The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) is a world leader in digitizing ancient manuscripts. Standing out from many other digitizing agencies, CSNTM concentrates specifically on Greek New Testament manuscripts. This narrow focus allows the team to concentrate on the best digital preservation and presentation for study. We use specialized equipment and an exacting image quality protocol to digitize the entire codex.
WHILE DIGITIZING, CSNTM HAS THREE PRIORITIES:
Photograph the entire page.
Maintain the condition of the codex.
Produce aesthetically-pleasing images.
Conventional, high-resolution digitization utilizes a single Phase One iXH, 150 MP, digital back camera mounted on a Digital Transitions DT Atom tabletop system. The Phase One 72mm Mk II lens exceeds FADGI and ISO digitization standards, allowing sharp, accurate, corner-to-corner capture for items 6” to 60” (15 cm to 152 cm) in size. Two diffused LED light sources provide preservation-grade, 5500 Kelvin illumination with UV filtration and Color Rendering Index (CRI) 98, while operating at a cool 33 degrees Celsius (92° F).
The DT V-Cradle is specifically designed to support delicate bound materials with minimal handling once set in place. The adjustable opening angle allows for digital capture without harming delicate codex spines, and the removable glass platen protects artifacts throughout the digitization process. The glass platen features a lift-assist for better ergonomics and enhanced protection for the artifacts. Precise adjustment allows for gentle, flattening pressure or zero-touch imaging. The glass can be removed entirely when necessary.
Multispectral Imaging utilizes the MegaVsion EV system, which captures high-resolution images across 12 or more spectral bands from the near ultra-violet to the near infra-red. These spectral bands are created using narrow-band LED illumination which subjects the manuscript to the specific light energy required to expose a highly sensitive, unfiltered monochrome sensor.
The Monochrome E7 50-megapixel digital back camera shutter and aperture are computer controlled. The hyperspectral lens is parfocal and responsive over the entire range of silicon sensitivity. The lighting system is fully integrated with the MegaVision software to control light emitting diodes (LEDs) to isolate the specific wavelengths desired.
Digitization—standard and MSI—involve a two-step process: manuscript examination and manuscript capture. Before photographing, the “vital statistics” of each manuscript are recorded. This information includes the manuscript’s shelf number, physical dimensions, material (papyrus, parchment, or paper), estimated date, and other significant data. Manuscript examination provides the digitization team with precise measurements to align their work to. Later these records serve as helpful information for researchers who examine the manuscript images.
The manuscript capture process is completed by two-person teams. One team member supports the manuscript and places it in the right position for proper support and digitization. The second person operates the computer and camera. The computer operator ensures that the images meet CSNTM’s image quality standards. The teams minimize the physical movement of the manuscript by digitizing the front of each leaf before turning the manuscript once to digitize the back of each leaf.
In the short history of CSNTM, our technique, protocols, and standards have evolved. Technology upgrades and increased experience in manuscript digitization have enhanced our ability to create higher-quality images than were originally possible. While on expedition team members carefully examine each individual image to ensure that each one meets or exceeds the parameters established by ISO 19264, Grade A.
A 3:2 top-to-bottom ratio is used to contrast the typical 2:3 ratio of the text to the page. This creates a consistent, balanced alignment for each image. Black (or in the case of papryi, both black and white backgrounds) are utilized.
All manuscripts are digitized completely including every page, spine, cover, additional matter, etc.—creating a full archival copy.