How Advanced Technology Reveals Hidden Histories

Jul 15, 2020 | Science


Welcome to The Not Old Better Show, I’m your host, Paul Vogelzang, and this is episode #464.

As part of our Smithsonian Associates Inside Science Series, our guest, Michael B. Toth, ‎president of R. B. Toth Associates will be discussing his pioneering work over the past two decades to reveal new historic information. Mike Toth offers examples of writings and drawings revealed with the latest advanced imaging systems by the international teams of researchers he leads.

For centuries, historic information on paper was erased or damaged by fire and flood, parchment was scrubbed clean and reused, and papyrus torn and repurposed for mummy masks. Artwork was covered by paint and canvas, and names scrawled on walls obscured by wallpaper. Now thanks to modern imaging technology, historic and religious information that was damaged or removed is visible again.
Digital imaging and processing of historic artifacts has taken place around the globe in locations as diverse as Venice, Scandinavia, the Vatican, the Sinai Desert, and America. The technology allows investigators to make significant discoveries from newly visible early drawings found on artwork and information hidden in mummy masks, maps, bibles, manuscripts, palimpsests, journals, and even old walls—as well as make the findings accessible for online research.

Mike Toth tells us how he and his team have adapted and developed some of these technologies from their initial applications in satellites, X-ray physics, and medicine into imaging tools now used for cultural heritage studies. He also discusses how some projects that made use of these technologies became detective hunts into aspects of lost history.

Please join me in welcoming to The Not Old Better Show via internet phone, Michael Toth.

My thanks to Mike Toth for joining us today to talk about New Discoveries using Imaging, and my thanks to the Smithsonian team for all they do to support the show.

And my thanks always to you, my wonderful Not Old Better Show audience. Remember, stay safe everyone, practice smart social distancing, and Talk About Better. The Not Old Better Show. Thanks, everybody.