New x-ray imaging technology assists with coin hoards

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August 16, 2012 – Large coin hoards generally pose the problem that analysing and dating is a long-lasting task. Thousands of coins must be carefully separated until one can determine how many and what kind of coins compose this treasure. The huge finding of Roman coins in Bath for example has been estimated as totalling some 30,000 coins, but more details are expected from a new technology.

Researchers from the University of Southampton are collaborating with the British Museum in order to use x-ray technology for analysing coin hoards of this kind, too. Besides the Bath hoard a cremation urn with coins from the third century CE, and a small pot with only few coins were chosen to be the first samples. Before working manually on the objects they are x-rayed and a computer assembles the innumerable 2D pictures rendering thus 3D images of all single coins. Currently this technology is still being developed and hence examined whether it is precise by breaking up the blocks later. However, the first results are very encouraging.

You can see it for yourself since the University of Southampton has put a clip online that demonstrates how this technology works. To watch the film, please click here.

You can find articles on this project here, here and here.

We reported on the Bath hoard here.

Maybe you want to visit the beautiful and inspiring website of the British Museum, too.