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X-ray computed tomography for virtually unrolling damaged papyri

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The regular format for ancient works of literature was the papyrus roll. Recently many efforts to perform virtual restoration of this archeological artifact have been done. In fact the case of ancient rolled papyrus is very intriguing. Old papyruses are the substrates of very important historical information, probably being the use of papyrus dated to the Pre-Dynastic Period. Papyrus degradation is often very hard so that physical unrolling is sometime absolutely impossible. In this paper, authors describe their effort in setting a new virtual restoration methodology based on software manipulation of X-ray tomographic images. A realistic model, obtained by painting a hieroglyph inscription of Thutmosis III on a papyrus substrate made by the original method described by Plinius the Elder and by pigments and binders compatible with the Egyptian use (ochers with natural glue), was made for the X-ray investigation. A GE Optima 660 64 slice was used to obtain a stack of tomographic slices of the rolled model. Each slice appears as spiral. The intensity variations along the cross-sectional result from ink on the papyrus. The files were elaborated with original software, written by the use of MATLAB high-level language, and the final result was quite similar to the radiography of the physically unrolled sheet.

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Correspondence to Dario Allegra.

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Allegra, D., Ciliberto, E., Ciliberto, P. et al. X-ray computed tomography for virtually unrolling damaged papyri. Appl. Phys. A 122, 256 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00339-016-9796-1

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  • Compute Tomography Acquisition
  • Spiral Path
  • Skeleton Point
  • Cultural Heritage Material
  • Ancient Artifact