The Ancient Historian

Ancient history, mountaineering, cycling and other outside adventures

Three dimensional scanning technology of ancient texts

There is a really interesting project based at Johns Hopkins University called the “Digital Hammurabi” project. Another example of the growing use of technology in ancient studies that one hopes will allow the diffusion of information as well as collaborative projects.

From their website description:
These enabling technologies will revolutionize cuneiform studies. With high-resolution 3D scans we have, for the first time in history, archival-quality representations of cuneiform tablets, allowing us to preserve them faithfully, and to protect them digitally from vandalism, erosion, and careless handling. We can print 3D plastic models of tablets; we can digitally flatten them for 2D print publication; we can visualize them in new ways; we can digitally manipulate cuneiform text, and finally, we can publish 3D virtual tablets to anyone, anywhere in the world, over the Internet.

Very cool stuff. Papyrology has it a bit easier since papyri are basically in two dimensions, and digital projects such as APIS have revolutionzed the study of papyri in recent years. I for one hope all ancient texts will be scanned and availble to scholars and students around the world.


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2 thoughts on “Three dimensional scanning technology of ancient texts

  1. Have you followed the work of Ross Scaife and Brent Seales at the University of Kentucky? I don’t know if Brent had kept on working on this since Ross died, but the project was showing some real promise towards the possibility of reading rolled papyrus and cartonage without having to pull it apart.

    Have a look at Unwrapping the Secrets of Damaged Manuscripts

  2. Joe Manning on said:

    Hi Chuck-


    I don’t know their work but will look it up; there are so many digital projects these days. I know the Herculaneum project people also scan carbonized rolls. And there is good success with epipgraphy. I will try to post more information on these projects and the technology.


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