Interdisciplinary blog

MDR Week: Blog no 7- Insights into ‘Imaging technologies for analysing ancient documentary artefacts’

March 14, 2013
by Graeme Earl

Join Dr Graeme Earl for the seminar: New horizons in imaging on Tuesday 21st March to hear how extraordinary advances in Imaging lies at the heart of our current research activity. An insight into this exciting and multidisciplinary research field can be found below.

Insights into ‘Imaging technologies for analysing ancient documentary artefacts’


I spend a lot of time looking at and making, hopefully, pretty pictures. Archaeology has a firm grounding in the visual – we categorise archaeological materials on the basis of colour, we interpret human interactions with space on the basis of patterns of light and shade, and we also simplify complex analytical data by using data visualisation. That’s not to say that archaeology isn’t a multisensory discipline – again my own interests extend to simulation of acoustic properties of spaces and of touch or haptics – but visual interactions and representations are all pervasive. My colleague Stephanie Moser emphasised this at her inaugural, and in a recent blog post on the beauty of ancient objects she discusses the relationship between expressing layers of meaning and appreciation of the visual and other qualities of artefacts.

In my own work on archaeological imaging I have concentrated on the capture of object detail and the creation of virtual, or mixed virtual and real, spaces within which to critique those objects. The passage of time and the archaeological process both generate a ‘patina’ on the material record we study. So, in creating imaging datasets like the Roman coin hoard to be discussed in my talk we must be aware of the impact of technology on the interpretations that can result. So for example in the talk I will describe some of our many collaborations with the μ-VIS multidisciplinary, multiscale, microtomographic volume imaging centre, and also talk about other imaging approaches to cultural heritage material, including ancient document artefacts. I will also share some thoughts on the possibilities of computer simulation to augment and share these data in visually engaging ways.

Multidisciplinary collaborations are at the heart of all of my research and teaching and so I am particularly pleased that I can participate in Multidisciplinary Research Week and make some new contacts. The Computationally Intensive Imaging USRG has already stimulated some new archaeological work.

 You can read some other blog posts by me here:




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Categories: #MDRWeek, Computationally Intensive Imaging, multidisciplinary research, and Multidisciplinary Research Week. Tags: #MDRWeek, Computationally Intensive Imaging, Dr Graeme Earl, and Multidisciplinary Research Week. Project names: Imaging.