Important artifacts from The National Archives [UK] now digitized in 3D

January 23, 2014.

A group of scholars and scientists from The National Archives [UK] and the University of Florida have successfully completed a joint 3D digitization project of important historical artifacts from the 13th-16th centuries. The 3D digital collection that was created in this pilot project includes seals and medals, as well as lace samples, and can be accessed on-line in this link through the interface of the Digital Epigraphy Toolbox1.

Two examples of 3D digitized seals of Henry III King of England (left) and the coat of arms of Kiel (right). Click to enlarge.

The artifacts were digitized in sub-millimeter accuracy using bi-directional flatbed scanning2. This cost-effective technique reconstructs the tri-dimensional shape of the scanned objects using a regular flatbed office scanner.

"In this digitization project we experimented in digitizing materials with various reflectance properties. We were very happy to see that high quality 3D scans were acquired from a variety of materials such as paper, plaster and lace" according to Prof. Barmpoutis, who is the director of the Digital Epigraphy and Archeology project. Dr. Dinah Eastop and Rachel Farmer from The National Archives [UK] performed the bi-directional scanning of the artifacts, which were then processed and digitized in 3D by the Digital Epigraphy and Archaeology group (Drs. Bozia, Wagman, and Barmpoutis) at the University of Florida.

Below you can find an example of an embedded 3D artifact from the digitized collection of The National Archives [UK]. Use touch gestures or mouse movements to interact with the exhibit. You can rotate, zoom, relight and view in full screen information about this Great Seal of the Realm.

This important historical evidence can now be easily accessed and studied by scholars using this on-line viewer. One of the advantages of the Digital Epigraphy Toolbox viewer is that it can be easily embedded into websites or other databases by using the following HTML tag:

The above HTML tag corresponds to the Great Seal of the Realm from the collection of The National Archives [UK]. You can find the corresponding embed-tag of other exhibits within the information provided in their records in the Digital Epigraphy Toolbox1.

The DEA editorial team

1. Digital Epigraphy Toolbox,
2. A. Barmpoutis, E. Bozia, R. S. Wagman, "A novel framework for 3D reconstruction and analysis of ancient inscriptions", Journal of Machine Vision and Applications 2010, Vol. 21(6), pp. 989-998. PDF

Funded in part by the NEH grant HD-51214-11.

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 The Digital Epigraphy and Archaeology Group, University of Florida, P.O.Box 115810, 101 Norman Gym, Gainesville, FL 32611-5810 USA