Tried to come up with a tablet pun. Failed.

I took a look at hunter blatherer today and realized that Sarah Butler is monopolizing it. To stop her from her evil plot to look more responsible and interesting than the rest of us, I have decided to post.

So not all archaeologists go out into the field in China and Greece and Turkey and heaven knows where else, breaking ground like rock stars and uncovering dead babies in pots. Some of them stay at home in Los Angeles, working in the archaeology lab, taking endless photographs of cuneiform tablets.

And by some, I mean me. Just me.

I’ve been creating PTM (polynomial texture mapping) images of some cuneiform tablets on loan from the Tandy Museum. This involves taking 32 images of each relevant side of the tablet, using 32 different light settings. The resulting images are then stitched together to create a high quality image in which the light can be moved around to reveal even the faintest of etchings. The technology is good enough to see fingerprints and tiny salt inclusions in the clay. Unfortunately, both taking the images and processing them take a very, very long time, so I have to find ways to entertain myself.

Sometimes, while the camera is automatically clicking away or the modified images are saving, I’ll have a dance party. Only when the other student, Bradford the chemistry guy, isn’t in the lab, of course. I don’t know how he would react. But then again, he’s been in the lab with me this whole summer and has ceased looking startled when I run by squawking and flapping my arms, so I guess maybe he’s immune by now.

Now that a high schooler named Danny is helping out with the images, I am no longer forced to seek entertainment in such disturbing and disruptive ways. Finally, I have someone to talk to and harass and terrify! I would harass Bradford, but he’s been doing a lot of “working” and I would feel bad about interrupting. Fortunately, Danny and I are equally useless and bored while the computer clicks through the photos one by one, so he can’t really avoid talking to me.

At any rate, tomorrow I’ll try taking a camera into the lab, and I can post some pictures of tablets and cameras and what summer in the ARC lab really looks like.

In the meantime… here is an inappropriate picture of my cat. Yes, he’s holding a whip with his hind foot. Because a real archaeologist doesn’t even need the normal appendages.

Fully literate, utterly intimidating

Thank heavens for this exciting post!

~Sarah H

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