On Mon, 12 Aug 2013, larryjhs01 wrote:
> Hello there
> Can anyone point me to a written guide for taking good 2D photos of
> cuneiform tablets (lighting, angle etc) to give to a museum
I don't know about a written guide, but I can give some pointers about
lighting from my experience with reading and photographing tablets.
Use a single light source (incadescent, not flourescent) and place it so
that it illuminates the tablet from the upper left corner at about a 45
degree angle. The light should also rake the tablet from about a 45
degree angle above the surface. This will cause the shadows to highlight
the wedges and make the text readable. Do not illuminate the tablet
directly from the top or from the right or from the bottom, as this will
eliminate the shadows of the wedges and give the writing a washed-out
appearance without the surface contrast that allows the wedges to stand
Here is a photograph of a brick inscription that was correctly lighted
(apparently by accident because of the angle from which it was
photographed). Note how each wedge stands out from the surface because of
Compare that with with this photo of a tablet that was incorrectly and is
Here is another example of a correctly illuminated cuneiform inscription
(from the top and the left at a raking angle). Note how each wedge,
horizonal, vertical, and diagonal, stands out from the surface.
Of course, if you don't care whether the script is legible or not, it
doesn't matter how you light it.