QR Coded 3D Prints of Cuneiform Tablets

QR Coded 3D Prints of Cuneiform Tablets

Eleni Kotoula, Kiraz Goze Akoglu, Eckart Frahm, Stefan Simon
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/IJACDT.2017070101
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This article discusses the design of a quick response (QR) coded 3D model of a Babylonian mathematical clay tablet for 3D printing purposes, in an attempt to make better use of advanced 3D visualizations, encourage public engagement and question the influence of tagging and 3D printing on the way humans interact with ancient documentary artefacts. The main emphasis of this article is the methodological challenge, taking under consideration both the technical constrains and object-oriented requirements, such as aesthetics and authenticity. The proposed methodology for the successful implementation of the project incorporates 3D modelling, 3D printing, Automatic Identification Data Capture (AIDC) technologies, and a new open source platform named Cultural Heritage Object (CHER-Ob), for data management, decision making and scientific collaboration.
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The use of computer systems and methods for digitization and enhanced legibility of ancient inscriptions has been an area which received a lot of attention the last decades, as demonstrated by 3D digitization, metric analysis, reconstruction and computational imaging studies (Anderson & Levoy, 2002; Cohen et al., 2004; Earl et al., 2011; Hameeuw & Willems, 2011; Lewis, Woolley, Ch’ng, & Gehlken, 2015; Malzbender, Gelb, & Wolters, 2001; Woolley et al., 2001). Previous research made it possible to 3D digitize or acquire advanced views of ancient documentary artefacts, which contribute significantly to documentation, analysis, interpretation, presentation and dissemination. At the same time, wider use of methodologies introduced by digital technologies, such as Automatic Identification Data Capture (AIDC) and 3D printing is experienced in the field of art and cultural heritage.

In the museum sector, the former technologies are mainly used as guides or as a way to explore the way visitors interact with physical objects and digital data, as in case of the ‘Tales of Things’ and the ‘QRator’, and the exhibition ‘Scotland: A Changing Nation’ (Gubbi, Buyya, Marusic, & Palaniswami, 2013; National Museums of Scotland, 2014; Tan, 2010; UCL, 2011). Another use of 3D visualization and 3D printing is on display at Wereldmuseum in Rotterdam as part of the exhibition ‘Ik kook, dus ik ben.’ / ‘I cook, therefore I am.’ while this paper is under preparation (van Dongen & Benali, 2017). Advances in computing power, new design software, new materials and affordable cost have resulted in rapid technological development in 3D printing (Lipson & Kurman, 2013), with replication (Logan, Barclay, Bloskie, Newton, & Selwyn, 2010; Wachowiak & Karas, 2009) and gap filling projects (Soe, Eyers, Jones, & Nayling, 2012) being the most characteristic applications in the field of cultural heritage. Nevertheless, these technologies have not been combined neither for exhibitions nor for research purposes. In addition, as noted by Reilly et al. in their research on the rediscovery and modernization of the Old Minster of Winchester, 3D models can be easily transformed in 3D printable formats (Reilly et al., 2016), that require association with metadata and biographical history.

The traditional way of exhibiting objects in a glass case acts as a barrier between the visitors’ and the artefacts and the advantages of a closer interaction between visitors and objects have been discussed in the literature (Chatterjee, MacDonald, Prytherch, & Noble, 2008; Pye, 2007; Walker, 2013). An additional language barrier is introduced to visitors and objects relationship in the case of Babylonian Cuneiform tablets due to their incomprehensible language which makes labels the only way a visitor can fully understand the object. Researchers attempted to overcome such limitations by introducing computer kiosks demonstrating advanced visualization techniques, as in the case of the exhibition ‘Visible Language: Inventions of Writing in the Ancient Middle East and Beyond’ in the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago (Woods, 2010). Beyond exhibitions, access to tablets collections is highly demanded and the tablets are the most commonly requested objects in the British museum (The British Museum, 2016), increasing the risk of damage and highlighting the dilemma of preservation versus use.

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