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CODE 80522
  • 6 cfu during the 2nd year of 8453 CONSERVAZIONE DEI BENI CULTURALI (L-1) - GENOVA
    LANGUAGE Italian
  • SEMESTER 2° Semester


    The course gives an overview of the relationships between Botany and Cultural Heritage and highlights the importance for the study of biodeterioration. Moreover, plant materials and plants cultivated in historical Italian and Genoese gardens are illustrated and guiderlines for interpretationants of plants represented in art works are given. The course also teaches elements of general Biology, Ecology and General and Systematic Botany useful for the learning of specific parts of the course. 



    The course aims to supply indications for identifing plant material of historical-artistic and archaeological interest; for the analysis of plant iconography; for the dating and study of wooden artefacts on a dendrochronological basis; for the study of biological deterioration of Cultural Heritage. 


    The course aims to give an overview of all the relationships that Botany, in its various aspects, has with Cultural Heritage whether they are artistic, archaeological or archives.  The importance of the application of botany to Cultural Heritage for the prevention of biodeterioration is highlighted, for the recognition of plant materials used in works of art and of plants cultivated in historical Italian and Genoese gardens in particular (especially concerning the introduction of plants from other continents) and for the contribution that this knowledge can give to the interpretation of the works of art. The course also presents elements of general Biology, Ecology, General and systematic Botany which are useful for learning in the more specific parts of the course. 


    basic knowledge of botany and plant ecology would be very useful for a fruitful learning; however, for students who do not meet these requirements, didactic material is provided at the beginning of the course to facilitate learning


    Lectures, some laboratory and practical working in the field.

    The course is usually supplemented by a seminar in which graduates, doctoral researchers and candidates present their experience in the field of application of Botany to cultural heritage.

    In order to facilitate learning, during the course anonymous tests will allow students to to self-evaluate, assessing their learning progress.

    Classes are held in person. Attendance, although not compulsory, is recommended. The lecturer, at the specific request of a student (by e-mail), may allow him/her to follow classes remotely via “Teams” platform and to view class recordings.


    Program for students that take the course for 6 CFU

    Definition of material and examination of main fields of application of Botany to Cultural Heritage. Elements of plant Biology: cell organisation, cell chemical composition, cell metabolism, classification of living organisms on the basis of trophic typologies. Main differences between the animal and plant cell. Elements of systematic Botany. Fundamental characteristics of the main groups of plants. Structural, functional and ecological characteristics of the main biological agents of deterioration: prokaryotes; algae; fungi; lichens; land plants or embryophytes (bryophytes, ferns, gymnosperms, angiosperms). Fundamental characteristics of plant anatomy and reproductive systems of the various groups, especially in relation to the identification and evaluation of potential biological agents of deterioration. Main characteristics useful for identification  of angiosperm plants. Elements of ecology.

    Biodeterioration of Cultural Heritage; General mechanisms of Biodeterioration processes. Phenomenology of Biodeterioration. Biodeterioration Ecology. Ecological factors and their connections with Biodeterioration; plant and microbial communities: functional and dynamic aspects. Limiting factors: water, light, temperature, nutrients. Polluting agents, climatic factors (microclimate, macroclimate). Ecological sequences in Biodeterioration. Structural, ecological and functional characteristics of the main biological agents of deterioration.

    Danger index of tracheophytes for the evaluation of Biodeterioration of Architectural and Archaeological Goods.

    Biodeterioration processes in relation to the materials of Cultural Heritage (organic, inorganic and composite material). Problems of Biodeterioration in relation to types of environment (external, confined or semi confined environments, etc.). Problems of biodeterioration in connection with geographical and climatic contexts.

    Conservation of Cultural Heritage; prevention of biodeterioration; guidelines for preventive conservation. Control of biodeterioration and biorecovery; physical, chemical, biological methods useful to control biodeterioration.

    Knowledge and enhancement of cultural and environmental heritage. Identification of plant material of archaeological and historical-artistic interest. Wood: morphological and anatomical characteristics useful for the identification of wood used in artefacts; annual rings, homoxylous and heteroxylous wood. Most common woods used in artefacts. Dendrochronology for dating and studying ancient woods.

    Historical Gardens. Knowledge and conservation of parks and historical gardens, Botanical Gardens and Naturalistic Museums. Historical outline of historical gardens: Egyptian, Babylon, Ancient Greek and Ancient Roman Gardens. Medieval Gardens: monastic and courtly gardens, Islamic gardens, (hortus conclusus).

    Renaissance and 18th century gardens: Italian formal gardens, Mannerist and Baroque gardens, French gardens, Romantic or English gardens, 19th century and contemporary gardens. Plants commonly cultivated in Renaissance gardens (border plants, flowering plants, ornamental arboreal plants and fruit plants, plants in the Giardino dei Semplici and the secret garden).

    Plants in works of art and problems related to their identification. Phytoiconology for recognition and interpretation of artistic depictions.

    Analysis of plant iconography in archaeology and arts; the contribution of botany to the identification of plant species in paintings and sculptures of archaeological and historical-artistic interest and for the interpretation of the meaning of the depiction itself. Methodologies, case-studies. Methodologies used to identify plants in artistic depictions. Scientific botanical iconography


    Caneva G., Nugari M. P., Salvadori O., 2005 - La biologia vegetale per i beni culturali [volume I] Biodeterioramento e conservazione. Nardini Editore
    Caneva G., Nugari M. P., Salvadori O., 2005 - La biologia vegetale per i beni culturali [volume II] Conoscenza e Valorizzazione. Nardini Editore

    Specific bibliography will be provided during the course


    Exam Board

    MARIA ANGELA GUIDO (President)






    Wednesday 1st March 2023




    Oral exam, with questions on the topics of the program and analysis and description of images in order to ascertain the adequacy of candidates’ preparation.



    The exam will be oral with questions on different topics in order to assess the adequacy of candidates’ preparation.

    The exam aims to assess knowledge of the subject and the different applications of botany to cultural assets both for biodeterioration and conservation and enhancement of cultural assets. It will also seek to assess learning of elements of plant ecology and systematic botany that are useful for applying the subject to cultural heritage.

    Students are deemed to have reached a “minimum/sufficient” level of learning when they demonstrate that they have assimilated basic concepts of various topics developed during the course.

    Students are deemed to have reached an “excellent” level of learning when they demonstrate critical and in-depth knowledge of the different applications of botany to cultural heritage. 

    Exam schedule

    Date Time Location Type Notes
    15/12/2022 16:00 GENOVA Orale
    19/01/2023 16:00 GENOVA Orale
    02/02/2023 16:00 GENOVA Orale
    11/05/2023 16:00 GENOVA Orale
    29/06/2023 16:00 GENOVA Orale
    13/07/2023 16:00 GENOVA Orale
    27/07/2023 16:00 GENOVA Orale
    14/09/2023 16:00 GENOVA Orale


    In order to facilitate learning during the course there will be anonymous tests that students can use to self-evaluate and to assess their learning progress.

    Participation in lessons and exercises is strongly recommended, especially considering the fact that very often the curriculum of the students of this graduation does not include topics in biology, plant systems and ecology.
      In case of difficulty in learning or forced absence from the lessons, students can ask tutors in the person of older students, to this task recruited and trained.