From the Italian Press 05/03/09

Scanning the Italian ‘papers’ …

A Roman bridge is being excavated in Parma:

Plans to build an archaeological park at Tivoli (about time!):

… and plans for Pompeii (I don’t quite understand what’s new in this one):

Assorted small finds recovered from a house in Taranto:

Somewhat larger finds from a bust at Matera:

Similiter at Tarquinia:

… and at the Grotta di Entella (Sicily):

Complaining (it seems) about the inaccessibility of assorted (interesting) Roman tombs beneath the Chiesa dello Spirito Santo:

Very brief account of a conference on Ostia Antica:

In the wake of the damage to the Baths of Caracalla in that earthquake, politicians are pointing fingers and blaming each other:

… and the site of Amiternum has reopened:

They’re trying (it seems) to incorporate the Colosseum somehow into the Champions League final on May 27, but it’s controversial:

Catalogging the Catacombs

A lengthy item from the BBC is sure to generate a lot of interest; here’s a bit in medias res:

The leader of the project, Dr Norbert Zimmerman of the Vienna Academy of Sciences, was behind the idea to use laser scanners to record every part of the Catacombs.

His scanner, which looks like a cylinder on a tripod, stands a metre or so high and is a piece of kit you usually find in the construction industry.

Gone are the days when archaeologists just used shovels, brushes and sieves to unearth the past.

The scanner has been placed in hundreds of different locations in the Catacombs.

It turns slowly, sending out millions of light pulses that bounce off every surface they come into contact with. The light pulses rebound back into the scanner and are recorded on a computer as a series of white dots, known as a “point cloud”.

Gradually, every wall, ceiling, and floor is bombarded with the dots, enabling the computer to build up a picture of each room.

Eventually, the computer completes a 360-degree, three-dimensional, moving image of that room, with every surface looking like it is made up of small white dots.

At the same time a camera on the scanner takes a picture of each surface. That information is also fed into the computer enabling colour to be added to “fill in” the dots.

‘Real data’

When the process is finished, it looks like an actual film of the particular room in question.

In all, four billion dots were recorded, enabling practically the whole catacomb to be documented in this way. Only a handful of small spaces were left out because it simply was not possible to get the scanner in.

… there are all sorts of photos at the site; in theory, I’ve embedded a relevant bbc video below:

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An incredibly interesting application of technology to the stuff within our purview …