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STATUS QUAESTIONIS PORTABLE LIGHT DOME PROJECT FOR CUNEIFORM DOCUMENTS

STATUS QUAESTIONIS PORTABLE LIGHT DOME PROJECT 0

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Report
© 2014, KU Leuven – KMKG-MRAH
Version 1.1 ǀ 22 December 2014
Portable Light Dome System, from registration to online publication within the hour: status
quaestionis Portable Light Dome project for cuneiform documents by Hendrik Hameeuw.




Cover: A Seleucid tablet (RMAH – O.0198) from Uruk positioned and illuminated by one of

the 260 LEDs in the Portable Light Dome

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 Ready in one hour

This report is titled “from registration to online publication within the hour”: true or false?

The scheme on page 1 and below gives an overview of the timed pipeline of actions needed

to fulfil such a prophecy. Obviously, as a series of actions have to be followed, some might go

faster, others might take more time than anticipated. In addition, the whole process is

directed by a laptop. If that laptop’s transfers data relatively fast and calculates the data

swiftly (as the newest model we use does) the entire procedure takes even less than an hour

(about 40 minutes).

For the first sections – the positioning of the tablet and the actual recording – the

condition of the tablet and the brightness of its surface matter a lot. If the tablet

is fragmented, or has to be handled with great care; this will influence the time

needed to position the different sides towards the camera. And, when the surface

is bright, the recording of all the 260 (x 6 sides) differently lit pictures can be done

with a low exposure time. The darker the surface, the longer the recording

procedure takes. As such, the estimation in the scheme to the left is an average.

Throughout the recording process, each time again, the data of a 5 up to 29 MB

(dependent on the operated camera) picture is transferred from the camera to

the computer. As mentioned above, the better the performance of the laptop, the

less this process is slowed down.

The same is thue for the sections ‘Computing data into interactive file’ and

‘Control & writing online file’. The better the graphic card, the more the processor

is of high-performance, the quicker these steps can be made. As such, with the

newest laptops, these calculations can be done even faster than plotted in the

scheme to the left.

So Yes, the “from registration to online publication within the hour” is a true

statement. Only for extremely problematic tablets or when the HD camera is

used, and a relatively fast laptop is not at hand, more as an hour will be needed.

In fact, when larger numbers of tablets are recorded, that in done in series and

intermediate calculations for every tablet are not made separately. During the

day, when the collection is accessible, the recordings are made; thereafter the

calculations for all of the recordings of the day are uploaded and run at night.

For the online publication, the cun- or zun-files can be placed online as such (as was done for

CUSAS 8) or they can be uploaded to a server from which they can be consulted via an online

viewer (for both examples see ‘online results’ below).





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 Technological durability

For the acquisition the obvious custom made software, capable in communicating with the

Portable Light Dome, is required. But for consulting the result the same is true. Both the

desktop and the online viewer are freeware, so no boundaries there. But without that viewing

software, the dynamic 2D images are worthless. To paraphrase, the durability of multi-light,

reflectance images stretches no further as the last moment the money will be found to update

the compatibility of these viewers to the new operating systems of the future.

Storage is one issue, but that can be solved. The digital preservation of dynamic image

systems on the other hand is more challenging. "It's the economy, stupid", “supply and

demand”. The more a data carrier is used, the higher the chances money will always be found

to adapt or convert that carrier to the technologies of the future. But certainly, the

shortcoming of the technology discussed in this paper is this mechanism. Will all the effort

we make today, with whatever fantastic result, still be consultable in the future? Will this

technology be accepted and adopted by a large enough number of players in the heritage

sector, or who knows beyond?














Left: Screenshots of 2D images with line drawings of PLD-viewer applied.
Right: Activate the 3D models ‘behind’ the line drawing, click the image (use acrobat reader)



As the future is hard to predict, the digital safeguarding of the work performed within the PLD

research projects, the investment is made in the transformation of the dynamic approachable

data into globally established data carriers. These are tiff, jpeg and pdf. In fact, thanks to the

ability to extract automated line drawings (see for example p. 4) an easy extra safeguarding

can be assured by publishing such result in journals and monographs, which in turn also

digitally end up in all kinds of databases. Concerning the tiff’s and jpeg’s, it is the strategy to

produce several, differently visualized ‘screenshots’ of every registered surface. This implies

a downgrade from dynamic to static images, but allows a more assured consultability on the

long term. To partly overcome the latter, an extra strategy is to incorporate the 3D images,

which can be generated from every recorded surface, into a PDF-document; whether or not

combined with tiff’s and jpegs (see illustrations above). Again, this is a downgrade or

dissemination of the original data, but in this case the dynamics to interact with the tablets

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Reverse of O.0175

Top left: color-sharpen filter in PLD-viewer; Top right: automated line drawing in PLD-viewer

Below left: overlay of the two images above, Below right: 3D based on PLD-recording in MeshLab-

viewer





We thank all researchers, technicians and scholars who contributed to the achievements made with

the Portable Light Dome project. Taking the chance that some will be overlooked and will not be

enumerated in a list:

Vanessa Boschloos, Anne Goddeeris, Bert Deknuydt, Elena Devecchi, Anne Devillers, Stefan

Gradmann, Elynn Gorris, Eric Gubel, Hendrik Hameeuw, Jared Miller, Wim Moreau, Bruno Overlaet,

David Owen, Marc Proesmans, David Tingdahl, Fred Truyen, Bruno Vandermeulen, Jan Van der Stock,

Luc Van Gool, Karel Van Lerberghe, Sam Van Overmeire, Vincent Vanweddingen, Frank Verbiest,

Gabriella Voet, Geert Willems

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© University of Leuven (KU Leuven) – Royal Museums of Art and History (RMAH)



This research and the results presented in this report are and continue to be funded by the

Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (Belspo): Interuniversity Attraction Poles Programme

IAP 7/14: Greater Mesopotamia & Agora AG/LL/168: GLYPCOL; and via the Hercules

Programme of the Flemish Government. Funding directed via the KU Leuven and the Royal

Museums of Art and History, Brussels.

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