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Unwrapping and Visualizing Cuneiform Tablets

"Abstract: Thousands of historically revealing cuneiform clay tablets, which were inscribed in Mesopotamia millenia ago, still exist today. Visualizing cuneiformwriting is important when deciphering what is written on the tablets. It is also important when reproducing the tablets in papers and books. Unfortunately, scholars have found photographs to be an inadequate visualization tool, for two reasons. First, the text wraps around the sides of sometablets, so a single viewpoint is insufficient. Second, a raking light will illuminate some textual features, but will leave others shadowed or invisiblebecause they are either obscured by features on the tablet or are nearly aligned with the lighting direction. We present solutions to these problems by firstcreating a high-resolution 3D computer model from laser range data, then unwrapping and flattening the inscriptions on the model to a plane, allowing usto represent them as a scalar displacement map, and finally, rendering this map non-photorealistically using accessibility and curvature coloring. Theoutput of this semi-automatic process enables all of a tablet''s text to be perceived in a single concise image. Our technique can also be applied to othertypes of inscribed surfaces, including bas-reliefs. "

Author(s):  Anderson, Sean Eron; Levoy , Marc
Format:  Article
Publisher:  Stanford Computer Graphics Laboratory
Publication City:  Stanford