Different names have been used to designate the corresponding systems, in particular: paleo-inspired, antiqua-inspired, antiquity-inspired or archaeomimetic. The use of these different names illustrates the extremely large time gap between the sources of inspiration, from millions of years ago when considering palaeontological systems and
fossils, to much more recent archaeological or artistic material systems.
Distinct physico-chemical and mechanical properties are sought.
They may concern intrinsic properties of the paleo-inspired materials:
durability (materials found in certain contexts, having resisted alteration in these environments) and resistance to
corrosion or alteration
Observation: This phase concerns materials, their properties, or the manufacturing processes (in relation in particular to the study of
chaîne opératoire's in
archaeology, or the history of techniques, in particular that of artistic techniques), and the processes of alteration (or even the work carried out in experimental
taphonomy). This is therefore a first phase of
reverse engineering. Some of these studies fall within the field of
anthropology. As in the case of
bioinspiration, this phase is fundamental and is based on an approach that favours creative exploration of objects, with few preconceived ideas (
Re-creation: A second phase follows aimed at simplifying materials, systems and processes in order to identify the fundamental mechanisms at the origin of the observed properties. This stage requires a back and forth between the synthesis of simplified systems and the characterisation of the new objects of study.
Design: Finally, there follows a conception or design phase, concerning materials, systems or processes, and aiming at their concrete implementation for applications.
Sustainable building materials
Emblematic examples include the microscopic study of the mineral phases present in
Roman concretes to reproduce their durability in aggressive environments, particularly in the marine environment.
Durable colouring materials
A notable discovery is the elucidation of the atomic structure of
Maya blue, a composite pigment combining a clay with an
organic dye, which has led teams to produce pigments of other colours by combining clays with distinct organic dyes, such as "Maya violet".