From damage to discovery via virtual unwrapping: Reading the scroll from En-Gedi

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Science Advances  21 Sep 2016:
Vol. 2, no. 9, e1601247
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1601247

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Computer imaging techniques are commonly used to preserve and share readable manuscripts, but capturing writing locked away in ancient, deteriorated documents poses an entirely different challenge. This software pipeline—referred to as “virtual unwrapping”—allows textual artifacts to be read completely and noninvasively. The systematic digital analysis of the extremely fragile En-Gedi scroll (the oldest Pentateuchal scroll in Hebrew outside of the Dead Sea Scrolls) reveals the writing hidden on its untouchable, disintegrating sheets. Our approach for recovering substantial ink-based text from a damaged object results in readable columns at such high quality that serious critical textual analysis can occur. Hence, this work creates a new pathway for subsequent textual discoveries buried within the confines of damaged materials.

  • Micro-CT
  • virtual unwrapping
  • segmentation
  • digital restoration
  • visualization
  • digital flattening

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