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FW: [ANTHRO-L] Digital camera reveals ancient secrets

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  • Popplestone, Ann
    ... 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] Digital
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 9, 2001
      FW: [ANTHRO-L] Digital camera reveals ancient secrets

      -----Original Message-----
      From: Tim Kuchta [mailto:tmkuchta@...]
      Sent: Thursday, April 05, 2001 3:02 PM
      To: ANTHRO-L@...
      Subject: [ANTHRO-L] Digital camera reveals ancient secrets

      Love those digital cameras!!



      Digital camera reveals ancient secrets
      By Reuters
      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
      the results.

      "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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