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27 July 2011
Technology sheds new light on ancient artefacts

Technology which makes it possible to study the finer details of some of the world's greatest historical artefacts has been developed by computer scientists and archaeologists in England, at the University of Southampton - in conjunction with academics at the University of Oxford.
     Dr Kirk Martinez and the team have developed two Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) systems to capture images of documentary texts and archaeological material. The systems takes 76 pictures of artefacts with the light in different positions, then creates an RTI image. The viewer can then move the virtual light anywhere and focus on the detail.
     "Hewlett Packard Research Laboratories invented this technology a few years ago and it has been used sporadically around the world," said Dr Martinez. "What we have done is develop the technology so that it is fast enough to be usable every day in a museum situation where you have lots of objects that need scanning."
     The RTI systems developed by the project will allow researchers to study documentary and other artefacts remotely in great detail without being restricted by fixed lighting angles. The result will be to ensure that high-quality digital versions of these materials can be consulted by scholars worldwide.
     This technology is currently being used in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, and has recently been tested in the British Museum, and in the National Gallery.
     The software developed for these systems will be available open source online this autumn together with a guide to making your own system.

Edited from ScienceDaily (20 July 2011)

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