Specially-adapted and standard Remote Visual Inspection (RVI) equipment from the Inspection Technologies business of GE Measurement & Control has been used to carry out an internal inspection of a newly discovered burial tomb, dating from the first century, in Jerusalem. The equipment has provided high definition video images of ossuaries within the tomb to enable archaeological experts to read the ossuary inscriptions and gain some insight into their provenance. The extent of the discoveries will be revealed in a new documentary film and an accompanying book that will be launched on February 28 at the Discovery Museum in New York.
The burial tomb was revealed during building work in the town of East Talpiot, just outside the old city of Jerusalem. Licensed exploration was granted to principal investigators Prof. James D. Tabor of the University of North Carolina (UNC) and Prof. Rami Arav of the University of Nebraska, under the academic supervision of UNC. Religious groups and the Israel Antiquities board stipulated that nobody should enter the tomb, nor should anything be disturbed or retrieved from the tomb as part of the licensed exploration. Fortunately, it was recalled that GE remote visual inspection equipment had been used during a similar tomb exploration in 2005 and consequently contact was re-established.
Bill Tarant, GE’s Ontario sales manager, who carried out the exploration in 2005 and took part in the latest project, explains the problems faced. “In 2005, we gained entry to the tomb through a soul pipe. With the current project, we had to drill three eight-inch holes through two meters of rock into the tomb. The tomb was one meter in height but any inspection equipment needed to be able to extend over three meters to obtain the required coverage. We solved the problem by using a mechanical/pneumatic arm, designed by Walter Klassen, who is a well-known prop maker for feature films. This was fitted to a GE CA-Zoom PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) camera, which was used to obtain the images inside the tomb. A second CA-Zoom PTZ was inserted in one of the other holes to monitor the movement of the first camera.”
Although the first images received were very good, the investigators asked if the definition could be improved to broadcast quality, so that the inscriptions on the ossuaries could be read, not only on site but also by viewers of the film that was being made. This required major development work by GE’s engineers, resulting in a customized High Definition camera. To support the CA-Zoom cameras, GE also introduced its XLG3 video probe to provide images of extremely difficult access areas within the tomb. With its very high light output and its unique 360° All-Way® articulation, combined with advanced digital signal processing, the XLG3 can be remotely manipulated into the most difficult of locations to provide sharp, high quality images.
As Tarant concludes,” I believe that this is the first time that an archaeological project such as this has been carried out remotely. Its success is due in no small part to the expertise and commitment of our custom engineering team, as well as to the functional capabilities of our range of remote visual inspection equipment, which conventionally is used for remote visual inspection in the aerospace, oil and gas, automotive and power generation sectors.”
Measurement & Control (ge-mcs.com) is a leading innovator in advanced, sensor-based measurement, non-destructive testing and inspection and condition monitoring. Providing healthcare for customers’ most critical assets, the business delivers accuracy, productivity and safety to a wide range of industries, including oil & gas, power generation, aerospace, metals and transportation. Measurement & Control has over 40 facilities in 25 countries and is part of GE Oil & Gas.
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