Todd Hanneken deposited New Technology for Imaging Unreadable Manuscripts and Other Artifacts in the group Ancient Jew Review on Humanities Commons 1 year, 6 months ago
In the twenty-first century advances in digital technology are propelling the study of ancient literature and scribal culture. This essay describes an integrated set of advances in image capture, processing, and dissemination that improves upon first-hand experience and harnesses the power of the web to connect people and data. Illegible manuscripts are an area of particular interest among all the cultural heritage artifacts that benefit from these advances. Spectral RTI makes it possible to distinguish letters and other evidence of use based on traces as subtle as the corrosion of parchment where ink had once been and the spectral signature of ink stains that cannot be distinguished by the human eye. WebGL and open standards are making it possible to link to interactive enhanced images from anywhere on the web, and to link from the images to annotations and tools for analysis. The essay proceeds in four sections. First, Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) makes it possible to capture and visualize fine texture in artifacts such as inscriptions, but at high resolution also the texture of parchment. Second, spectral imaging dramatically improves upon the spectral range and resolution of the human eye in seeing and distinguishing colors. Third, Spectral RTI combines the advantages of the first two technologies producing a result that is greater than the sum of its parts. Finally, open web standards open new doors for accessing, viewing, and annotating Spectral RTI images.