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Abstract

Ancient documents pose many challenges for the scholars who painstakingly study and elucidate them. Natural deterioration occurs over time, erasing words and sentences that were once apparent. Water and fire damage can render text completely unreadable. Wrinkles and folds obscure content essential to meaning. Thankfully, old and new imaging methods can today be combined to rescue “lost” text and make it once again accessible to scholars. Using computer vision techniques like registration, historical images that often represent the most faithful record of the original content of a document can now be combined with those produced by newer technologies, like spectral imaging and 3D modeling. The result is a diachronic digital compilation that enables new scholarly discoveries. Using the collection of fragments from an opened ancient scroll from Herculaneum, PHerc.118, the work outlined in this paper prototypes a process that capitalizes on the best of old and new images to create a single, definitive digital model for scholarly study.

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