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Proceedings Paper

Digital Hammurabi: design and development of a 3D scanner for cuneiform tablets
Author(s): Daniel V. Hahn; Donald D. Duncan; Kevin C. Baldwin; Jonathon D. Cohen; Budirijanto Purnomo
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Paper Abstract

Cuneiform is an ancient form of writing in which wooden reeds were used to impress shapes upon moist clay tablets. Upon drying, the tablets preserved the written script with remarkable accuracy and durability. There are currently hundreds of thousands of cuneiform tablets spread throughout the world in both museums and private collections. The global scale of these artifacts presents several problems for scholars who wish to study them. It may be difficult or impossible to obtain access to a given collection. In addition, photographic records of the tablets many times prove to be inadequate for proper examination. Photographs lack the ability to alter the lighting conditions and view direction. As a solution to these problems, we describe a 3D scanner capable of acquiring the shape, color, and reflectance of a tablet as a complete 3D object. This data set could then be stored in an online library and manipulated by suitable rendering software that would allow a user to specify any view direction and lighting condition. The scanner utilizes a camera and telecentric lens to acquire images of the tablet under varying controlled illumination conditions. Image data are processed using photometric stereo and structured light techniques to determine the tablet shape; color information is reconstructed from primary color monochrome image data. The scanned surface is sampled at 26.8 μm lateral spacing and the height information is calculated on a much smaller scale. Scans of adjacent tablet sides are registered together to form a 3D surface model.

Paper Details

Date Published: 26 January 2006
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 6056, Three-Dimensional Image Capture and Applications VII, 60560E (26 January 2006); doi: 10.1117/12.641219
Show Author Affiliations
Daniel V. Hahn, Johns Hopkins Univ. Applied Physics Lab. (United States)
Donald D. Duncan, Johns Hopkins Univ. Applied Physics Lab. (United States)
Kevin C. Baldwin, Johns Hopkins Univ. Applied Physics Lab. (United States)
Jonathon D. Cohen, Johns Hopkins Univ. (United States)
Budirijanto Purnomo, Johns Hopkins Univ. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6056:
Three-Dimensional Image Capture and Applications VII
Brian D. Corner; Peng Li; Matthew Tocheri, Editor(s)

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