3D scanners are being used successfully to make digital documentation of weathered inscriptions. Leonard Rutgers, of Utrecht University, has been using 3d imaging technology to enable Hebrew inscriptions from an early medieval Jewish cemetery at Venosa, in southern Italy, to be read. The cemetery is believed to have been destroyed in the late 10th century: some of the gravestones were used as building material for the 11th century abbey church of the Holy Trinity and other local buildings.
You can see how the process works (or at least one example of the process) with the digital documentation of the so-called Ogham stones, in Ireland — perpendicular steles dating back to the 5th and 6th centuries that bear inscriptions in a unique alphabet of inscribed notches and lines.
According to the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, which used the scanners to carry out the project, the digital documentation brings “all of the available information together in a single searchable archive and adding a crucial new dimension to the work already carried out in the form of 3D models of the stones.” The DAIS launched it Olgham Stones web site last May.
We are posting this example to show how the technology works — and how it could be used to document and digitize weathered Jewish gravestones, where inscriptions are difficult to read.
The scanner used was the Artec Eva. The Artec3d web site runs an article — with pictures — illustrating the process.
Post-processing is done in Artec Studio 9 software: individual scans are edited, aligned, before a final surface is generated using global registration, fusion, and a small objects filter algorithm. If required, a textured surface can also be created. To complete the project a model is exported from Artec Studio 9 as an .obj file. For dissemination purposes a 3D pdf of the model is generated (using Geomagic Studio 2012) and is available to download from the project website.