Today we have had a demonstration of a Faro laser scanning/metrology arm. As its name suggests this is a device which can both laser scan the surface of the hoard to build up a 3D virtual model but can also measure the position of any point in the hoard to within fractions of a millimeter. We hope to purchase a unit like this to use as we deconstruct the hoard, logging the original position of every object that comes out of it. As far as we've been able to find out, no hoard of anything like this size has ever been fully recorded as it's taken apart coin by coin. If we do this we will be able to know exactly where every coin or piece of jewellery fits in relation to all the others, even once they are all in seperate bags or boxes. This will allow us to investigate the hoard after its dissasembly so that we can look up positions or groupings of coins by type, weight, condition etc. This way we should be able to tell how the hoard was deposited. Whether for example it came in twenty bags or fifty. Whether they all came from the same tribe or several and if so, which tribes left the jewellery etc. The Faro unit is a fantastic tool and will allow this research to be done in a way that would have taken far too long by any other technique. As a bit of a gadget fan I must admit it was also a great toy and I kept finding myself looking around the lab to find things to scan.
It's hard to know just how long the project will take but we are extrapolating out from the British Museum's experience with their roman hoard and think there might be six to eight years or work for one person. We will try to get the work done by a team therefore in order to complete the hoard in a more manageable time. If all goes well we will employ two new staff members next year who will work with me on the hoard's disassembly for perhaps three years. The work will be split between the chemical/physical work of cleaning the coins and the recording work of scanning, position logging, photography etc