Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research IGD have developed CultLab3D: a streamlined 3D scanning system for the quick and easy digitization of 3D objects. The project aims to facilitate the mass digitization, annotation and storage of historical artifacts in museums and other places of preservation.
Digital preservation is one of the most important methods of sustaining our cultural history. Without it, there would be no way to safeguard precious historical texts, artifacts and information. Before the mass digitization of historical texts through 2D scanning, a simple accident or theft could have eradicated a piece of history forever. Several books of the Christian Bible, for instance, have been simply lost to time, as all physical copies of the “Book of the Battles of Yahweh” and the “Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah” were destroyed. Homer’s Margites, preceding the Iliad and the Odyssey, has been obliterated from history in a similar manner, as the few existing copies of the epic poem perished with Ancient Greece itself. Thankfully, if a worthy book is discovered today, it can theoretically remain discoverable for all time. This is because digital preservation enables the digital archiving of written texts, as well as the easy duplication of those digital files. Even if the British Library were to burn down overnight, the majority of its contents would at least be digitally preserved. Digital preservation of texts is one thing, but the preservation of physical artifacts is quite another. Think about the following: How does a photograph of the Rosetta Stone compare to the object itself, in terms of historical value? Although the reasons are difficult to explain, the answer is obvious: the unique object itself has an infinitely superior intrinsic historical value than the mere photo. It is the Rosetta Stone. Though incredibly valuable in its own way, the digital preservation of the Rosetta Stone through photography is somehow less reassuring than the digital preservation of historical texts.