The noninvasive digital restoration of ancient texts written in carbon black ink and hidden inside artifacts has proven elusive, even with advanced imaging techniques like x-ray-based micro-computed tomography (micro-CT). This paper identifies a crucial mistaken assumption: that micro-CT data fails to capture any information representing the presence of carbon ink. Instead, we show new experiments indicating a subtle but detectable signature from carbon ink in micro-CT. We demonstrate a new computational approach that captures, enhances, and makes visible the characteristic signature created by carbon ink in micro-CT. This previously "unseen" evidence of carbon inks, which can now successfully be made visible, is a discovery that can lead directly to the noninvasive digital recovery of the lost texts of Herculaneum.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
W.B.S. acknowledges funding from the National Science Foundation (award IIS-1422039), Google, Lee and Stacie Marksbury, and John and Karen Maxwell.
Access to SEM/EDS characterization instruments and staff assistance was provided by the Electron Microscopy Center at the University of Kentucky, supported in part by the National Science Foundation/EPSCoR Award No. 1355438 and by the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
S1 Appendix: Detailed descriptions of materials, methods, and computational processes. Includes report on alternative ink detection filters developed prior to the work presented here. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0215775.s001
The appendix is also available as the additional file listed at the end of this record.
Parker, Clifford Seth; Parsons, Stephen; Bandy, Jack; Chapman, Christy; Coppens, Frederik; and Seales, William Brent, "From Invisibility to Readability: Recovering the Ink of Herculaneum" (2019). Computer Science Faculty Publications. 23.