Standard Radiography

Standard radiography is approached initially as if there were only human remains to image. From the initial radiograph, the presence of artifacts, if any, should be apparent, particularly if they are metallic, ceramic, animal bony structures, or anything with enough density to absorb the x-ray. If conventional film is the recording media, the use of intensifying screens should be avoided. The nonscreen approach will produce an image with less contrast, revealing lower-density structures or objects, such as feathers, which might otherwise not be detected. In addition, the kVp value should not exceed 55 unless the object is known to be metallic.

Although conventional film can produce excellent images, filmless systems may be superior. A nonfilm approach has several advantages. Computed radiography (CR) intended for industrial applications permits the selection of algorithms for specific materials, such as brass or ceramic. In addition, the ability to apply postprocessing manipulation to CR images is certainly an advantage. Factors, such as contrast and brightness, can be manipulated without having to collect additional images, possibly revealing what was not visible on the original image. CR units are becoming smaller, more transportable and reliable, and less expensive, making them a possible contributor in field applications.

Locating the artifact within the internal context using field paleoimaging requires ingenuity. Images obtained using conventional radiography are two dimensional. Precise spatial location of the artifact within the mummy, its wrappings, or coffin can be accomplished by using either the "spinal needle" or "grid locator" methods described in detail in Chapter 2 of this book.

Employing endoscopy to complement the two-dimensional radiographs may allow researchers to determine the color, contour, shape, and size of the artifact under investigation. Additionally, construction features and materials can be determined from the endoscopic images. Endoscopy too may be used in artifact retrieval procedures from the internal context following the radiographic locating procedures. Endoscopic procedures supporting the radiographic data will be discussed later in this chapter.

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