We proudly present: first tests with infrared photography

Back in 2018, the conservator of the Austrian Archaeological Institute, Daniel Oberndorfer, made some tests with infrared photography with very good results. In the case of painted coffins with stains on the surface or simply darkened surfaces, the original decoration became visible again. Sometimes these stains are also caused by bitumen applied to the surface. And since the pouring of bitumen above the coffin and the mummy was very common in Ptolemaic times, this seemed like a suitable way to deal with our large set of material from TT 414.

For the 2021 season, I therefore purchased a second-hand Sony Cybershot DSC-F828 camera. First tests with a magnet and the use of an IR-filter were extremely successful. The camera kit is also useful for landscape photography, site views turn out really nice – here is just a shot towards the mountain from our place of work.

But most importantly, for the wooden coffins, the photos are like magic and make things visible again! The decoration and the texts of some darkened pieces are much clearer and nicely readable. But also what appears as a “black coffin” because of its current surface, becomes visible as a formerly colourful piece completely covered with resin. The original JPGs and RAWs can be further processed and will assist us to fully document the design of the coffins from the tomb of Ankh-Hor.

I am very grateful to Daniel for introducing this new documentation method back in 2018 and super happy that I invested in my own new camera kit – the results are simply stunning! Especially for large fragments with important pieces of texts (and figurative panels) this will allow a fresh reassessment of the coffins from TT 414 – stay tuned for more very soon!


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