In The News: The David Livingstone Spectral Imaging Project

On this morning’s Marketplace (TM) was this little gem. Good to see conservation science in the mainstream media.

by Noel King
Wednesday, October 1, 2014 – 05:00
STORY

The David Livingstone Spectral Imaging Project
Spectral ratio version of Livingstone, The 1871 Field Diary, 297b/157-138

If you were around during the 80s, you probably remember the Indiana Jones movies—The swashbuckling archaeologist traveled the world digging up ancient treasures.

If you were to go looking for a real-life, present-day Indiana Jones, you might get someone like Michael Toth. He and his teams travel around the world using modern technology—lasers, high-tech cameras—to unearth treasure. It’s centuries-old writing that appears in very faint form on manuscripts called palimpsests. Along the way they’ve discovered everything from lost languages to some very mysterious fingerprints.

You’re not discovering ancient manuscripts; you’re working to read what’s buried in them. Tell me a little about the work you do?

We work on a range of manuscripts—the earliest copy of Archimedes work, David Livingston’s diaries, and we use spectral imaging to reveal that text which is not seen by the naked eye.

Why isn’t that text visible? We’re talking about two different layers of writing here, right?

That is correct. It’s usually on parchment. And they’re written initially with an ink made out of the galls of oak trees and that’s been scraped off and overwritten. And in doing so, it’s preserved that text underneath it.

See the entire Marketplace story online.

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