Scanning artifacts with low risk using mobile industrial CT

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Indus­tri­al com­pu­ted tomo­gra­phy and arti­facts that can be seen in muse­ums — is that pos­si­ble? Sure they do! We explain in which cases indus­tri­al com­pu­ted tomo­gra­phy is used for muse­um coll­ec­tions and in archaeology.

Artifacts: Why is industrial computed tomography being used on them? 

Taking a non-des­truc­ti­ve look insi­de objects — that’s exact­ly what indus­tri­al com­pu­ted tomo­gra­phy makes pos­si­ble. This is very useful for archaeo­lo­gists and rese­arch teams, becau­se unco­ve­ring and clea­ning archaeo­lo­gi­cal arti­facts can take many months. In addi­ti­on to the long peri­od of time requi­red to unco­ver valuable anci­ent objects, the­re is also the risk that the arti­facts or their con­tents (such as neck­laces, amu­lets) will be dama­ged or crum­ble during this pro­cess. The­r­e­fo­re, out of an abun­dance of cau­ti­on, the arti­facts — often hoard finds — are not dis­as­sem­bled, but are trans­por­ted, inclu­ding the sur­roun­ding soil, into the CT scan­ner and scan­ned non-destructively.

Seve­ral arte­facts have alre­a­dy been scan­ned at Micro­vis­ta for bet­ter ana­ly­sis, inclu­ding many archaeo­lo­gi­cal finds made of metal from the Sax­o­ny-Anhalt Sta­te Office for the Pre­ser­va­ti­on of Monu­ments and Archaeo­lo­gy. Each time, the CT scans were able to pro­vi­de new insights into the artefacts.

In addi­ti­on, the vir­tu­al pro­ces­sing of arte­facts in the form of a holo­gram is pos­si­ble using indus­tri­al com­pu­ter tomo­gra­phy. In this way, found objects can be ani­ma­ted for muse­um visi­tors and their func­tion can be expe­ri­en­ced.

All in all, indus­tri­al com­pu­ted tomo­gra­phy can con­tri­bu­te to a more com­pre­hen­si­ve under­stan­ding of anci­ent finds, which helps to bet­ter under­stand past cul­tures, their way of life as well as their crafts. Indus­tri­al CT scans can be used to crea­te three-dimen­sio­nal models of objects, show­ing their inter­nal struc­tures, mate­ri­al com­po­si­ti­on and manu­fac­tu­ring tech­ni­ques. For exam­p­le, the CT images of anci­ent cera­mic ves­sels can reve­al what type of pot­tery tech­ni­que was used and whe­ther the­re were any repairs. This allows us to infer the time peri­od when the ves­sel was made. In addi­ti­on, the rese­arch teams gain an important indi­ca­ti­on of the authen­ti­ci­ty of the arte­fact in this way, as for­ge­ries can be quick­ly unmasked.

We have picked out two more examp­les whe­re indus­tri­al com­pu­ted tomo­gra­phy has hel­ped to gain new insights into archaeo­lo­gi­cal finds:

In York­shire, UK, for exam­p­le, a lum­ped ves­sel con­tai­ning anci­ent coins dating back to the 2nd cen­tu­ry was found. The use of CT X‑rays enab­led the rese­arch team to iden­ti­fy and ana­ly­ze the coins within a few days. The indus­tri­al CT scan even reve­a­led inscrip­ti­ons as well as the heads of Roman rulers.

Long-exhi­bi­ted mum­mies in Egypt were also scan­ned, in which valuable tre­asu­res were found. The so-cal­led “gol­den boy”, dating back to 330 BC, was dis­co­ver­ed in Upper Egypt as ear­ly as 1916 and was on dis­play in the Egyp­ti­an Muse­um in Cai­ro until the CT scans. It was dis­co­ver­ed that the boy, who was pro­ba­b­ly 15 years old, was ador­ned with 49 amu­lets to pro­tect him during his jour­ney to the after­li­fe — accor­ding to the beliefs of the anci­ent Egyptians.

