Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Multispectral Imaging of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri

In an earlier post, we discussed the possibility that scholars from BYU had uncovered a new ending to Mark's gospel. The report turned out to be an unfortunate error on the part of a journalism student. The Oxyrhynchus Project has posted images and flash animations which document the type of results which were reached, here.

The results are impressive. I wonder to what degree similar results could be reached with a high resolution scan and a program like photoshop. I have used these to edit a bit of a Bohairic psalter with results similar to what I am seeing here. Unfortunately, there are no images of the work done on the carbonized papyri.


  1. I think that a lot can be done with photoshop and good digital images. MSI is not magic, and it is not really multispectral for the most part - it is more finding the particular spectrum which enables the text to be seen most clearly.
    There was an interesting presentation about the use of Photoshop with Codex W at SBL (Tim Brown, see http://evangelicaltextualcriticism.blogspot.com/2006/11/live-from-sbl-in-washington.html).

    For an earlier post linking to a fairly full discussion on this subject see http://evangelicaltextualcriticism.blogspot.com/2006/08/griffin-on-digital-imaging.html

    Also worth reading:

  2. See also this BBC report of a new text (not related to the Bible) just discovered by multispectral imaging of a palimpsest. The live webcast is coming up in less than two hours. There may be a lot more to be found with such techniques.