The Digital Restoration Initiative From the inner wraps of charred and carbonized scrolls, to the fused and buckled pages of disintegrating books, the world’s vast invisible library can finally be made visible in a completely non-invasive, damage-free way. Reading the Invisible Library Badly damaged manuscripts sit on shelves throughout the world, collecting dust while their potentially valuable contents remain locked away by their wrecked conditions. Using our “virtual unwrapping” software, we can reveal the text hidden in these ancient treasures. Virtual Unwrapping Our breakthrough technology takes a digital image of an unreadable manuscript and pushes it through a computerized process that models the shape of the document, detects and overlays the writing on the document, and finally flattens the digitally recreated page so it can be read. WATCH VIDEO From Damage to Discovery Combining our in-house software with the latest advances in digital imaging, Professor Brent Seales and his team of students are poised to make even greater discoveries, including reading the elusive Herculaneum papyri. In partnering with us, you help restore some of humanity’s greatest written artifacts, releasing knowledge and understanding that has been hidden for centuries.

The written word has been used throughout history to chronicle and contemplate the human experience, but many valuable texts are “lost” to us due to damage. The words of these documents and the knowledge they seek to impart are locked behind the destruction and decay wrought by time and injury, while the physical manuscripts themselves form an “invisible library” of sorts — closeted away on dark shelves, well-protected but prevented from proffering knowledge and encouraging inquiry. For more than 20 years, Dr. Seales has been working to create and use hi-tech, non-invasive tools to rescue these lost texts from the blink of oblivion and restore them to humanity. We call this innovative process “virtual unwrapping.”

If you are interested in a research assistantship, please inquire about our open positions.

From Damage to Discovery – A Timeline of Innovation

2019

Machine Learning Reveals Carbon Ink

Machine LearningFrom Invisibility to Readability: Recovering the Ink of Herculaneum
View Project

2018

3D Registration to 2D Images

Herculaneum Papyrus Scrolls – PHerc. 118
View Project

2015

Complete Virtual Unwrapping and Reading

En Gedi Scroll Unwrapped to Scale

The Scroll from En-Gedi, The Israel Antiquities Authority
View Project

2013

Restoration Using Layers

Chinese Dynastic Texts,  National Palace Museum (Taiwan)
View Video

2011

Multi-spectral Images Across Time

St. Chad Gospels Dataset

The St. Chad Gospels: Diachronic Manuscript Registration and Visualization
View Paper

2009

Digital Rendering of Internal Structures

Carbonized Herculaneum Scroll

Herculaneum Scroll, Institut de France
View Video

2008

Alignment of Page Versions

The Iliad, Marciana Library
View Video

2006

Non-invasive Reading

Ecclesiastes Book Binding, The University of Michigan
View Video

2003

Virtual Unwrapping

Egyptian Scroll Prototype, The University of Kentucky

2000

Digital Flattening of Warped Pages

The Cotton Collection, The British Library

1999

2D Digitization of Burned Pages

Beowulf, The British Library

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Come Be a Part of This Exciting Research

The Digital Restoration Initiative at the University of Kentucky is made possible through donors like you. Funding for projects is highly competitive, and gaps in funding delay progress and limit student opportunities. Your partnership will allow this cutting-edge research to continue at the University of Kentucky with UK students at the helm.
1

$10,000

One undergraduate stipend for one year of research work.

2

$36,000

One year of graduate student research.

3

$50,000

One staff member’s time and travel for one project.

4

$100,000

Total cost for one project, including staff, students, travel, and equipment rental.

5

$250,000

A year’s worth of research work, including staff, two graduate students, limited equipment, and travel.

6

$500,000

Development of an on-site experimental lab, including equipment acquisition.

7

$500,000/year for five years

A fully equipped and fully staffed Digital Restoration Initiative research lab and program.

“We are on the verge of exciting breakthroughs. It’s a great time to get involved. Your partnership allows this cutting-edge research to continue at the University of Kentucky with UK students at the helm.”

– Professor Brent Seales
National Endowment for the Humanities
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Diamond Light Source
Micro Photonics Inc.
UK Chellgreen Center
University of Kentucky Office of Philanthropy
UK Women and Philanthropy
National Science Foundation (NSF)