Biblical Archaeology Review 37:6, November/December 2011

Archaeological Views: New Eyeballs on Ancient Texts

By Bruce E. Zuckerman

The study of ancient texts—especially those that tell us most about the cultures from which the Bible emerged—is on the edge of a revolution. Dramatic new imaging technologies are just now becoming available that allow us to see and reclaim the readings of ancient documents in a manner never before possible.

One of these new technologies, called Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), allows for unprecedented control of how an image is displayed, especially in terms of the play of light so crucial to bringing out hidden details that are often the key to proper interpretation. For the first time, control of the light has been placed in the hands of the viewer rather than the photographer. In fact, an RTI image is almost like seeing the real thing—only it’s better.

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