Exhibition Scanning for Syria in National Museum of Antiquities

News - 06 June 2018

Starting 7 June, the ‘Scanning for Syria’ project will be exhibited at the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden. IDE researcher Tessa Essers is participating in this project. The war in Syria has destroyed or severely damaged a large amount of Syrian cultural heritage. The hundreds of clay tablets containing information about daily life in Tell Sabi Ayyad (ca. 1200 B.C.), in what is now northern Syria, are among the damaged and/or partially destroyed artifacts. 3D-printed tablets, the molds and one of the 3D scanners will be on display.

Luckily, molds of these tablets, made by Dutch archeologists between 1986 and 2010, still exist. Jouke Verlinden (formerly of IDE) and Dominique Ngan-Tillard (CEG) started the ‘Scanning for Syria’ in collaboration with the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for Global Heritage and Leiden University in order to develop techniques for scanning these fragile plastic molds. The goal was to create digital versions of the molds that can be kept longer and at the same time reconstruct the tablets using 3D-printing.

The digital models of these tablets have now been reproduced with several different 3D-printing techniques by Tessa Essers. One interesting challenge was printing in ceramics, which required additional baking. At the exposition, both the 3D-printed tablets as the molds will be on display, as well as one of the 3D scanners.