Lazarus Project

William A. Christens-Barry (left), chief scientist with Equipoise Imaging, aims an LED light array so the light passes through the center of the corresponding diffusion panel and onto the camera platform. Roger L. Easton Jr., professor at the Center for Imaging Science at the Rochester Institute of Technology, and University of Mississippi professor Gregory Heyworth assist with the alignment as Ole Miss students Kristen Vise (at computer) Andrew Henning and Mitchell Hobbs watch from the other end of the table. Observing the setup are John Hessler (left, behind computer) and Chet Van Duzer of the Library of Congress. UM photo by Robert Jordan.

Up to now, the area that has become known as Digital Humanities has been focused primarily on large-scale digitization projects of historical manuscripts and printed documents. The goal of these projects is typically to reproduce the visual appearance of the text and sometimes to approximate the experience of reading the actual document. The Lazarus project intends to explore a complementary path to these efforts by taking advantage of the recent advance of imaging technology. New tools for illumination, new lenses, new sensors, computing hardware, and algorithms for image processing now allow imagery to be generated from texts that have been damaged or erased, including palimpsests and documents that have been charred by fire, faded to invisibility, stained or washed by water. Some examples of high-profile success are rather well known, such as the Archimedes Palimpsest project, but these have chiefly been large-scale and costly efforts.

Because multispectral imaging technology is relatively new and evolving rapidly, individual manuscript researchers as well as small and mid-size institutions with manuscript collections have not been able to gain access to a fully equipped spectral imaging laboratory. More importantly, those few multispectral labs in existence are proprietary and are not transportable. The lab owned by the Lazarus Project, however, was designed specifically to be transportable.

The main goal of the Lazarus Project is to provide researchers and institutions access to the lab and a staff of trained operators and image processors, anywhere in the world, and to do so free of charge. Interested researchers or institutions with compelling projects are invited to contact us with a research proposal. We are happy to serve as a component of larger projects and grant proposals.

Last Updated: 01/16/2013