... From: Tim Kuchta [mailto:tmkuchta@YAHOO.COM] Sent: Thursday, April 05, 2001 3:02 PM To: ANTHRO-L@LISTSERV.ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU Subject: [ANTHRO-L] DigitalMessage 1 of 1 , Apr 9, 2001View Source
FW: [ANTHRO-L] Digital camera reveals ancient secrets
From: Tim Kuchta [mailto:tmkuchta@...]
Sent: Thursday, April 05, 2001 3:02 PM
Subject: [ANTHRO-L] Digital camera reveals ancient secrets
Love those digital cameras!!
Digital camera reveals ancient secrets
April 4, 2001, 2:50 p.m. PT
Secrets from ancient history, including money-back
guarantees from a Sumerian slave
trader 5,000 years ago, have been revealed using
state-of-the-art imaging techniques,
according to reports.
Tom Malzbender of Hewlett-Packard Laboratories has
been mapping the texture of rough
surfaces using digital photographs reproduced as
computer graphics, New Scientist magazine
said Wednesday. He has then recreated inscriptions on
badly eroded Babylonian tablets to
illuminate the past.
His tool is a light-proof plastic dome with a digital
camera mounted at the top and 50 computer
controlled flash bulbs arranged to light up the
subject from a number of angles.
Malzbender's image-processing software then combines
data from all 50 photographs taken to
produce a detailed map of the tablet's response to
To increase the visual impact of the virtual tablet,
the crumbling, dull clay surface of the original
is transformed into a polished, reflective one,
exaggerating markings on it.
Archaeologist Bruce Zuckerman, who has spent 20 years
developing techniques for reading
cuneiform inscriptions--the earliest form of writing
dating back to 3,000 B.C.--was stunned by
"We were even able to note the fingerprints of the
scribe who held the clay while it was still
wet," he told the weekly.
One tablet studied was a draft contract, from around
3,100 B.C., of a Sumerian trader named
Ur Ningal who sold slaves. The contract said that if
the goods proved faulty the buyer could
return them for a full refund.
Malzbender is in talks with police agencies about
applying his technology to forensic science.
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