Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 17, No. 129.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
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Date: Fri, 04 Jul 2003 06:15:01 +0100
Subject: Re: 17.088 an image-enhancement manual?
In a message dated 6/15/2003 2:03:33 AM Mountain Daylight Time,
>I am involved in a project to produce an electronic edition of a single
>medieval manuscript. This edition will of course provide high-definition
>images of the ms pages. Some of the pages in the manuscript are in poor
>condition, with among other things bleed-through of ink from the other side
>of the leaf. We anticipate that users of the edition will want digitally to
>enhance these pages or parts of them. If "enhancement" were a simple matter
>then of course we would provide enhanced images, but it is not. Deformative
>play of various sorts, yet to be discovered or problematic but fruitful,
>needs to be encouraged. It occurs to me that the best approach would be to
>provide in the introductory material to this edition a description of how
>particular filters, say in Photoshop, can be used under particular
>circumstances to bring out features of an image. I can imagine, for
>example, addressing the problem of a word originally written in silver ink
>or paint for which the metal has mostly fallen off, leaving small bits
>behind. What filter, or what filters used in what sequence with what
>settings, would be best to show the remaining metallic bits?
It sounds to me that the multi-spectral imaging that BYU is using to read
various unreadable texts might be what you are looking for. If they can
read carbonized scrolls then anything else would be easy I would say. The
following is a quote from a press release about the successful attempt to
read the scrolls found at Herculaneum.
Originally developed by NASA to study the surfaces of other planets,
multi-spectral imaging involves viewing an object in different portions of
the light spectrum. When the technology is applied to ancient texts, it
makes it possible to differentiate between the reflective properties of the
ink and the background of the document, even when those differences are not
visible to the eye.
"With multi-spectral imaging, there are infrared components and ultraviolet
components that your eye cannot see, but which the sensor can detect. So we
use different narrow-band filters in the infrared region where the eye
can't see and the background becomes light while the ink stays black," says
Doug Chabries, dean of BYU's College of Engineering who helped adapt MSI
technology to the study of ancient documents.
In 1999, BYU was invited to use its MSI system to image an ancient library,
a collection of 2,000 Greek and Latin scrolls that was carbonized by the
A.D. 79 eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Buried in a wealthy villa in the city
of Herculaneum, the charred scrolls were so badly damaged that some of them
have not been unrolled or read, even though they were discovered 250 years ago.
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