Kevin Pluta and I submitted an abstract to present a 20-minute paper at the upcoming annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America in Chicago (January 2-5, 2013) and we’ve just been notified that it’s been accepted. Here’s the abstract we submitted:
Digital imaging of the Linear B tablets from the “Palace of Nestor”
This paper presents a new project, whose goal is to create a print and digital edition of the administrative texts from the “Palace of Nestor” using advanced imaging techniques. Initiated in the summer of 2013, it is part of the official publication of the “Palace of Nestor” at Pylos excavated by the University of Cincinnati under the auspices of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. We argue that digital editions such as ours have the potential to transform the study of the Aegean Bronze Age by allowing researchers to interact with artifacts at a level of detail and verisimilitude that approaches that of autopsy.
We employ two imaging techniques. The first of these is Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), a method that involves taking multiple photographs of the same artifact under variable lighting conditions. These photographs are stitched together into an image file that stores the color of each pixel in addition to how it reacts to light, allowing the user to re-light the artifact in an interactive virtual environment. RTI therefore affords the opportunity to select the best lighting angle or angles for clearest presentation of the inscriptions. Our second imaging technique is structured light three-dimensional scanning, which has the ability to record accurate, low-interference surface data with minimal clean up. The technique is particularly useful as it collects color data that permit realistic renditions of the artifacts being recorded. In combination, these two techniques will provide the user with highly accurate renditions of the color, shape, topography, and texture of each and every administrative document from Pylos.
There are two closely-related advantages that we see to this digital imaging. First, we anticipate an improvement in the conservation and archiving of the physical artifacts, since the availability of high-resolution images in two and three dimensions will reduce the need for their study and handling. Second, a digital edition provides users with the ability to work interactively with the administrative documents in a digital environment. The resolution of the imaging is such that it even permits users to propose new readings and joins. This allocation of high-quality primary data to scholarly experts represents an exciting development. Far from being merely an enhancement of standard methods of illustration, these imaging techniques have the potential to transform the field by distributing control of the primary data to all qualified experts.
Also accepted was a submission for a poster, entitled “The use of structured light scanning for the study of the Linear B deposits from Pylos, Messenia, Greece,” and co-authored by the 2013 team: Ben Rennison, Jami Baxley, James Newhard, Kevin Pluta, and myself.