Multispectral Imaging Leads to the Finding of Ancient Hebrew Inscriptions

Innovations and technological progress have begun to shed light on the history of the ancient world. Careful Camera calibration, and creative imaging techniques, can allow us to see artifacts from a new angle. Perhaps in few cases, that has become crystal clear, considering a recent multispectral imaging technique done on a nearly 2,600-year-old piece of pottery at The Israel Museum in Tel Aviv.

The simple shard of pottery was found in 1965 in the former castle of Arad. On the front side, archaeologists could make out a clear inscription that included a blessing by Yahweh, as well as other notes from the era (historians and scholars have been studying the exact meaning of the transcription for decades).

The back portion of this ancient shard was completely blank. That is, until the progress of 21st century light imaging techniques revealed language hidden in the darkness.

An interdisciplinary team from the University of Tel Aviv have been working with this piece of pottery for years.  By using a sensitive multispectral imaging technique, they were surprised to find lines of script written secretly into the backside of the clay. Not only that, but the precise nature of the imagery allowed the teams to make out the writing on the front of the pot a bit better as well. The words revealed are a millennia old, some of the oldest human writing we have, and date back to 600 B.C.E. Every single letter is indeed a treasure, and window to a past world.

What did the hidden inscription say? “The newly revealed inscription features an administrative text, like most of the Arad inscriptions,” said Dr. Anat Mendel-Geberovich of TAU. Added scholar Arie Shaus: “The new inscription begins with a request for wine.”

The fortress of Arad was in fact a far flung military outpost that was destroyed around 586 B.C.E, just after the clay shard was written. Logistics were always critical, considering the pottery had requests for wine, assistance, flour, and oil. They seem to be specifically addressed to Elyashiv, known to scholars as the quartermaster of the fortress.

Scholars and scientists at TAU stressed the importance of not just the wording uncovered on this pottery, but of the potential for imaging techniques to be used on huge volumes of antiquities. Housed in the world’s universities and museums, we may very well have thousands of stories from our ancient history, but have only recently been in command of technology that can allow us to read them. This discovery in Tel Aviv was proof of words of millennia in the past, coming alive today, with the help of Camera calibration. If you want to know more about LED Calibration, check out our news section or contact us today.

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