Imaging Projects

The Million Image Database

In collaboration with UNESCO, engineering specialists at Oxford University, our other academic partners, and the government of the United Arab Emirates, we are in the process of capturing millions of 3D images of threatened objects.  Armed with lightweight, discreet and easy-to-use 3D cameras, our dedicated volunteer photographers are capturing high quality scans at important sites in conflict zones throughout the Middle East and North Africa.  Approximately 5,000 of these low-cost, high-tech cameras will be distributed by early 2016.  Images from these devices are uploaded through our web portal for inclusion in the open-source Million Image Database.  The images will be used for research, heritage appreciation, educational programs and 3D replication – including full-scale 3D replication using proprietary cement-based 3D printing techniques.  The first full-scale replication will occur in April, 2016 with further replications scheduled throughout 2016 and 2017.  This program is the first of its kind in both purpose and scale.  However, it is our hope that it will become a model for future similar endeavors.  While there are those who seek to encourage us to forget the past – to forget the shared history that unites us – we are dedicated to ensuring that the visual reminders that keep that history alive remain a part of the human experience.


Marsoulas Caves with NYU and The University of Toulouse

IDA, working in collaboration with Randall White at NYU and Carole Frtiz and Giles Tosello of The University of Toulouse, will carry out RTI, PTM and MSI in the Marsoulas Caves in the 2015/2016 seasons. Marsoulas is a great proving ground in that it presents a number of unique challenges for RTI, PTM and MSI technologies. The ultimate aim is to create faithful, high-resolution representations of virtually every square centimeter of the cave panels. IDA also hopes to amplify images of less well-preserved paintings, many invisible to the naked eye, rendering them visible for study for the first time. 

 
Photo credit: benjamin altshuler

Photo credit: benjamin altshuler

Corpus of Ptolemaic Inscriptions

The Corpus of Ptolemaic Inscriptions project began in October 2013, with the aim of creating a Corpus of up-to-date editions of the Greek, bilingual and trilingual inscriptions on stone from Ptolemaic Egypt (323-30 BCE), numbering around 450 items. The project will make available a full corpus of scholarly editions, replacing older publications and other partial collections organised by specific region or theme, and will offer for the first time a full picture of the Greek epigraphy of the Ptolemaic period.  RTI has been able to provide clearer readings and more tangible results on inscriptions which have been eroded over time. 

www.csad.ox.ac.uk/CPI


photo credit: samantha cook

photo credit: samantha cook

Epigraphical Database at ISAW

The IDA is working with ISAW to create a uniform template for epigraphical materials. This will allow researchers to input information easily and in a uniform style. The project is currently in its early programming stage. 


photo credit: benjamin altshuler

photo credit: benjamin altshuler

Beazley Archive Pottery and Gemstones

In conjunction with the Beazley Archive and the Ashmolean Museum, the IDA is working on the applications of RTI and MSI technology in the study of ancient pottery and gemstones. These technologies combat many of the difficulties in these two fields by isolating texture and colour respectively. They will provide new insights into the artistry that went into making these artefacts. 

 
 

Photo credit: Jonathan Brodie

Photo credit: Jonathan Brodie

Classical Civilization in Sicily with Harvard University

 IDA works with the Harvard Department of Classics to send a group of students to Sicily for a week each spring. While there, they visit multiple important sites and take part in Reflectance Transformation Imaging fieldwork in both surface and submerged archaeological contexts. The project has worked with both graduate and undergraduate students and imaged artifacts on in Mozia, Morgantina and the Aidone Museum, and Megara Hyblaea.


photo credit: benjamin Altshuler

photo credit: benjamin Altshuler

Ashmolean Latin Inscriptions Project

Latin inscriptions often seem inaccessible and incomprehensible to the general public. This project aims to create an online corpus and critical edition of the museum's collection of inscriptions for a scholarly readership, and then to use this as a springboard for further online resources and interactive activities, and to incorporate more Latin inscriptions into the museum's displays in order to open up this type of first-hand source material to as wide an audience as possible. It will show Latin inscriptions can illuminate the society, economy, and religion of the Roman world. This project is also funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and is based jointly at the University of Warwick and the CSAD. 

@AshmoleanLatin


Past Projects

photo credit: samantha cook

photo credit: samantha cook

The Philae Obelisk at Kingston Lacy

Ben Altshuler led the IDA team on the Philae Obelisk project in October and November of 2014.  In association with Alan Bowman and Charles Crowther at the CSAD. Altshuler carried out RTI imaging of the ancient Egyptian obelisk located at Kingston Lacy, a National Trust site. This project not only clarified images of hieroglyphic inscriptions on the obelisk, but also brought to light Greek inscriptions at its base which had never been properly read. 

http://www.space.com/27835-philae-obelisk-and-lander-revealing-secrets-with-digital-tech.html

It is powerful to recognize that so many technologies being used in space to lead scientists to the origins of the solar system have equally valuable uses on Earth, helping archaeologists uncover lost secrets of the past.
— space.com
You call it digital archaeology, and we also do archaeology. Archaeology in space.
— ESA
IMage credit: ashmolean museum

IMage credit: ashmolean museum

The Parian Marble at The Ashmolean Museum

The Parian Marble is the earliest existing example of a Greek chronological table, recording the dates of major events from 1582 BC to 299 BC.  It was imaged by IDA scholar Benjamin Altshuler in 2013. What makes this inscription so interesting is how both mythical and historical events were recorded in the same timeline, giving precise dates for the Trojan War, the Flood of Deucalion, and the Voyage of the Argonauts. With the use of RTI, the almost illegible text on the marble in the Ashmolean can now be studied far more precisely.

 
Image credit: benjamin altshuler

Image credit: benjamin altshuler

Vatican Library Project

The Institute for Digital Archaeology headed a project to transcribe a recently-discovered, palimpsested text of Menander's lost comedy "The Wet-Nurse" in the Vatican Library. Ben Altshuler assisted a team that included Nigel Wilson of Oxford University and Michael Phelps of EMEL by providing technical and epigraphic support in the transcription process.  The project yielded a forth-coming edition of the poem to be published by the Vatican Publishing House in 2016.