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25 June 2005
Laser scans will record rock art

Laser technology is being used to record prehistoric rock art in north-east England. Five rocks carved with Stone Age engravings will be recorded using a technique called 3D laser scanning. It is part of the Northumberland and Durham rock art project and is being funded and co-ordinated by the two county councils and English Heritage. The main aim of the project is to develop approaches to recording and conserving rock art.
     Rock Art project officer Tertia Barnett said: "Laser scanning has been used to record only a handful of prehistoric carvings and this will be the largest number of carved panels scanned by one project. The scanner sends a laser beam across the rock and changes of less than 0.5mm (0.02in) can be captured and recorded as digital data on a computer and used to create extremely accurate three-dimensional reconstructions of the rock surface and carvings"
     She said the technique would not damage the rock surface. "It's a powerful tool for conserving rock art and it allows us to look in detail at things such as the techniques used to make the prehistoric carvings and subtle changes in the rock structure where it might have been eroded or damaged", she said. "This will help us assess how to protect the carvings from further decay." Northumberland and Durham have more than 1,000 examples of rock art and the project aims to compile a complete record.

Source: BBC News (23 June 2005)

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