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Inscription Reconstruction

The Herodian Temple Mount reconstruction contains two very important inscriptions. The first is a Greek inscription prohibiting the entrance of non-Jews to the sanctified area beyond the stone fence (sorag) that surrounds the Temple. A copy of this inscription is on display in the Jerusalem City Museum of the Citadel. The second important inscription marks the place where the priests of the period were to stand and blow a trumpet to announce the beginning and end of the Sabbath. A replica of this 'Trumpeting Place' inscription is positioned on the Herodian Street near where it was found; the original is on display in the Israel Museum.

Re-creating these inscriptions for the real-time model was a challenge. Simply using digital photographs of the physical copies as texture maps was impossible because their lighting conditions and background stones were incompatible with that used in the computer reconstruction. Instead, it was decided to reconstruct the chiseled inscriptions letter-by-letter using the most legible characters from photographs of the physical copies. Digitized line drawings of the two inscriptions were used as guides to position the individual characters. The completed inscriptions were saved with a transparent background for use as texture maps.

One problem surfaced as a result of this approach. When the model is first launched, the computer creates multiple versions of the textures to display on the model's geometry depending on the user's distance from the object in the three dimensional space. These smaller versions of the inscription textures were primarily transparent and, as a result, the inscriptions were impossible to discern from any distance. To counter-act this effect, a second, coarser texture was specifically created and set on a level of detail control so that it would be be visible from mid-range distances. The high-resolution texture only switches into view when the user is within 10 meters of the inscription.

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