in the corner parcel, occurs in Rahmi Günay Street in the east. Entrances are also located on the western, northern, and southern fronts. There are roads around all three sides of the parcel where the building is located (Fig. 3).

The building, which is one of the important representatives of the Sivas National Architectural Movement, was built in 1914 according to an inscription and served for many years as an application atelier belonging to the Industry School. In later years, it served as a school affiliated with the Ministry of National Education, along with other surrounding annexes. In 1996, these additional buildings around the school were demolished. The building also experienced a fire in the past. Until 2003, the building was used as the woodworking atelier of the Sivas Industrial Vocational High School under the Ministry of National Education. It was restored from 2005 to 2007. Since 2009, it has continued to be used as an archaeological museum [12, 23,24,25,26].

On the eastern façade of the northern wing of the building, at the foundation level, there are 3 rows of pitch-faced stones, 2 rows of ashlar above them, and plaster and yellow paint on the rows of ashlar. At the foundation level on the southern flank of this façade, there are no pitch-faced stones and only 5 rows of ashlar. Due to the elevation difference, the building can be entered via five steps. To the right and left of the entrance door are pseudo-columns and column heads of symmetrically smooth ashlar. The door jamb continues above these elements. There is an inscription on the forehead formed by the jamb (Fig. 4). The gates in the north and south exhibit similar characteristics.

Fig. 4
figure 4

Eastern facade of the Industry School Ironworks Atelier (panoramic photo)

In the corners to the north and south of the U-plan building, the spaces projected from the plan stand out. The façades of these spaces were built with ashlar up to the moulding level. The mouldings, corners, window casings, and window sills of the building are also constructed of ashlar. The windows are tangential arches, and the doors on the eastern, southern, and northern fronts are depressed arches. The wide eaves of the hipped roof building are supported by angle braces (Fig. 4) [23, 27].


Within the scope of this study, the infrared thermography (IRT) method, an NDT method [28], was used to detect deteriorations, anomalies, and material differences. In addition, Schmidt hammer rebound (SHR) tests were performed to obtain UCS estimates and strength and hardness classes of the stones, and X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy was used for characterization analysis.

Infrared thermography

Thermography dates back to the discovery of infrared radiation by William Herschel in 1800 [29,30,31]. Later, this technique was developed by scientists and was used in different fields related to architecture and engineering, such as detection of problems of buildings such as cracks, detachments, flaking, voids in detail combinations, humidity, determination of spatial comfort levels in open and closed areas, material research, determination of building materials underneath plaster, preparation of fire risk analysis, calculation of thermal gains from insolation, and calculation of the thermal insulation efficiency, thermal performance, heat transfer, heat flux rate and thermal conductivity [32,33,34,35,36,37,38,39,40,41,42,43,44,45,46,47,48,49,50,51,52].

One of the uses of the IRT technique is non-destructive testing of cultural heritage elements [28, 32, 53, 54]. A thermal camera detects infrared radiation emitted by objects and converts them into temperature data and visualizes these data in the form of colour thermal maps on a certain scale [31]. With this method, it is possible to detect damage, defects, or material differences that are invisible or difficult to observe with the naked eye.

In this study, an infrared thermal camera was used within the resolution range from 7.5 to 14 μm. The camera with a sensitivity of 0.1 °C and a temperature range from − 20 °C to + 1000 °C is a Trotec IC080 LV camera. During image recording, images of 627 × 410 pixels were obtained. Digital camera images were also obtained at locations where thermal images were recorded. With a digital camera, 4032 ×3024 pixel photos were obtained.

According to a literature review, to obtain efficient results from thermal camera measurements, it is recommended that shooting should be conducted either on a cloudy day without rain or at sunrise/sunset in summer or at night in winter [44, 47, 55,56,57,58,59]. One of the most important reasons for this approach is the interference due to sunshine [55].

