This paper presents the digital imaging results of a collaborative research project working toward the generation of an on-line interactive digital image database of signs from ancient cuneiform tablets. An important aim of this project is the application of forensic analysis to the cuneiform symbols to identify scribal hands.
Cuneiform tablets are amongst the earliest records of written communication, and could be considered as one of the original information technologies; an accessible, portable and robust medium for communication across distance and time. The earliest examples are up to 5,000 years old, and the writing technique remained in use for some 3,000 years. Unfortunately, only a small fraction of these tablets can be made available for display in museums and much important academic work has yet to be performed on the very large numbers of tablets to which there is necessarily restricted access.
Our paper will describe the challenges encountered in the 2D image capture of a sample set of tablets held in the British Museum, explaining the motivation for attempting 3D imaging and the results of initial experiments scanning the smaller, more densely inscribed cuneiform tablets. We will also discuss the tractability of 3D digital capture, representation and manipulation, and investigate the requirements for scaleable data compression and transmission methods. Additional information can be found on the project website: www.cuneiform.net© (2001) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.