Monday, November 06, 2006

Nerds to the rescue U. of I., USC students collaborating on unique archaeology project
Six students at the University of Illinois are wearing white gloves in class this semester. They’re learning to handle issues of age and fragility with aplomb and to make excellent first impressions.

The undergraduates are doing original research on a U. of I. collection of small signature stones that artisan scribes crafted up to 5,000 years ago. The research involves, among other things, examining, analyzing and documenting each item in minute detail, X-raying them, and rolling them out on soft clay, just as the original owners did when they needed to seal a deal, endorse and verify transactions.

Best part is that they are laser ranging all of them, both in a flat view of what the seal looks like rolled out and a 3D one in the round. They're also annotating them with (apparently) notes from a former researcher (Porada) and their own observations, so researchers anywhere can call up all of the info from the Web. Not sure what the x-rays are for though (that is, what they'll get out of them).