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

May 2023

Quick Segment

Development of the Quick Segmentation tool to aid in the virtual unwrapping of the Herculaneum Scrolls

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April 2023

Recovery of Text from Herculaneum Papyri

EduceLab-Scrolls: Verifiable Recovery of Text from Herculaneum Papyri using X-ray CT

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March 2023

Vesuvius Challenge

Global Competition to Read the Herculaneum Papyri Launched
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June 2022

Morgan Library M.910

The X-Ray Micro-CT of a Full Parchment Codex to Recover Hidden Text: Morgan Library M.910, an Early Coptic Acts of the Apostles Manuscript

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April 2022

Quality Assurance of New Oak Barrels using Computer Vision

Investigating the use of computer vision to perform automated analysis of barrels to identify faulty ones prior to filling. 
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Machine Learning Reveals Carbon Ink

Machine LearningFrom Invisibility to Readability: Recovering the Ink of Herculaneum
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3D Registration to 2D Images

Herculaneum Papyrus Scrolls – PHerc. 118
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Complete Virtual Unwrapping and Reading

En Gedi Scroll Unwrapped to Scale

The Scroll from En-Gedi, The Israel Antiquities Authority
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Restoration Using Layers

Chinese Dynastic Texts,  National Palace Museum (Taiwan)
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Multi-spectral Images Across Time

St. Chad Gospels Dataset

The St. Chad Gospels: Diachronic Manuscript Registration and Visualization
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Digital Rendering of Internal Structures

Carbonized Herculaneum Scroll

Herculaneum Scroll, Institut de France
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Alignment of Page Versions

The Iliad, Marciana Library
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Non-invasive Reading

Ecclesiastes Book Binding, The University of Michigan
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Virtual Unwrapping

Egyptian Scroll Prototype, The University of Kentucky


Digital Flattening of Warped Pages

The Cotton Collection, The British Library


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.


One undergraduate stipend for one year of research work.



One year of graduate student research.



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



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



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



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


$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
Diamond Light Source
Micro Photonics Inc.
UK Chellgreen Center
University of Kentucky Office of Philanthropy
UK Women and Philanthropy
National Science Foundation (NSF)