Thursday Jul 15, 2010

Oracle Powers High Tech Archeological Research

While archeology often conjures up images of dusty treks across the Dead Sea searching for artifacts, the InscriptiFact system from USC makes use of advanced Oracle technology including Oracle Database and Oracle Weblogic Products, along with high tech Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) to bring images of not only the Dead Sea Scrolls, but inscriptions from 1000's of other archeological artifacts to students and researchers worldwide. I spent the afternoon yesterday at USC visiting with Professor Bruce Zuckerman, the brainchild behind InscriptiFact. While getting to see in real life some of USC's archeological collections was amazing in itself, viewing the same artifacts in the InscriptiFact system was even more amazing.

While InscriptiFact includes artifact images dating to the early 1900's (the artifacts themselves are often 1000's of years old), some of the most amazing images are relatively new RTI images. Understanding how RTI images are created is best done by showing the Melzian Dome used to capture the images.

The dome has 32 computer-controlled LED lights and multiple exposures are taken of the same artifact using different lighting combinations and then merged into a single image file. Using the InscriptiFact viewer, a Java application that can run on any PC or laptop, a user can dynamically change the lighting on the image being viewed. Seeing is believing, so lets take a look at an example.

InscriptiFact provides the ability to compare conventional images along-side RTI images. Illustrated above is an Aramaic tablet from Persepolis, ancient Persia, with a seal impression. The images on the left are visible light and infrared images taken with high-end digital scanning back. The images on the right are versions of an RTI image, one showing the natural color of the object, the other using specular enhancement. Even to the untrained eye, one can clearly understand the power of RTI to bring often better than lifelike detail to ancient artifacts.

While the RTI images are visually the most powerful aspect of InscriptiFact, the real value of the system goes much farther based on the power of the InscriptiFact user interface and underlying Oracle Database. Take for instance the spacial search feature. This feature allows researchers to drag a box on a reference image and retrieve all images that intersect the box.

InscriptiFact is designed to incorporate, integrate and index all existing image data in a quick and intuitive fashion regardless of what repository or collection the artifact (or fragments, thereof) exist in. In the example below, the original table on which an ancient myth was written was broken, and pieces ended up in two different museums. Using InscriptiFact, a researcher can easily retrieve images of all the images for viewing on a single screen.

Not only is InscriptiFact a powerful tool in its own right for anyone from post-grad archeologists to grade school students, its a wonderful example of what is possible through the integration of advanced imaging, advanced database and Java technology, and the Internet to span both space and time. Visit the InscriptiFact web site to learn more.

About

marchamilton

Search

Archives
« July 2010
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
    
1
2
3
4
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
14
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
       
Today