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The same technology used to make prosthetic limb  is now being used to clone some of the world's earliest manuscript from Mesopotamia, an area near modern day Iraq. When the us invaded Iraq in 2003, thousands of artifacts  were  stolen from museums in Baghdad. Those losses include tens of thousands of tablets made by Samarian as early as 5000 years ago . These cuneiform tablets were some of the oldest known documents in the world which recorded everything from laws to simple business transactions.

The project, run by  Pisi University's Assyriology department and Italian agency for new technologies, energy and environment, is called duplication and rebirth. It used a  process call rapid photo-typing to create the virtual and physical reproductions of the antiques.

Today the team has recorded about the 20 thousand  artifacts borrowed by private western collections, they use photographs, bibliographical references and  when possible 3D images to catalogue each piece.

Here is a 3-dimensional scanner, we use it to create  3D models of the cuneiform tablets . As you can see, a tablet, in this case a copy, is zipped by laser ray which scans the surface to obtain points to build the 3-D image.  The data from the scanner is acquired through software which allows us to build 3-demensional model. This data is necessary for the rapid photo-typing to work, but can also be used to recreate a virtual  copy of the tablet which can be viewed on the computer or over the internet.

Data that is collected is then used in rapid photo-typing. Layers of thermoplastic are  built  up  to recreate a precise replica  of the original . With these machines, it is possible to make physical model of a tablet, and it is possible to make this tablet layer by layer. The layer is very small,  because it's 0.8mm.  The 3-demensional model are especially useful, because the tablet is written  front back and sides,  requiring one to rotate them to read the full text.

For discovery news, I am Matt Dansco.





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