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VCU Archaeology

Beyond Books at the Library of Congress: 3D Scanning Ancient Cuneiform

by Bernard K. Means

At the invitation of Lee Ann Potter, Director of Educational Outreach at the Library of Congress (LOC), I spent much of Wednesday, June 6, 2018, in the LOC’s African and Middle Eastern Reading Room. We were accompanied by: Stephen Wesson, Educational Resources Specialist at LOC; Matt Poth, LOC Teacher in Residence 2017-18; Kendall Deese, LOC Junior Fellow; and, Alexis Alexander, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) Intern. Our goal was to 3-D scan three pieces represented of the world’s oldest writing system. These Sumerian  tablets were selected by Matt Poth, who intends on using them in his classes. The goal is to make them public at a future date.

The tablets included a tablet dating from the Reign of Gudea of Lagash to Shalmanassar III. Due to time constraints, only one scan was made.


Also 3D scanned was a votive cone inscription dating to the Reign of Gudea of Lagash (2144-2124 B.C.)


Finally, a clay bulla also dating from the from the Reign of Gudea of Lagash to Shalmanassar III was 3D scanned.  The color capture of this object was compromised so it is presented without its color.


On the way to the reading room,  we stopped by the Maya were-jaguar sculpture I 3D scanned on an earlier visit.  I had given Lee Ann a smaller version that I had 3D printed the day before.

bkm_2018-06-06 09.42.48





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