Shooting occurred on a cloudy day on June 12, 2021. The wind speed was 1.67 m/s, the temperature ranged from 10 to 24 °C, and the humidity was 36% [60, 61]. It is not desirable to have a high wind speed during thermal camera operation. Excessive wind may cause moisture evaporation on the surface and make it difficult to detect problems due to moisture. The wind speed should be less than 5–10 m/s [47, 56, 57]. On the day of thermal camera measurement, the wind speed was suitable.

In regard to the deterioration types determined by the thermal camera and to ensure compliance with the general terminology and facilitate the establishment of a suitable scientific framework, the terms in the dictionary prepared by the ICOMOS International Scientific Committee for Stone (ISCS) on stone deterioration were used [62]. This article includes an example of the different types of deterioration issues detected during thermal imaging.

Schmidt hammer rebound (SHR) tests

The uniaxial compressive strength (UCS) is one of the important indicators used to determine the strength and life of stones. Obtaining core samples from a heritage building and conducting UCS experiments can unfortunately damage cultural heritage, although the right results can be obtained [63,64,65]. Instead, one of the non-destructive testing methods of cultural heritage, the Schmidt hammer rebound (SHR) test method, can be used [66,67,68,69]. This method saves both time and cost. There is no need for a special laboratory.

The Schmidt hammer was originally developed to determine the strength of concrete [70] and was later used to obtain hardness and strength classes of rocks [69, 71,72,73,74,75]. The hammer works simply given the principle of piston recoil of a compressed spring. The amount of recoil is obtained from the device.

There are 2 types of Schmidt hammers commonly used for rocks, N- and L-type hammers. The N-type hammer can be used for both weak and strong rocks while delivering higher impact energy. The L-type hammer is suitable for weaker rocks [63, 75, 76]. In the experiment, an N-type JE IL Precision Industrial Instrument JI-355 Schmidt hammer was used.

The pitch-faced stones in zone 1 were denoted as limestone-1, and the ashlar in zone 2 was denoted as limestone-2 (Fig. 5). As shown in the photo, the stones in these two zones differ. For this reason, Schmidt hammer rebound (SHR) tests were performed involving both zones. With the Schmidt hammer, 10 strokes were made to the marked stones with Schmidt hammer in Fig. 5. The numerical data obtained as a result of the applied strokes were recorded as SHR values.

Fig. 5
figure 5

Wall where the Schmidt hammer rebound (SHR) test was performed [18]

X-Ray fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy

X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy is an NDT method used to determine the elemental composition. This method has been proven to be reliable and valid and has recently been preferred in analysis studies for the preservation of many cultural heritages [2, 7, 10, 77,78,79,80,81].

In this study, a Thermo Scientific Niton XL3 portable XRF device was used. The use of the portable XRF device eliminated the need to collect samples from the building. No contact was made with the stones, and the device collected data from a distance of 1 mm.

As mentioned above, since the appearance of stones in the 1st and 2nd regions differed, elemental analysis with XRF was performed of both types of stones (Fig. 5). Thus, we aimed to determine whether limestone-1 and limestone-2 differed. The stones whose XFR analysis were made in the 1st and 2nd regions were marked in Fig. 5 and before starting the study, dust and dirt were removed from the surface.

Results and discussion

Infrared thermography

The infrared thermography method enables the detection of problems such as cracks, crevices, joint gaps, material loss, moisture in walls, different building materials, and anomalies hidden underneath plaster. For this purpose, thermal camera measurements of the stones in the 1st and 2nd zones were obtained to detect possible building material differences. The thermal camera software was used to calculate the average surface temperature in these two zones, and this value averaged 38.1 °C for the stones in the 1st zone and 33.1 °C for the stones in the 2nd zone (Fig. 6). There was a difference of 5 °C between these two zones. Because there are many stones in 1st and 2nd regions, taking the temperature average of the stones will provide a better comparison since this will minimize the effect of undesirable factors that change the temperature (like pore, wind, roughness, shape of the stone, etc.)

