Thursday, 8 March 2012

As If By Magic!

TOPOI House, from where I write this post
The interdisciplinary environment created by the COFUND programme here at Freie Universitat is something I am quite excited about. To be able to work at the intersection of the Excellence Cluster TOPOI and the Institute for Ancient Near Eastern Studies, as well as the Egyptology Department presents opportunities for taking my research on early writing and art in new directions.

Given that this is the first year of the COFUND fellowships, the procedures and infrastructure to support such interdisciplinary work are undergoing refinement. With the help and advice of excellent staff in the collaborating departments, we have been figuring out how to get my research funding administered. When establishing new networks, a period of settling in simply comes with the territory, so my recounting this is by no means a criticism. In fact, having been based in the UK HE system for years, seeing how the German system operates is super valuable. I need to learn what is required when bringing together different project partners in this academic environment since one of my goals is--by the end of the fellowship in May 2013--to have developed and achieved funding for a follow-on project involving RTI (...fingers and toes crossed!).

So, beyond literature survey and a bit of writing, the past couple of days have been dedicated to ensuring I can finish assembling my RTI gear and fund research and conference travel. Then I can set about organising my museum visits in earnest to the Louvre, UCL Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, British Museum, Ashmolean Museum, the Berlin Museums of course--and all being well with the events in Egypt--the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

During each museum visit I will be doing RTI on about a dozen objects. The type of RTI I will do is called 'Highlight RTI' or H-RTI--and as I'll explain in my next post, is quite versatile since it does not require a lighting dome. Here is an example of some of the H-RTI kit I will shortly be ordering in for my COFUND project.

This equipment belongs to the University of Oxford who kindly lent it for my H-RTI fieldwork at Qubbet el-Hawa, Aswan with the University of Jaen this past Jan-Feb. Oh look...Antonia, our little Abyssinian kitteh thinks she can haz RTI too!

H-RTI in action at Qubbet el-Hawa in the magnificent Middle Kingdom tomb of Sarenput II. Here I am taking some 50 photographs, while applying the flash in different positions, of the decorated rim of a ceramic New Kingdom jar found in a neighbouring tomb last year. Sarenput II's tomb provided an excellent 'lab' space this kind of work--much to his objection I'm sure! For a virtual tour of his grand tomb, check out the 360° view for Tomb 31). 

With a high quality camera, hand-held flash and various other small gizmos, plus a laptop, these together will constitute my mobile laboratory for data capture, image processing and analysis. H-RTI might look like conventional digital photography in many respects, but there is a neat twist that I will explain in due course for readers not familiar with this technique. In a nut shell, careful manipulation of shadow and light can make the invisible visible! David Blaine (or equally Copperfield) -- eat your heart(s) out!


  1. i was attending a wonderful lecture which you held at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo about using such high technology Camera in archaeology field and i was recorded all the lecture in my camera as well, thanks Kathryn

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