A bearded face stares back from the image above. From the photograph below, it’s hard to distinguish the face at all—although the photograph depicts the same object, a Hellenistic oil lamp excavated during the 2014 season at Bethsaida, Israel, by director Rami Arav and his team.1 The lamp came from Area A West, which was supervised by Dr. Carl Savage of Drew University.
The first image was taken using Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), a new technology developed to show the texture of a surface. RTI images are created by taking numerous photos of an object from the same angle—but with lighting from different directions—and then compiling them to create a single image with much depth.
RTI often reveals new information about an object’s surface that is not known from looking at an ordinary photograph or even by looking at the object itself.
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