Fig. 6
figure 6

Graphic of the surface temperature of limestone-1 and limestone-2

As a result of IRT scanning of the building, anomalies could be detected underneath plaster (Figs. 7, 8, 9). Although it is known that the building is constructed of stone, the thermal image in Fig. 10 shows that underneath the plaster layer, different material than stone (possibly brick?) was used in the building. This indicates that this window was once used as a door, filled with various materials during the restoration phase and converted into a window. In addition, there occurred paint spills and plaster blisters on the wall surface.

Fig. 7
figure 7

Western facade of the Industry School Ironworks Atelier

Fig. 8
figure 8

Northern facade of the Industry School Ironworks Atelier

Fig. 9
figure 9

Southern facade of the Industry School Ironworks Atelier

Fig. 10
figure 10

Different material underneath the plaster layer

Another anomaly is shown in Fig. 11. In the digital camera image, a very thin capillary crack could be visible. The cause of this difficult-to-notice problem could be determined with the help of the thermal camera image. The appearance of temperature differentiation on the same wall surface indicated that different materials were used in these two regions. The material difference caused these two surfaces to independently operate, creating a capillary crack in the plaster layer.

Fig. 11
figure 11

Capillary crack due to material difference

Figure 11 shows that the different building materials, seemingly with or without any deterioration, were not visible to the naked eye and occurred below the plaster layer but could be detected via the IRT method. The wooden beam, which continues along the horizontal line under the eave, was not observed in the digital camera image but could be detected with the thermal camera. This image emerged due to the difference between the thermal conductivity coefficient of the wooden beam and that of the stone wall (Fig. 12).

Fig. 12
figure 12

IRT detection of invisible building materials underneath plaster

Scanning of the building façades with the thermal camera continued. Thermal images were also obtained at locations with visible defects. In this article, one example of each defect is presented to conserve space. Figure 13 shows limestone splitting along the plane of weakness due to overload. As shown in Fig. 14, pores in limestone could be observed, and plaster blistering and falling are shown in Fig. 15. Small air gaps formed due to cracks, pores, plaster blistering, and material shedding. There was also a temperature difference between the air gap and the building material. Since these features trapped dry air, small gaps such as pores, cracks, and plaster swells were not affected by the low atmospheric temperature during the morning hours, similar to the principle of operation of thermal insulation materials. Therefore, since the air trapped in these gaps exhibits a lower thermal conductivity than that of the building materials, the temperature in the air gaps was higher.

Fig. 13
figure 13

Splitting of limestone along the plane of weakness because of overload

Fig. 14
figure 14

Pores in limestone

Fig. 15
figure 15

Blistering of plaster

Figure 16 shows that the limestone of the window sill was blistered at Point a, and this blistered piece fell. Since the part that fell is very large in size, dry air was not trapped, similar to small porous thermal insulation materials. In contrast, this region exhibited a lower temperature than that of the building material, as the humid air accumulated here increased heat transmission via conduction. Figure 15 shows that this area was warmer than the other surfaces, as described above, since there are small pores at Point b.

Fig. 16
figure 16

a Blistering of the limestone window sill; b pores in limestone

As an unqualified intervention shown in Fig. 17, part of the wall was plastered with cement plaster, and the surface temperatures differed because of the different thermal conductivity coefficients of cement plaster and stone. In addition, as shown in the digital image, plants grew at the junction of the wall and ground level. These plants, which grow uncontrolled between the joints of the stones or on the surface where the wall meets the ground level, could damage the stone due to their acidic effect. Even if the roots of these plants were weak, they could create problems such as maintaining moist stones and causing salt accumulation [62].

Fig. 17
figure 17

Detection of plant growth and material differences with the thermal camera

Schmidt hammer rebound (SHR) tests

There are numerous recommendations in the literature regarding the evaluation of Schmidt hammer test results. The vast majority of these are based on the elimination of suspicious values, large or very small, and then averaging the remaining values [82,83,84,85,86].