Artefakt- Schwertmarke im CT sichtbar
CT macht von außen unsicht­ba­re Schwert­mar­ke sichtbar

What are the advantages of an industrial mobile CT for obtaining knowledge about artifacts? 

The use of an indus­tri­al CT offers archaeo­lo­gi­cal teams time savings and a high infor­ma­ti­on gain about the scan­ned arti­fact. But the con­ven­tio­nal CT scan also car­ri­es risks: The valuable finds — often fra­gi­le — must be very spe­ci­al­ly pro­tec­ted in order to be trans­por­ted to the CT. In addi­ti­on to this gre­at logi­sti­cal effort, high insu­rance sums are also incur­red to pro­tect the muse­um pie­ce. In most cases, the com­plex trans­port is accom­pa­nied by an expe­ri­en­ced per­son who can give the CT experts ins­truc­tions on how to hand­le the arti­fact so that no dama­ge occurs. This incurs addi­tio­nal tra­vel costs.

Micro­vis­ta has now deve­lo­ped a solu­ti­on that coun­ter­acts all the­se risks and ensu­res a fast, safe and cost-effec­ti­ve CT scan: With the mobi­le CT sys­tem SCANEXPRESS, objects are scan­ned on site at the customer’s pre­mi­ses. The ren­tal peri­od of the mobi­le CT is fle­xi­ble — the mini­mum ren­tal peri­od is one month. The con­tai­ner in which the CT sys­tem is loca­ted is dri­ven to the desi­red loca­ti­on by truck and is so spa­cious that valuable objects can be trans­por­ted in safe­ly and secu­re­ly. A radia­ti­on pro­tec­tion area insi­de the con­tai­ner is also pro­vi­ded.
After each inspec­tion, the­re is a real-time eva­lua­ti­on with AI and an auto­ma­tic report that pro­vi­des direct infor­ma­ti­on about the con­di­ti­on of the artifact.

Seve­ral arti­facts have alre­a­dy been X‑rayed at Micro­vis­ta for bet­ter ana­ly­sis, inclu­ding many metal archaeo­lo­gi­cal finds from the Sax­o­ny-Anhalt Sta­te Office for the Pre­ser­va­ti­on of Monu­ments and Archaeo­lo­gy. Each time, the indus­tri­al CT scans have been able to pro­vi­de new insights into the arti­facts.

In addi­ti­on, the vir­tu­al pro­ces­sing of arti­facts in the form of a holo­gram is pos­si­ble using indus­tri­al com­pu­ted tomo­gra­phy. In this way, found objects can be ani­ma­ted for muse­um visi­tors and their func­tion can be expe­ri­en­ced and experienced.

Over­all, indus­tri­al com­pu­ted tomo­gra­phy can help to gain a more com­pre­hen­si­ve under­stan­ding of anci­ent finds, which helps to bet­ter under­stand past cul­tures, their way of life as well as their crafts. Indus­tri­al CT scans can be used to crea­te three-dimen­sio­nal models of objects that show their inter­nal struc­tures, mate­ri­al com­po­si­ti­on, and manu­fac­tu­ring tech­ni­ques. For exam­p­le, indus­tri­al CT scans of anci­ent cera­mic ves­sels can reve­al what type of pot­tery tech­ni­que was used and whe­ther repairs were pre­sent. This sug­gests the time peri­od when the ves­sel was made. In addi­ti­on, rese­arch teams gain an important indi­ca­ti­on of the authen­ti­ci­ty of the arti­fact in this way, as for­ge­ries can be quick­ly revealed.

Advantages of the SCANEXPRESS for museums:

We have sum­ma­ri­zed how the mobi­le CT sys­tem works in this video: SCANEXPRESS — How does the mobi­le CT work? | Microvista

Are you inte­res­ted in using the SCANEXPRESS or would you like to ask our team some ques­ti­ons? Here you can find our cont­act per­sons: Cont­act for NDT with indus­tri­al CT | Microvista

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