3D-Scans of medieval inscriptions on the Jewish Cemetery “Heiliger Sand”

A 3D close range scanner is used for the digitization of inscriptions of medieval gravestones on the Jewish Cemetery “Heiliger Sand” in Worms. The question is the acquisition of the today’s status in an ongoing weathering of the sandstone surface. Subsequently the digitized surfaces are analysed according to additional characters to be deciphered, which have not already been decoded with sided light photography. This analysis is based on the so-called Multiscale Integral Invariants – MSII – a 3D filter method to measure the curvature of a 2D manifold on specific scales. Any noise due to the measuring device or the defects on the sandstone surface can be neglected by defining the size of the features we are looking for. These kinds of filters are implemented in the software framework GigaMesh (author: Hubert Mara, IWR). The false color coding allows for emphasizing man made script over noisy areas but also helps to automatically mark areas of random noise. In contrast to photographies no shadowing occurs and no texture color of the stone is misleading the interpretation. In close collaboration with Judaists the script of the epitaphs can be more and more deciphered, since often citations from the Thora are combined with the dates also written with Hebrew letters in form of riddles or double meanings. Sadly enough, some of the stones also have to be sorted out as the texts are lost forever.

Name and contact of project responsible(s):

Dr. S. Krömker (Interdisciplinary Center for Scientific Computing, Heidelberg University)
Dr. H. Mara (Interdisciplinary Center for Scientific Computing, Heidelberg University)

Involved scientists and partners

Prof. Dr. A. Frank (Department of Computational Linguistics, Heidelberg University)
Prof. Dr. S. Riezler (Department of Computational Linguistics, Heidelberg University)

Prof. Dr. M. Brocke, T. Kollatz, U. Reuter, A. Sommer (Salomon Ludwig Steinheim Institute, University Duisburg-Essen)

Generaldirektion Kulturelles Erbe –  GDKE Rheinland-Pfalz


S. Krömker: Neue Methoden zur besseren Lesbarkeit mittelalterlicher Grabsteine am Beispiel des Heiligen Sands in Worms, in: Die SchUM-Gemeinden Speyer – Worms – Mainz. Auf dem Weg zum Welterbe. Schnell & Steiner, pp. 167 – 188, 2013.

Jerusalem am Rhein, ZDF Dokumentation, ein Film von Dietmar Schulz, 2010.

Artikel in Spiegel-online von Kurt F. de Swaaf (2010): http://www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/technik/gemeisselte-geheimnisse-forscher-entziffern-juedische-grabinschriften-a-703508.html