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Advanced Testing Technology Meets Art Conservation: NTS lab assists in the digital exploration of medieval boxwood sculptures.

March 29, 2017

Thanks to the help and participation of our NTS Chesapeake Non-destructive Imaging Laboratory (formerly Chesapeake Testing), researchers have made advances in the study of medieval boxwood sculptures. The pieces are currently being featured in the exhibition Small Wonders: Gothic Boxwood Miniatures at the Met Cloisters, the branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art dedicated to medieval art and architecture.

These intricately carved objects, some over 500 years old, are simply miraculous in the level of detail created in such small objects. The 3D digital data captured via micro CT scanning helped researchers shed light on the techniques and craftsmanship required to construct these pieces of art with such fine detail.

Micro CT scanning, much like medical CAT scan imaging, uses the material penetrating properties of x-rays to provide information from within an object, whiteout any destructive effects. Unlike medical CAT scanning, micro CT has the ability to obtain extremely high resolution images, thanks to the use of highly focused x-ray sources and higher resolution imaging panels.

This data gives historians and researchers a unique ability to virtually cross section the artifacts, without any risk of damage. In addition to being able to analyze the internal structure, the scanning process also captures full 3D surface information which can be used later on to 3D print replicas and allow for enriched public interaction with these delicate pieces of medieval history.

To learn more about these fantastic carvings, visit The Met website here: http://www.metmuseum.org/press/exhibitions/2016/small-wonders. The exhibition runs from February 22 through May 21, 2017.

190.473 ROSARY BEAD: SURFACE MODEL CREATED FROM 3D CT SCAN SHOWS HIGH LEVEL OF DETAIL DEPICTED IN CARVED SCENES. SURFACE DATA FROM THESE SCANS

17.190.473 ROSARY BEAD: CT DATA ALLOWS RESEARCHERS TO VIRTUALLY CROSS SECTION THE ARTIFACTS, PROVIDING A NEVER BEFORE SEEN VIEW INSIDE

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