CSAD Newsletter 9, Winter 2002

Imaging the Vindolanda Ink Tablets

In February 2000 Dr. John Pearce began a programme of digitally photographing all the ink tablets from Vindolanda at the British Museum store in the Old Post Office Building in Blythe Road, Hammersmith, as part of the AHRB-funded Vindolanda Writing Tablets project. The initial stages of the scanning programme were spent in calibrating the Centre's high-resolution PhaseOne Powerphase digital scanning camera for infra-red photography. The time invested in this process has proved fully justified since the quality of the images produced by the Powerphase digital camera is a significant improvement not only over the images obtained with a Kontron digital camera in 1996 (Newsletter 3), but in many cases over the excellent conventional infra-red film photographs taken by a professional photographer for the initial publications. The new images have allowed improved readings to be made of many of the previously published tablets as well as providing an indispensible aid in preparation of editions of the unpublished tablets for Volume III of Tabulae Vindolandenses.

The scanning programme continued through much of 2000 and 2001, to include both the published texts, including those on display in the Romano-British galleries in the British Museum, and the unpublished ink tablets excavated at Vindolanda during the 1990s. The capture of images of all published and unpublished ink tablets from Vindolanda has now been completed. Over 2300 images from the scanning programme have been archived on the University's Hierarchical File Server in TIFF format. JPEG versions of the images have been produced and made available to Dr Alan Bowman and Prof. David Thomas on CD for their work on TV Volume III. Images of all published tablets will be made available through the Internet during 2002 as part of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded Vindolanda tablets web site (for which see the report earlier in the Newsletter).

Dr. Pearce has also undertaken a survey of museum and other archaeological collections in Britain with a view to collating information on holdings of unpublished ink, stilus and lead writing-tablets.The results of the survey suggest that there is a considerable quantity of potentially interesting material to be studied.

The projected Corpus of Romano-British Writing-Tablets, to which all these projects will contribute, has been adopted as Roman Inscriptions of Britain Vol. IV by the Administrators of the Haverfield Bequest, under whose auspices Volumes I-III are published.


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Created on Monday, 04 February, 2002: 18:06:09