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CuneiformAnalyser is a graphic tool for the analysis of 3D scanned cuneiform tablets. It aims at supporting philological work on cuneiform texts, by allowing an unified and effective three-dimensional approach for the analysis and reconstruction of fragmented tablets. Its main focus are computer assisted collation, extraction of script features and tablet reconstruction. The software is developed in the frame of the joint project “3D-Joins und Schriftmetrologie” and is coded at the Technical University of Dortmund, Department of Computer Science VII.

The clips in the following sections are intended to illustrate in a simple and intuitive way some of the features of CuneiformAnalyser. The software is being continuously improved in the course of the research work, and the clips are in no way intended to illustrate a final version, only a work-in-progress release.


This Clip shows how a tablet fragment is loaded into the CuneiformAnalyser and intends to give a general idea of the non segmentation specific visualization capabilities of the Software. The CuneiformAnalyser is capable of displaying multiple high resolution meshes consisting of several tenth of millions of triangles while maintaining interactive frame rates. To offer optimal viewing experiences the CuneiformAnalyser integrates high quality visualization methods like lit sphere rendering and ambient occlusion visualization to mimic the appearance of real clay tablets with several types of clay. Although the real colors of the tablet surface may be displayed in viewport, the tablets are mostly visualized using a homogenous surface color, as the artificial surface color increases the readability of the script as compared to the often not-uniform coloring of the original manuscripts. Readability is further improved by using detail enhancing visualization methods like radiance scaling to emphasize subtle surface details. In Addition to that the CuneiformAnalyser provides several curvature based visualization modes like a sketch mode, that tries to mimic the appearance of manually drawn hand copies of a cuneiform tablet. Combined with an orthographic camera projection the software can output real world sized prints with a low amount of visible distortion.

Script Analysis

Regarding the analysis of cuneiform script CuneiformAnalyser provides several methods for conducting accurate measurements on the fragment surface like line or curve based distances and wedge impression depths. Using input from the flexible geometry selection tools, individual wedges can be selected manually to perform a model based wedge segmentation. Each selection, corresponding ideally to a distinct wedge, modeled as a tetrahedron, is decomposed into a set of inner and outer edges (go here for a terminological framework) and its geometrical properties are calculated -- edge length, angles between the edges, angle to tablet surface, aperture angle, depth and so on. Wedges can be further classified based on the line direction into vertical, horizontal and Winkelhaken type wedges and then extended with individual color properties and annotations to facilitate script analysis. The user can then single out, organize, export the desired selections. Further, it is possible to search for wedges based on parameters of similarity, and extract neighbouring wedges within a given radius using a local coordinate frame. In this way, samples of wedge constellations are automatically obtained, which can be subsequently stored, displayed and statistically evaluated.

Virtual Joins

This clip illustrates the possibility of bringing together (alleged) joins, thus creating a virtual reconstruction of an original tablet. This is particularly useful when joins are stored at different locations, as in this example: the acquamarine colored manuscript, representing an alleged indirect join of a version of the old Hittite ritual for the royal couple (CTH 416.B), is stored at the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara, whereas the yellow and reddish colored fragments behind it are stored at the Archaeological Museums of Istanbul. Dedicated tools allow a precise positioning of the various fragments as well as various display settings for their geometrical structure, either as smooth surface (shaded triangles), wireframe, or point cloud. This may be essential in order to verify the correctness of specific join proposals, an operation which otherwise would require accessing the original manuscripts and, if needed, take casts of them. It also turns out useful when the philologist tries to draw deductions about the length of text gaps or about the original position of a fragment within the tablet based on its layout and curvature.


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