IAP VII: Greater Mesopotamia

Reconstruction of its Environment and History


Work Package VI: Imaging and Technology


I. Imaging Mesopotamian Heritage


Since the 1st of July 2012 an extensive recording programme of objects has been started at the Royal Museums of Art and History, in the collections ancient Near East and Iran. More in particular the cuneiform documents, seals and seal impressions have been digitized with the help of the Portable Light Dome system (PLD, click for paper in Akkadica 132) from the KU Leuven, producing interactive 2D and 3D virtual models. These models allow new opportunities and possibilities to study these artefacts from Greater Mesopotamia. Beside the collections of the RMAH, the Mesopotamian objects from the KU Leuven en UCLouvain (see youtube, French and Dutch) are being digitized and studied via this approach as well. And in addition, all researchers within the IAP network working with Mesopotamian heritage artifacts will make use of the system for their ongoing research at various locations, (intro on PLD-system see this youtube video).

Overlay of two computer generated images (color and line drawing filter of PLD viewer), RMAH - O.175

Overlay of two computer generated images (color and line drawing filter of PLD viewer)



Within WP VI a collaboration has been set up with UCLA, and more in particular with the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative (CDLI). In September 2012 representatives of our IAP and CDLI gathered in Leuven and Brussels during the international Seminar ‘New Visualization Systems within Cuneiform Studies. Opportunities and Hazards’, organized by this IAP. In late Spring 2013 CDLI collaborator Laura Hawkins came to Brussels to scan the remaining RMAH-tablets and add them to the CDLI online database (see blog). The KU Leuven tablets were uploaded in Autumn 2013 by Bob Englund.


II. Imaging technologies


One of the goals of WP VI is to create easy to consult high quality images of Mesopotamian heritage, useful for both scholars and the general public. Below are some examples on how such an outcome can be modeled.


See also this poster on the topic, presented at the Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale at Ghent July 2013.


- PDF: Images generated with the Portable Light Dome system are incorporated in an artefact-fiche. This includes images with all kinds of visualization filters, depending on the type of digitized object. Using this approach via PDF also allows embeding 3D models of the artefacts. In the PDF's u3D-files of the virtual artefacts are published.


example 1: O.1054 (terracotta relief, RMAH collection)

example 2: NP 3 (cuneiform tablet, KU Leuven collection)


- Viewers:


1. Via our desktop viewer, current version 5.0.4 (unzip the file, drag the folder to your desktop and execute the PLDViewer.exe, note this version works with Windows only), one can with this research tool study the PLD-recordings by relighting the surface, applying a set of enhancement filters, activating the measure modus or create 3D models.


2. The recordings made with the PLD can by published and consulted online in an interactive manner (since summer 2013). To demonstrate this approach the Leuven Cuneiform Collection has been presented as such:


example applied on a collection: Leuven Cuneiform Collection (click blue icons)

general viewer: minidome.be (for consultation via a webbrowser of local stored cun or zun-files)


3. Based on the recordings made with the PLD a combination of 2D+ and 3D data is represented in an easy to browse Unity3D environment (the example below shows an intermediate result of this approach, it is our goal that this type of visualization can be achieved for all PLD recordings).


example: NP 2 (cuneiform tablet, KU Leuven collection)


4. Interactive 2D images (created with the Highlight PTM/RTI approach, HP labs and CHI) can be visualized online using a java based viewer. These same ptm/rti-files can also be downloaded and consulted with a standalone viewer on your computer. The large (HD) images of an object can as such be viewed with the standalone on a personal computer and a type of interactive thumb image can be used online for a fast consultation.


example: see the relief on the right


- Via a compilation of screenshots computed into an animated gif format, see below for a example with a lead defixio tablet A.1322 and a cuneiform tablet O.0181 (both RMAH collection).


The Portable Light dome at the ESAT-labs - KU Leuven
Recording a Mesopotamian tablet in envelop with the Portable Light Dome (inside view)


Below: Interactive Image - Online viewer (PTM)

(click on image - viewer by Visual Computing Laboratory - ISTI - CNR)


animated gif, based on images made with the Portable Light Dome System


- High Quality 3D models: The registration of the ancient artefacts with the PLD system allows a complete reconstruction of the surfaces in 3D. This results in high quality 3D models containing up to 8 million faces. Below is a series of models, decimated or with(out) texture (color). These models have the ply-file format and can be consulted with most 3D viewer programs. We recommend MeshLab (both on computer as on smartphone).


example 1: O.3685 - 4,6 mil. faces (cuneiform tablet, RMAH collection) (46 MB)

example 2: O.3685 - 1 mil. faces (cuneiform tablet, RMAH collection) (21 MB)

example 3: O.3685 - 1 mil. faces without texture (cuneiform tablet, RMAH collection) (19 MB)

animated gif, based on images made with the Portable Light Dome System

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