Interpretation of Ancient Runic Inscriptions by Laser Scanning

Jan O. H. Swantesson and Helmer Gustavson

in Images and Artefacts of the Ancient World

Published by British Academy

Published in print May 2005 | ISBN: 9780197262962
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734533 | DOI:

Series: British Academy Occasional Papers

Interpretation of Ancient Runic Inscriptions by Laser Scanning

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  • Archaeological Methodology and Techniques


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Traditionally, investigations of runic inscriptions have been conducted in the field by eye, and by feeling the outlines of the runes with fingers. Although photographs have been used to describe runes, they are typically of complementary use. This chapter looks at the interpretation of runic inscriptions through laser scanning. Laser scanning, compared to the old methods of determining runic inscriptions, is more accurate and more efficient. It is specifically important when the interpretation is unclear. This method records the height of surfaces in shades of grey only, hence eliminating disturbances caused by the different colours of the rock. The chapter also discusses how data derived from the measurements of laser scanning can be treated. It provides an account of the application of laser scanning in runic inscriptions in Scandinavia as well as methods that can be used when interpreting runic transcriptions with new techniques.

Keywords: runic inscriptions; runes; laser scanning; techniques; height of surfaces; application of laser scanning; Scandinavia

Chapter.  6680 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Archaeological Methodology and Techniques

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