Newest acquisition of the KUL University Library monitored with the Multispectral Microdome

MS1993,  folio 08R  with normal and IR light; folio 45R with visual and false color IR

KU Leuven, MS1993, folio 008R with normal and IR light; folio 045R with visual and false color IR

In May 2015 the KU Leuven University Library acquired a unique illuminated manuscript from the Celestine monastery of Arenberg (Leuven, Belgium). The title “Preparationes ante missam” (“Preparations for the mass ‘) was written and illuminated in 1582 in the Celestine monastery in Heverlee, Leuven by the later prior Petrus Angeli. The manuscript is remarkably small in size (100 x 65 mm), and has 34 illuminations. At the beginning of the book Angeli painted eight heraldic weapons, held by female figures, angels, soldiers or ‘wildemannen ‘, followed with sixteen full-page miniatures. They are meticulously painted in warm and brilliant colors and finished with shell gold, depicting scenes of the Old and New Testament. The dedication miniature on folio 45 refers to the Croy’s family, members of the Knights of the Golden Fleece.

Last week the manuscript was examined in the Imaging Lab of the University Library with the new Multispectral Microdome developed in the framework of the RICH project. First conclusions are that the ‘cartouches’ and the coat of arms in the manuscript remained blank and were never overpainted. Moreover, the results showed with IR light that there was no underdrawing made with a carbon based medium, but probably some outline drawing of very small individual figures by a transfer technique. The false color imaging of folio 045r revealed a complex mixed color palette, characteristic for the late 16th century illumination technique. The coming academic year, the newly arrived manuscript will be examined and analyzed to reveal it’s hidden features.

Workshop on multispectral imaging

The past days (May 11-13) the RICH team organized a workshop on multispectral imaging at the Imaging Lab of the University Library KU Leuven, which coincides with the implementation of the Multispectral Microdome. Mike Toth, Bill Christens-Barry and Alberto Campagnolo set up their imaging system for multispectral capture developed during the Archimedes Palimpsest project. Eric Joakim of Phase One kindly provided an IQ260 Achromatic digital back and IXR camera for capture.

Mike Toth, Lieve Watteeuw, Alberto Campagnolo, Bruno Vandermeulen, Bill Christens-Barry and Eric Joakim

Mike Toth, Lieve Watteeuw, Alberto Campagnolo, Bruno Vandermeulen, Bill Christens-Barry and Eric Joakim, photo Mike Toth

Western and eastern paper, parchment and papyrus documents and archaeological objects such as Egyptian execration statuettes were monitored. These objects were captured through 16 different spectral bands, ranging from UV to IR. We were specifically looking at censored, deleted and faded texts, pictorial layers and false color visualisation of polychrome layers of medieval illuminations.

The Timbuktu manuscripts, which are being researched and digitized at the moment at the Imaging Lab, were also the focus of attention.

Preparing Egyptian Execration Statuettes for capture

Preparing Egyptian Execration Statuettes for capture

Focussing for multispectral capture

Focussing before multispectral capture

Lieve Watteeuw, Mike Toth, Bill Christens-Barry, Alberto Campagnolo and Eric Joakim at work in the Imaging Lab of the University Library

Lieve Watteeuw, Mike Toth, Bill Christens-Barry, Alberto Campagnolo and Eric Joakim at work in the Imaging Lab of the University Library

Lieve Watteeuw, Mike Toth, Alberto Campagnolo and Athena Van der Perre looking at a manuscript from Timbuktu

Lieve Watteeuw, Mike Toth, Alberto Campagnolo and Athena Van der Perre looking at a manuscript.

First preliminary results of the Egyptian Execration Statuettes (EES) Project

The EES Project, funded by the Belgian Science Policy agency Belspo (BR/121/PI/EES), aims to create multispectral 3D images of the Egyptian Execration figurines of the Royal Museums of Art and History (RMAH) with the newly developed Multispectral Microdome, developed in the framework of the RICH project, in order to enable a detailed study of the texts without handling the figurines themselves.

