A walk that is short the Ashmolean, the Centre essay writing service for the research of Ancient Documents (CSAD) is making waves through the Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies on St Giles’. The interview happens to be put up to learn more about new imaging technology which is getting used to show previously illegible ancient inscriptions.
I’m here to meet Dr Jane Massйglia, an Oxford alumna, former secondary teacher and now research fellow for AshLI (the Ashmolean Latin Inscription Project). Jane actively works to encourage general engagement that is public translating these ancient documents. There are lots of nice examples of this: calling out on Twitter for the interested public to have a stab at translating these ancient inscriptions.
The person that is second meeting today is Ben Altshuler, ‘our amazing RTI whizzkid.’ RTI, or Reflectance Transformation Imaging, could be the software used to decipher previously impenetrable inscriptions. Ben Altshuler, 20, has been dealing with CSAD on his gap before starting a Classics degree at Harvard later this year year.
What’s the remit of CSAD and just how did it turned out to be?
‘The centre started about 20 years ago,’ Jane informs me. ‘It was created out of several big projects involving original texts such as the Vindolanda tablets (a Roman site in northern England which includes yielded the oldest surviving handwritten documents in Britain). There was suddenly a necessity to house various projects that are different Classics taking a look at primary source material, and an expression that it was better joined up together. It makes sense: epigraphers, the people who study these ancient inscriptions – do things in a similar way with similar resources and technology.
‘in terms of what we do now, the centre currently holds a true number of projects like AshLI, the Corpus of Ptolemaic Inscriptions (CPI) together with Lexicon of Greek Personal Names (LGPN).
‘This is how it began,’ she says and shows me a “squeeze”.
The ‘squeezes’ are stored in large boxes that are stacked floor to ceiling in the middle.
‘a number of the ongoing work at the centre is in sifting and analysing what is in these archives. The new system is a great deal more accessible – in the immediate future we will manage to view the squeezes on a computer and, in the long term, there is talk of searchable indexes of RTI images and integration with open source and widely used commercial platforms, like Photoshop.’
Ben, how do you come to be so associated with CSAD at 20?
‘In the previous few many years of High School I took part in an oral history project organised by the Classics Conclave and American Philological Association,’ Ben informs me. ‘While we were interviewing classicists at Oxford, Roger Michel, the top for the Conclave, saw a number of places into the University and surrounding museums where technology that is new thrive. I happened to be offered a two-year sponsorship at the CSAD as an imaging expert when you look at the fall following my graduation, and I also spent the final year building up technical expertise to supply the required support within my operate in Oxford.
‘from the classical language side so I came into it. I quickly saw that to be very successful in epigraphy takes years of experience. But with RTI you can master the technology in a amount that is relatively short of. I could make a much bigger impact providing the technical skills and processed images for established classicists to the office on employing their language expertise.’
Ben shows me a video he is made from the different effects RTI can make in illuminating previously indecipherable texts (or, in this case, a coin).
Here prominent classist Mary Beard interviews Ben as well as others at CSAD to learn more exactly how RTI is being used in order to make new discoveries possible within Humanities.