In this study, R values obtained from the Schmidt hammer test were evaluated according to ASTM 2019 guidelines. On the same stone, 10 readings were recorded, and the average value was calculated. Values 7 units below and above the average were excluded from the assessment [83]. A total of three values were excluded from the evaluation, and the average was recalculated.

De Beer (1967) determined hardness classes of rocks according to Schmidt hammer rebound (SHR) values [71]. According to the average SHR values of limestone-1 and limestone-2, the hardness classification of the stones is given in Table 1.

Table1 Estimated UCS value (MPa) according to the SHR value

The SHR test method was also used to provide insight into the uniaxial compressive strength (UCS) of the stones. Numerous equations have been developed to minimize errors in the conversion of SHR values into UCS values. Only transformation equations developed for limestone in the literature were investigated. Estimated UCS values were calculated via appropriate conversions (Table 1). Similar to the SHR value evaluation criterion of the ASTM, values 7 units below and above the average were excluded from the evaluation. Accordingly, the values obtained from the equations developed by Katz et al. 2000, Fener et al. 2005, and Yagiz, 2009 were evaluated, and an average was again calculated [87,88,89] (Table 1).

To determine the rock strength and hardness classes of the limestones examined, a literature review was performed. Based on the estimated UCS values and average SHR values, the rock strength classes of the limestones could be determined, as listed in Table 2 and 3.

Table 2 Hardness classification of the stones
Table 3 Rock strength classes according to the average SHR and estimated UCS values

The SHR and UCS values of the limestones in zones 1 and 2 differed. Based on the hardness class, limestone-1 was defined as medium-hard rock, whereas limestone-2 was defined as hard rock; considering the strength class, according to ISRM [74] and Selby [72], limestone-1 was defined as weak rock, whereas limestone-2 was defined as medium-hard rock, and according to Waltham 2009, both limestones were defined as medium-hard rocks.

A literature review was conducted of the UCS value of limestone, and the estimated UCS values of the two limestones in this study were compared to values reported in the literature. Accordingly, the estimated UCS value of limestone-2 agreed with the range of values in the literature and even exceeded two of these values. It could be concluded that this value was appropriate for limestone-2. The estimated UCS value of limestone-1 mostly remained within the range of values reported in the literature, and the estimate was lower than only a few of these values (Tables 3, 4).

Table 4 Comparison of the estimated UCS values to reported limestone UCS values in the literature

X-Ray fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy

Oxidized forms were extracted from the collected XRF data, and only the concentration of elements was calculated. When preparing graphs, elements that could not be detected during XRF analysis were not included, and the results were normalized according to ppm (Figs. 18, 19).

Fig. 18
figure 18

Logarithmic graph of the element concentration in limestone-1

Fig. 19
figure 19

Logarithmic graph of the element concentration in limestone-2

When the XRF spectrum graphs and logarithmic graphs of the element concentrations in limestone-1 and limestone-2 were evaluated (Figs. 18, 19, 20, 21), it was found that the concentration of Ca was very high in both stones (83.4–86.3%). Due to the difference in humidity, a variation in the Ca level of 2.9% was considered normal. The XRF device is a device that can only measure elements on the surface of the stone. Ca(OH)2 into CaCO3 transformation, which occurs in rock over time, affects the accumulation of Ca on the surface or within the stone. Because the elemental concentrations of limestone-1 and limestone-2 are the same, it was concluded that these both stones are the same type (Figs. 18, 19).

Fig. 20
figure 20

XRF spectrum of limestone-1

Fig. 21
figure 21

XRF spectrum of limestone-2

Mg, Fe and Mn occurred in trace amounts (less than 1%). Since the Mg ratio also indicated trace amounts, it could be concluded that these limestones are not dolomite. Mg is usually combined with carbonate, but here, Mg and Si were probably combined with OH. The analysed stones were clay–limestone, and the clay ratio was less than 1%. The amount of clay in the stone caused its colour to be yellowish white instead of pure white.

