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Images and Artefacts of the Ancient World$
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Alan K. Bowman and Michael Brady

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780197262962

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197262962.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 27 July 2021

Digitising Cuneiform Tablets

Digitising Cuneiform Tablets

(p.31) Chapter 3 Digitising Cuneiform Tablets
Images and Artefacts of the Ancient World

Carlo Vandecasteele

Luc Van Gool

Karel Van Lerberghe

Johan Van Rompay

Patrick Wambacq

British Academy

In 1850, ‘Assyriology’, or the science of reading and interpreting cuneiform, was created. During this period, historians travelled to the Middle East and spent years copying cuneiform tablets. Now, at the beginning of the third millennium AD, not much has changed. Historians still rely on epigraphy which employs the copying of inscriptions and texts by hand. This method is highly subjective, tedious and time-consuming. As Middle Eastern antiquities departments do not allow the export of these tablets, historians and scholars are faced with the challenge of producing more efficient field methods. This chapter discusses a new method of recording the information taken from cuneiform tablets using digitizing. Digital imaging uses a camera wherein the picture captured is linked to a laptop which runs an image processing algorithm program to obtain the desired results. An enhancement method is then applied to improve the quality of the image. Digitizing cuneiform tablets provides historians a working document with legibility of 90 to 95 per cent. Aside from its relatively efficiency, digital imaging can also allow for the registering of various tablets in one excavation season and can be employed in the digital registration of all sealings such as pottery sherds, and fingerprints on clay vessels.

Keywords:   Assyriology, science of reading cuneiform, cuneiform tablets, epigraphy, digitizing, digital imaging, image processing algorithm, enhancement method, digitizing cuneiform tablets

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