Reassembling the Thera Frescoes:

Automated Digitization and Matching of Fragments


The archaeological site of Akrotiri on the island of Thera (modern-day Santorini) has proven a treasure trove of information about Aegean civilization and culture. Among its most valued artifacts are wall paintings (frescoes), which have been preserved in the volcanic ash since the seventeenth century BC. The frescoes, however, are typically recovered in fragments of a few centimeters to a few tens of centimeters in length, and reconstructing complete wall sections occupies a major portion of the effort at Akrotiri.

We are engaged in a project to assist archaeologists and conservators by digitizing excavated fragments and using computer algorithms to automatically propose matches on the basis of 3D edge profile, color, and other cues. An intuitive user interface will allow conservators to see and evaluate matches on the basis of any or all of the above criteria. We hope to greatly reduce the time that is currently spent manually testing large numbers of fragments against each other in the search for matches.

Our project has three major components:


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