Rijksmuseum van Oudheden
Documentary and Publications on 200 Years of Research.
The Rijksmuseum of Antiquities is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year, a special milestone. Amidst the festive jubilee exhibition and the impressive series of 200 events taking place, the daily work of the museum continues unabated.
In a captivating documentary series, I take viewers behind the scenes, where contemporary researchers cast their enlightening gaze on our rich past. The series consists of 10 episodes, each highlighting a different ongoing research project. From archaeological excavations to in-depth analyses of historical artifacts, the documentaries provide a profound insight into the dedicated world of the research team.
My role as both a writer and photographer enables me to capture not only the factual results of the research but also the human stories and passions behind each project.
The Rijksmuseum of Antiquities remains a source of inspiration and knowledge, and with these documentaries, we aim to bridge the gap between the past and the present. It is a privilege to be part of this historic jubilee and to share the museum's rich legacy with a global audience.
The entire series consists of 10 episodes featuring 10 different research projects. These were published in various media, including the Leidsch Dagblad.
Scanning for Syria – In the Words of Curator Lucas Petit
Lucas: "In the Syrian Tell Sabi Abyad, archaeologists from the National Museum of Antiquities (RMO) and Leiden University excavated hundreds of clay tablets with cuneiform texts. These are essentially short letters from a governor, comparable to a modern-day text message.
For example, there was an order for forty liters of beer for a celebration. Or the shepherds were expected to come to the governor to report on their travels, and if they didn't show up, they would receive 100 lashes. These 'notes' provide important information about daily life in the Assyrian Empire.
The clay tablets were cleaned, photographed, and molds were made of some to study the cuneiform writing. The original tablets were stored in the archaeological museum in Raqqa, but they have disappeared and may have been destroyed by the IS regime.
Since the original clay tablets no longer exist, our molds have become very valuable. However, they are fragile and will slowly deteriorate over time. That would be a great loss. Therefore, Leiden University, Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), the Leiden Delft Erasmus Centre, and the RMO initiated the Scanning for Syria project.
Together, we developed a technique to create 3D scans and 3D prints from the molds. Initially, we scanned the molds by taking 1,400 images of one full rotation of 360 degrees. An algorithm was then used to create a single file. This may sound simple, but it is a complex system.
We now have plastic replicas that are identical to the original clay tablets. The cuneiform writing on the tablets can only be read properly if you can move the tablet with your hand. By using changing light conditions, you can discern the characters and study the texts. With Scanning for Syria, we ensure that important information is preserved, protecting cultural heritage."