Technology Close to Cracking Oldest Undeciphered Writing System

Technology Close to Cracking Oldest Undeciphered Writing System

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Scientists from the University of Oxford and the University of Southampton have created a technique called reflectance transformation imaging that may help crack an ancient undeciphered writing system. The aim is to decipher manuscripts written in the so-called proto-Elamite writing system used in ancient Iran from 3,200 to 3,000 B.C.

British researchers say new technology may soon allow historians to crack the world’s oldest as-yet undeciphered system of writing. Scientists have developed a new imaging system to capture some of the world’s most important historical documents. The technique, dubbed reflectance transformation imaging, uses a dome with 76 lights and a camera positioned at the top of the dome. A manuscript is placed in the center of the dome as 76 photos are taken with one of the 76 lights individually lit for each exposure. The 76 images are then combined so that researchers can move the light across the surface of the digital image and use the difference between light and shadow to highlight never-before-seen details.

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