SIANE: Seals and their impressions in the ancient Near East

This project, with the University of Oxford, aims to capture cylinder seals and carry out an imaging campaign to create a large data set. We designed and built a special system to capture the seals, which are rotated on a small computer-controlled turntable:

We are currently investigating the use of a structured light technique to image the seals and produce “roll-outs”. Click here for more images.

Early scan of a replica seal to test resolution and quality

Our initial system uses structured light and a fast usb3 camera to obtain strips of image which can be used to generate a 3D surface. Future work is searching for features, a web viewer and speed improvements so the team can capture hundreds of seals..

early tests of a new system to image seals – David with Jacob Dahl in the Ashmolean Museum

virtual roll out of a cylinder seal

Photo of an actual physical “rolled-out” cylinder seal (Seyrig161 from the BnF)

Virtual roll-out generated from the captured images

Links to related articles:

Visit to Yale

In march 2021 the Siane scanner went on a trip to Yale:


The second system

This one was completed and installed in Oxford:

version 2 before its base-plate was painted black


Funded by the Fell Fund, in collaboration with Jacob Dahl of the University of Oxford. Oxford team includes Kathryn Kelly, Southampton’s includes Kirk Martinez and David Young.

Here is David’s video showing how to use the scanner: