Recently at CHICC we have finally begun our tests with our new MegaVision spectral lighting panels. Micheal Toth who has worked on the spectral imaging of the Archimedes palimpsest and other cultural imaging projects joined us for a 2 day workshop. Michael also gave a great presentation to staff about his recent work on the Galen Palimpsest digitisation project, and the importance of creating an online repository for the data. Michael has also been working on an incredible spectral project within St Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai desert, a wonderful in depth article can be found here.
The light panels work through the electromagnetic spectrum, emitting light from 12 different wavelengths, starting off in UV and working through visible into infrared. We removed the IR filter from our Phase One P45+ back to be able to pick up the invisible light. By photographing objects under this lighting system, we are able to see what is essentially hidden, either text under text, water marks, text on pasted down pages and text obscured by damage.
The 12 images captured are then processed through open source software ImageJ. This is the more difficult part of the process. The software is incredibly powerful, but it takes time to process the images and create results. We are currently working with image scientist Bill Christens-Barry in the US who will guide us through imageJ, and work on the images we have collected so far.
We tested the system on a variety of different objects from our collections, to test how the lights can help us with different problems. The famous St. Christopher woodcut, to try and bring out the watermark on the pasted down page. The above Coptic Palimpsest fragment, inscriptions in the Gutenberg Bible that have faded, and most effective without processing, carbonised Greek papyrus fragments, that are barely legible, completely when photographed under normal conditions. The below image shows the difference between normal and infrared. Even without processing the images through ImageJ, you can see the text is now clear.
We will be sending our captured images over to Bill who will guide us through the processing. We will have some more conclusive results soon.