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We turn five!

Mon, 23 Mar 2015 13:37:08 +0000

Five years ago, we were in the final run up to the official launch of UCL Centre for Digital Humanities, at an event that happened in May 2010. And such a lot has happened since then! We’ve worked on a range of projects, from helping sort out linguistic issues with domain names and how best […]


PanoptiCam launched

Mon, 23 Mar 2015 11:56:14 +0000

  PanoptiCam is a new project running a surveillance camera on Jeremy Bentham’s cabinet in the university’s South Cloisters: Seeing Jeremy Bentham’s auto-icon can evoke a wide array of emotions from surprise and shock to mirth. PanoptiCam captures people’s reaction using a webcam mounted above the auto-icon, with the camera feed posted to our website […]



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The UCL Centre for Digital Humanities contributes to and holds a variety of events.

Recurring events include the UCLDH Seminar series. Our events are primarily advertised right here on this page, which is syndicated in an RSS feed, but also on our DH Blog, on Twitter, and via our mailing list

Archive of Programme

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Illuminating the Herculaneum Papyri with New Digital Imaging Techniques

Start: Dec 3, 2014 5:30:00 PM

The advanced computational photographic method, Reflectance Transformation Imaging, is a powerful visualisation tool that is increasingly being applied to a range of archaeological materials. Documentary evidence, particularly damaged or other types of difficult-to-read texts, present rich areas for new insight and discovery. RTI is relatively unique among digital imaging technologies in providing ultra high resolution visualisations with virtual relighting and artificial enhancement capabilities. These tools can vastly improve legibility as well as support exploration of the entangled relationships between ancient writings and their material supports. Dissecting these relationships is particularly vital for reading and reconstructing one of the largest surviving ancient libraries in the world, namely the Herculaneum papyri. More than 2000 rolls, mostly written in Greek, were preserved through carbonisation when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 CE. Over the past two centuries scholars have sought to unroll and read these fragile documents. Multispectral images taken more than a decade ago greatly improved their legibility but much remains to be revealed. In this lecture, Dr Kathryn Piquette will report on the outcomes of a recent Universität zu Köln pilot project involving the application of RTI to these blackened papyrus fragments. An innovation trialled during this work was the combination of RTI with infrared illumination. Dr Piquette will present key results and discuss their implications for improved readings and the associated task of scroll reconstruction. A key theoretical issue underpinning the discussion will be the contrasting notions of the digital image as a resource for interpreting past written meaning, and the more active concept of the digital image as constitutive of the interpretive process.
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