There is an archaeological adage that says that “excavation is destruction.” Digging into ancient strata to examine buried artifacts is considered an important but irreversible process. A team of archaeologists and engineers at the University of Southampton brings that importance into question.
The Southampton and British Museum team has developed a means of scanning and visualizing buried artifacts using X-ray imaging originally designed for use with mechanical engineering projects. The team scanned 2nd and 3rd century C.E. artifacts including a cremation urn and a concreted hoard of Roman gold coins weighing over 200 pounds. By taking thousands of pictures while rotating the angle 360 degrees, the project was able to read inscriptions and view the faces on coins still unexcavated inside an urn.
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