The fact that limestone-1 included pitch-faced stones and limestone-2 included ashlar caused these stones to appear different in terms of shape, colour, and texture. In addition, their UCS and SHR values, strength and hardness classes, and average surface temperatures varied. However, when the graphs of the elemental concentration and XRF spectrum were evaluated, it could be concluded that these two stones are the same. In fact, it could be determined that these two stones were sourced from the same quarry, and only the stone-cutting process differed.

It is accepted that ashlar shaping is more laborious and costly than the shaping of pitch-faced stones. For this reason, in case of lack of financial resources, pitch-faced stone is used in the unimportant or invisible parts of the same building. Because the foundation level of this building was under the ground (not visible) in the years when it was built, it was built of pitch-faced stone [107, 108].

Stone hardens after extraction from the quarry. However, the occurrence of limestone-1 underground caused it to behave as if it still occurred at the quarry, but as a result of the exposure of limestone-2 above the ground level to atmospheric conditions, the stone absorbed CO2, and carbonation occurred. The formation of CaCO3 could explain the increased strength properties and hardness of limestone-2 [109,110,111]. The strength and hardness classes of both stones mostly remained within the limits reported in the literature. If evaluated from this perspective, it could be concluded that there is no serious problem in terms of the mechanical strength of the stones.

Ashlar also exhibited a lower visible cavities than when it was extracted from the quarry for the abovementioned reasons [109,110,111]. This caused rapid heat transmission, causing the temperature of ashlar to be lower than that of the pitch-faced stones.


The cultural heritage building researched in this study was examined without destruction, and this study aimed to encourage the application of NDT methods to other cultural heritage buildings.

IRT was applied on all the facades and invisible anomalies such as cavities underneath the plaster layer, joints, and material differences could be detected. Besides these, deteriorations like blistering, formation of pores or plant, splitting make a significant thermal difference. Similar to the example in this article, as a result of IRT, stones may be perceived as different types of stones. However, when XRF analysis was performed, it was revealed that these stones were actually of the same type.

The innovation of this study is that although the infrared thermography technique is generally used in the investigation of materials, it was revealed that another technique such as XRF analysis is needed to better determine whether stones that appeared different based on IRT were actually different. While XRF analysis tells what the material is by presenting the elemental structure of the materials, IRT enables to detect invisible anomalies and physical deterioration of the materials. Therefore, the two techniques are not used interchangeably. They do not create an alternative to each other. In addition to these two techniques, SHR tests, which are non-destructive method, are also needed to give an idea about the mechanical features of the material. Therefore, when determining the conditions and for characterization analysis of a cultural heritage before restoration, different techniques should be jointly used to support each other.

The considered stones, which are located on the north side of the eastern façade of this building, are pitch-faced stones in the first 3 rows and ashlar stones in the next 2 rows. The fact that all 5 rows on the southern side of the same façade were entirely constructed of ashlar indicates that there was a slope from north to south at the time of building construction. In other words, it could be deduced that the topography of the building has changed. In addition, the emergence of stones at the foundation level years later caused these stones to be exposed to atmospheric conditions, resulting in their properties differing from those of the other stones. Cultural assets should be preserved not only considering the buildings themselves but also considering the environment in which they are located, even the topography. In this building example, it is recommended to return the building topography to the original conditions.

Availability of data and materials

The datasets used and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.



Non-destructive testing


Infrared thermography


Schmidt hammer rebound


X-Ray fluorescence


Uniaxial compressive strength


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I would like to thank Metallurgical and Materials Engineer Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ali ÖZER and Ali ALKAN, Director of Sivas Archeology Museum for their unwavering support in the conduct of these studies.


This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

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Pehlivan, G.F. Condition and characterization analysis of a twentieth century cultural heritage through non-destructive testing (NDT) methods: the case of the Sivas industry school ironworking atelier in Turkey. Herit Sci 11, 62 (2023).

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