doi: 10.1685/journal.caim.361

Digital reconstruction of fragmented glass plate photographs: the case of archaeological photography

Filippo Stanco, Davide Tanasi, Giovanni Gallo


During a recent digitalization project of the textual and iconographical fund of Department of Archaeology Library of the Catania University, one of the largest and oldest between Italian academies, a serious problem was represented by the iconographical resources on glass plates coated by silver halide. The Library has an archive of about 3000 glass plates taken between the last two decades of the '800 and the first half of the '900, depicting the masterpieces of Greek and Roman art and documenting the excavation activities of the Department in Italy, North Africa, and Greece. Several of these plates are damaged and fractured and cannot be used for reproduction and cannot be properly digitalized. Even trying to acquire them with a scanner or with a digital camera, after a manual recomposing of the sherds, gaps and fracture lines will remain visible in the output because of an incorrect coincidence of the fragments or for the lost of the emulsion. In order to solve this problem and to quicken the process restoring a large amount of fractured glass plates, in this paper we propose an automatic method for the virtual restoration based on the use of image processing techniques. The algorithm reduces luminance artifacts originated by the interaction between the scanner light and the glass and then it performs an image registration using a roto-translation to align the different pieces. Finally, the algorithm eliminates possible pixels that are still in the gap using inpainting techniques that gives more realistic final images. Thanks to this methodology, with a synergic research work of experts in archaeology and image processing it will be possible to rescue this treasure of archaeological repertoires, otherwise lost, that represents an important part of the history of archaeological research of the Catania University.

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Communications in Applied and Industrial Mathematics
ISSN: 2038-0909