The materials used across history for craft and art evolved in time and space, together with the development of new technologies (being progress in firing technologies, discovery of new elements/minerals, elaboration of chemical syntheses, etc). The physical and chemical characterizations of ancient and artistic matters can thus give clues about physical and chemical processes used during manufacturing practices. This can not only provide information about lost technologies but can also be used to establish chronological and/or geological markers for further dating/ authentication of artworks. In this context, fragments of paintings, glasses and ceramics are regularly studied at ID21. More recently, the ability of the X-ray microscope to image letters and decipher the composition of ink in papyrus has also been exploited. In addition, fragments from pioneer color photographs and varnish on music instruments were studied to reveal secrets about their manufacture.