Jul 15, 2015

Archaeology meets modern scanning technology for preservation and re-use

Submitted by Annemiek van der Kuil, edited by Inna Kouper

Image from "The strange case of 60 frothy beads: puzzling Early Iron Age glass beads from the Netherlands" conference paper by D.J. Huisman et al.
Dr. Dominique Ngan-Tillard, a professor at the Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences at Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands, has deposited a dataset into the 3TU.Datacentrum repository that contains tomography scans of early Iron Age glass beads found during the archaeological excavations in the Netherlands.

The dataset supports a conference publication by Dr. Ngan-Tillard and others “The strange case of 60 frothy beads: puzzling Early Iron Age glass beads from the Netherlands”. The micro-CT scans helped to identify gas bubbles and mineral and metal inclusions in the glass beads, which allowed the researchers to conclude that “the Zutphen glass beads are the result of local, inexpert, reworking of imported glass objects” (p. 231, conference paper).

In addition to the in-depth analysis of the beads’ structure, the scans serve as a form of virtual preservation of the ornaments. Stored in a data repository and made publicly available, they can help other archaeologists, as well as material scientists and museums in their research and educational activities. In the future 3D prints of the ornaments can be produced for a better understanding of the art of making glass and jewels.

According to Dr. Ngan-Tillard’ comment on the 3TU.Datacentrum website, storing digital collections of archaeological remains together with their meta-data and interpretation will help advance both arts and research and create more challenges for our knowledge.

Watch a short video about frothy beads or see the full story at http://datacentrum.3tu.nl/en/researchers-about-3tudatacentrum/showcase-ngan-tillard/