Hyperspectral Imaging at JHI

We’ve just finished the first stage of works related to deciphering the unknown fragments of the Underground Archive of the Warsaw Ghetto.

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Recently the JHI has been visited by dr Tomasz Łojewski from the Faculty of Chemistry at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. With a group of co-workers, he conducted the first stage of works related to deciphering the unknown fragments of the Underground Archive of the Warsaw Ghetto (known as the Ringelblum Archive), since 1999 registered in UNESCO’s Memory of the World.

The commenced research works are en extremely important event to us in terms of the high value and uniqueness of the collection. Since 18th September, 1946, that is since the day when 10 metal boxes with priceless collection of documents were found among the ruins, despite many years of efforts of conservators and academics editing the Ringelblum Archive, many words, sentences and even entire pages remain unread. The main reason for that is the blurred ink or its complete disappearance due to dampness or microbiological attack, which this most precious testament to the Holocaust was affected by for 4 years when it was lying under ground in a box.

Recently, new ways to decipher blurred ink by employing the method of hyperspectral imaging have been developed. This technique, using radiation which causes fluorescence, allows to identify fragments of texts invisible to the naked eye, which can contribute to deciphering and understanding of the preserved documents. This technique is used in criminological analysis of documents, in making legible the content of old manuscripts; it is also a non-invasive tool in the analysis of works of art. Hyperspectral imaging became well-known after deciphering the famous Archimedes Palimpsest, which was written in the 10th century and after „the washing” of the parchment in the 12th century it was re-used to write a liturgical text. It functioned as a religious book till the 21st century. Thanks to the new technique, researchers were able to read lost treatises of famous mathematician Archimedes and two speeches of Athenian orator Hypereides.

Research into our greatest treasure is in progress and we are impatiently waiting for its results!

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