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Title: Digital restoration of damaged historical parchment
Author: Pal, A. K.
ISNI:       0000 0004 8502 4975
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
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In this thesis we describe the development of a pipeline for digitally restoring damaged historical parchment. The work was carried out in collaboration with London Metropolitan Archives (LMA), who are in possession of an extremely valuable 17th century document called The Great Parchment Book. This book served as the focus of our project and throughout this thesis we demonstrate our methods on its folios. Our aim was to expose the content of the book in a legible form so that it can be properly catalogued and studied. Our approach begins by acquiring an accurate digitisation of the pages. We have developed our own 3D reconstruction pipeline detailed in Chapter 5 in which each parchment is imaged using a hand-held digital-SLR camera, and the resulting image set is used to generate a high-resolution textured 3D reconstruction of each parchment. Investigation into methods for flatting the parchments demonstrated an analogy with surface parametrization. Flattening the entire parchment globally with various existing parametrization algorithms is problematic, as discussed in Chapters 4, 6, and 7, since this approach is blind to the distortion undergone by the parchment. We propose two complementary approaches to deal with this issue. Firstly, exploiting the fact that a reader will only ever inspect a small area of the folio at a given time, we proposed a method for performing local undistortion of the parchments inside an interactive viewer application. The application, described in Chapter 6, allows a user to browse a parchment folio as the application un-distorts in real-time the area of the parchment currently under inspection. It also allows the user to refer back to the original image set of the parchment to help with resolving ambiguities in the reconstruction and to deal with issues of provenance. Secondly, we proposed a method for estimating the actual deformation undergone by each parchment when it was damaged by using cues in the text. Since the text was originally written in straight lines and in a roughly uniform script size, we can detect the the variation in text orientation and size and use this information to estimate the deformation. in Chapter 7 we then show how this deformation can be inverted by posing the problem as a Poisson mesh deformation, and solving it in a way that guarantees local injectivity, to generate a globally flattened and undistorted image of each folio. We also show how these images can optionally be colour corrected to remove the shading cues baked into the reconstruction texture, and the discolourations in the parchment itself, to further improve legibility and give a more complete impression that the parchment has been restored. The methods we have developed have been very well received by London Metropolitan Archives, as well the the larger archival community. We have used the methods to digitise the entire Great Parchment Book, and have demonstrated our global flattening method on eight folios. As of the time of writing of this thesis, our methods are being used to virtually restore all of the remaining folios of the Great Parchment Book. Staff at LMA are also investigating potential future directions by experimenting with other interesting documents in their collections, and are exploring the possibility of setting up a service which would give access to our methods to other archival institutions with similarly damaged documents.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available