On archaeological digs, it is standardpractice to take aerial photographs of thesite shortly after sunrise or just beforesunset when the sun is low in the sky. Theshadows cast by the glancing sunlightenhance faint surface irregularities ortexture differences on the land, makingunderlying physical structures visible.Tom Malzbender and his team atHewlett-Packard Labs in Palo Alto, Cali-fornia, developed a portable relightingtool for artifact surfaces that enabled usto obtain similar images of the Antiky-thera mechanism fragments. We placeda 1-meter-diameter geodesic hemisphereover each fragment, with 50 electronicflashbulbs distributed across the hemi-sphere’s inner surface, fired off insequence by a laptop computer that alsocontrols a digital camera at the dome’szenith, which takes a picture for eachflash. We use software to combine the se-quence of 50 differently lit images at will,with or without further image process-ing. When displayed interactively, theeffect is of being able to hold the objectin your hand and turn it in all directionsrelative to the light, greatly aiding thecomprehension of faint detail.Malzbender’s approach uses
polynomial texture maps
(PTMs; www.hpl.hp.com/research/ptm/ri.html) to rep-resent image pixels as functions of the lighting source’sdirection to specify red, green, and blue on surface com-ponents. A PTM fitter fits a low-order polynomial to lightedsamples of the object represented in the image sequence.We use a PTM viewer to evaluate this polynomial for eachpixel to produce a
reflectance transformation image
(RTI)that enhances the object’s surface detail under variablelighting conditions. Even low-end computers can handlethis reconstruction at real-time rates because of the poly-nomial’s simplicity.Figure 1 compares a photo and RTI of fragment 19, themechanism’s back cover. Interactive RTIs of all 82 surviv-ing fragments are available at www.hpl.hp.com/research/ptm/antikythera_mechanism/index.html. Examples of awide range of PTM applications to other archaeologicalartifacts such as stone tools, ceramics, coins, and rock artcan be viewed at http://c-h-i.org/examples/ptm/ptm.html.
MICROFOCUS X-RAY COMPUTEDTOMOGRAPHY
In archaeology, computed tomography (CT) involvesmounting an object of interest on a turntable and takinga series of 2D X-ray projection images called radiographsvia computer as the turntable rotates 360 degrees in an-gular steps. Researchers analyze the resulting data withspecial software that reconstructs the 2D projections intoa 3D volume.X-Tek Systems (now part of Nikon Metrology) built andoperated for us a special prototype 450-keV BladeRunnerCT system, the high energy of which could penetrate theAntikythera mechanism’s largest surviving fragment. Thesystem’s
X-ray source has a small but intensebeam diameter that allows much greater spatial resolutionthan typical CT medical scanners. The detector was a 16-inch Perkin Elmer flat panel with 2,048 × 2,048 square400-micron pixels.With this microfocus source, we could geometricallymagnify fragment samples on the detector by manymagnitudes, allowing resolutions in the range of 40 to100 microns, depending on sample size. We imagedmost of the fragments at X-ray potentials of 225 keV and366 keV, scaling the 16-bit monochromatic radiographsfrom the detector to fit the dynamic range by convert-ing them to 8-bit images with 256 gray levels, beforecompressing and saving them as JPEGs. Example imagesof mechanism fragments can be found at www.shawin-spectionsystems.com/library/antikythera/dr/dr.htm.
Applying surface imaging to fragment 19, the Antikythera mecha-nism’s back cover: (left) photograph and (right) reflectance transformationimage that enhances the text in what amounts to the mechanism’s instructionmanual. The text highlighted in red identifies the ancient Babylonian cyclesthat underlie the gearing: “76 years” refers to the Callippic cycle, “19 years” tothe Metonic cycle, and “223” to the Saros cycle.
Copyright 2006-2008 Antiky-thera Mechanism Research Project