Tuesday, July 10, 2012

From turbines to Tetricus: engineering technology reveals secrets of Roman coins

Archae­ol­o­gists and engi­neers from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Southamp­ton are col­lab­o­rat­ing with the British Muse­um to exam­ine buried Roman coins using the lat­est X-ray imag­ing tech­nol­o­gy.

Orig­i­nal­ly designed for the analy­sis of sub­stan­tial engi­neer­ing parts, such as jet tur­bine blades, the pow­er­ful scan­ning equip­ment at Southamp­ton's µ-VIS Cen­tre for Com­put­ed Tomog­ra­phy is being used to exam­ine Roman coins buried in three archae­o­log­i­cal arte­facts from three UK hoards.

The cen­tre's equip­ment can scan inside objects – rotat­ing 360 degrees whilst tak­ing thou­sands of 2D images, which are then used to build detailed 3D images. In the case of the coins, the excep­tion­al­ly high energy/high res­o­lu­tion com­bi­na­tion of the Southamp­ton facil­i­ties allows them to be exam­ined in intri­cate detail with­out the need for phys­i­cal exca­va­tion or clean­ing. For those recent­ly scanned at Southamp­ton, it has been pos­si­ble to use 3D com­put­er visu­al­i­sa­tion capa­bil­i­ties to read inscrip­tions and iden­ti­fy depic­tions of emper­ors on the faces of the coins – for exam­ple on some, the heads of Claudius II and Tet­ri­cus I have been revealed.

Via http://www.heritagedaily.com/2012/07/from-turbines-to-tetricus-engineering-technology-reveals-secrets-of-roman-coins/