multispectral imaging of an ancient stone stela.

News from the Conservation Lab — Work in Progress

By Caroline Roberts, Conservator

 Conservators wield some impressive photo-processing skills, in no small part because of the extensive photographic documentation we do in our work. We use our image-processing skills for research purposes, too.

Right now I’m taking multispectral photos of limestone funerary stelae from the Roman Egyptian city of Terenouthis so that I can begin to characterize the pigments that were used to paint them. Pigments reflect, absorb, and/or luminesce ultraviolet, visible, and infrared light in characteristic ways, but capturing a good image of these photo-chemical responses can be challenging.

Luckily we have access to the British Museum’s Technical Imaging web resource, a free downloadable toolkit that includes image setup, capture, and post-processing guidelines. The BM’s protocol has become an essential part of our own multispectral imaging setup, and an important research tool in my survey of color on the Kelsey’s stone collection.

multispectral imaging of an ancient stone stela.
Left: Limestone funerary stela KM 21107 from Terenouthis, Egypt, late 2nd–early 4th century CE, during multispectral image capture. Right: Infrared / visible image alignment in the British Museum technical imaging workspace.

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