The first tests with the MS Microdome (see also blog below) already delivered some very promising results for the figurines inscribed with (red) ochre ink. When comparing the MS Microdome image to the conventional photos, it is clear that the legibility of the faded signs has improved significantly. This gives us the opportunity to reconstruct parts of the inscription which were previously considered to be lost for good.

Based on these first tests, the software can now be further adapted.

E9076 Compilation of different imagesBased on the MS microdome images an otherwise impossible attempt could be made to visualize and detect the at the bottom of the illustration highlighted line of inscription.

Execration statuettes are small figurines, inscribed with hieratic texts, listing the enemies of the Pharaoh. They are dated to the end of the 12th Dynasty (c. 1850 B.C.). The Royal Museums of Art and History (RMAH) house a large collection of these figurines, obtained by the famous Belgian Egyptologist Jean Capart in 1938. The figurines, made of unbaked clay and inscribed with black or (red) ochre ink, are currently in a very fragile condition.

These first preliminary results were made possible thanks to the continuing efforts by Marc Proesmans of the ESAT labs at the KU Leuven; Bruno Vandermeulen of the KU Leuven Arts Faculty Photolab and the Royal Museums of Art and History team in Brussels: Athena Van der Perre, Vanessa Boschloos, Hendrik Hameeuw and Luc Delvaux.

Using PLD images for the publication of Seleucid stamp seal impressions

HAMEEUW H. & VAN OVERMEIRE S. 2015: The Seleucid Bullae from Uruk in the Royal Museums of Art and History, Brussels, in: Mesopotamia 49, pp 113-142, pl 5-13. (article on academia.edu)

The Royal Museums of Art and History (RMAH ) Near Eastern collections contain six large Seleucid bullae. These originate from the city of Warka (Uruk), where German archaeological teams began excavating in 1902, with systematic digging starting in 1912/1913 and lasting until 2002. Seleucid bullae were found in several rooms around the Bit Rēš sanctuary and they are now the property of museums world-wide. On the RMAH bullae, H. de Genouillac notes in a publication on a Sumerian-Babylonian vocabulary: «Ce beau “syllabaire” provident d’une trouvaille faite à Ouarka au printemps 1912 et comprenant 17 tablettes de présages et une centaine de contrats de l’époque des Séleucides, Il a été acquis par le Musée de Bruxelles avec divers spécimens de la même découverte.». Among them are most probably eight legal cuneiform documents and the six bullae presented here; as such, they all received successive collection numbers in the RMAH museum register.

RICH presents the new Multispectral Microdome

Today the RICH team presented the first preliminary results of a Microdome with multispectral RTI capability at the Digital Humanities Spring Session (KU Leuven, April 28-29).

The new Multispectral Microdome is equipped with 228 different LED lamps. Five different spectra are evenly distributed over the dome: UV at 365 nm, Blue at 460 nm, Red at 523 nm, Green at 623 nm and IR at 850 nm. A black and white sensor of 28 Mp with extended sensitivity in UV and IR is mounted on top of the dome. After first analysis, the software will be fine-tuned and further enhanced.

Manuscript: KU Leuven, Tabularium, MS 1007, folio 41V

Scanning cuneiform @ Royal Museum Mariemont (Belgium)

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From 9 to 17 February the Portable Light Dome has been scanning cuneiform tablets at the Royal Museum of Mariemont (Belgium). This work on some hundred tablets, cones, cylinders, barrels and seals was conducted by the IAP Greater Mesopotamia team, i.e. the UCLouvain and KU Leuven partners.

They thank the direction of the Mariemont museum for the permission and their cooperation, in particular Arnaud Quertinmont for his kind reception and guidance throughout our stay.

(Hendrik Hameeuw, Elynn Gorris and Etienne Van Quickelberghe)