The University of Kentucky Center for Visualization & Virtual Environments

Digital Preservation and Visualization of Historical Artifacts

W. Brent Seales

Co-Principal Investigators:
Joseph Gray
James Griffioen
Ross Scaife

IBM, National Science Foundation, British National Museum, and University of Kentucky W.T. Young Library.

W. Brent Seales, James Griffioen, Kevin Kiernan, Cheng Jiun Yuan, and Linda Cantara. The Digital Atheneum: New Technologies for Restoring and Preserving Old Documents, Computers and Libraries, Vol. 20, No. 2 (February 2000) ( paper )

Michael S. Brown and W. Brent Seales, 3D Imaging and Processing of Damaged Texts, 2001 ( paper )

W. Brent Seales, James Griffioen and Kevin Kiernan. The Digital Atheneum – Restoring Damaged Manuscripts. RLG DigiNews, Vol 3, No. 6 (December 1999) ( paper )

Project Description:
From ancient times, words have been recorded that express immortal ideas and thoughts about society, culture, and philosophy. Around the world, people have recorded these writings in a variety of ways. However, we are now more aware than ever of the possibility of losing these recordings of human history.

We are in race to use 21st century technology to preserve the traces of ancient cultures before the relics disappear forever. The EDUCE project (Enhanced Digital Unwrapping for Conservation and Exploration) is developing a hardware and software system for the virtual unwrapping and visualization of ancient texts. The overall purpose is to capture in digital form fragile 3D texts, such as ancient papyrus and scrolls of other materials using a custom built, portable, multi-power CT scanning device and then to virtually “unroll” the scroll using image algorithms, rendering a digital facsimile that exposes and makes legible inscriptions and other markings on the artifact, all in a non-invasive process.

The project is intensely interdisciplinary, requiring expertise in multiple domains. A complex project, it presents significant intellectual and technical challenges to information technology research, materials research, engineering and the social sciences. The potential broader impacts of the project are significant and immediately useful across a large set of scholarly applications and institutional practices. Successful implementation of the described system will enable noninvasive, nondestructive examination of fragile texts and artifacts which contain a wealth of information, allowing holders to share the intellectual content of precious assets with individuals and other institutions.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0535003.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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