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Topics in Preservation Series

Photo of Abraham Lincoln which has deteriorated Photo of Conservator treating  poster photo of old book photo of film case and film which has totally deteriorated

Hyperspectral Imaging of the Waldseemuller 1507 World Map:
The development of hyperspectral imaging and its application to preservation issues

March 14, 2008, 1:30 - 3:00 p.m.
Pickford Theater, 3rd floor James Madison Building


The development of hyperspectral imaging has been of intense interest in its application to issues of preservation for items of cultural heritage. Dr. Roger Easton and others have been involved with the imaging of a range of significant artifacts including the Archimedes Palimpsest, the Temple Scroll, the longest of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Khaboris Codex - the oldest known copy of the New Testament, and the Sarvamoola granthas manuscripts incised on palm leaves using a metal stylus and the characters filled with ink.

The Waldseemuller 1507 world map is the first known existing map that shows the word "America" on the western continent. In December 2007, it went on permanent exhibition in the NW pavilion of the Jefferson building as part of the Exploring the Early Americas exhibition. Just prior to its enclosure in an anoxic environment for this permanent display, Preservation Directorate undertook a digital analysis project involving the hyperspectral imaging of all 12 sheets of the map as part of the preservation analysis.

Hyperspectral imaging involves imaging in a large number of distinct narrow wavelength band regions of the spectrum – from ultra-violet through visible to infrared, as opposed to multi-spectral imaging that is a few broad wavelength bands. These hyperspectral images contain a wealth of information, but require significant interpretation to process and analyze the data collected.

This presentation will explore the history and development of conservation-safe hyperspectral imaging. Dr. France will also address specific issues of relevance to the Waldseemuller 1507 world map and the potential application of this non-destructive, non-invasive analytical technique to preservation issues for storage and display of significant cultural heritage items - paper & parchment in particular.


Dr. Roger Easton photoDr. Roger L. Easton, Imaging Scientist
Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science
Rochester Institute of Technology

Roger L. Easton, Jr. received the B.S. degree in Astronomy from Haverford College, the M.S. in physics from the University of Maryland, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Optical Sciences from the University of Arizona. He is on the faculty of the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in linear systems, optical imaging, and digital image processing. His research interests include the application of digital image processing to text documents and manuscripts, optical signal processing, and computer-generated holography.


Dr Fenella France photoDr. Fenella G. France
Visiting Scientist, Preservation Research and Testing Division
Library of Congress

Fenella G. France received her Ph.D from Otago University, New Zealand, and MBA from Deakin University, Australia. After lecturing at Otago, she was the research scientist for the Star-Spangled Banner project at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History. As an international specialist on protein aging and object deterioration, she focuses on links between mechanical properties and chemical changes from environmental damage with the development of a comparative deterioration framework for artifacts. Dr. France has worked as an independent research scientist on projects such as the World Trade Centre artifacts, Ellis Island Immigration Museum, Andean mummies, and continued work with the Star-Spangled Banner. She also supports the development of lighting standards focusing on controlling the environmental for preservation requirements, serving on a range of standards and professional committees. She is currently a Visiting Scientist at the Library of Congress Preservation Directorate researching anoxic and other storage and exhibition environments such as the Waldseemuller 1507 Map and other top treasures.