As for scanning these objects – rest assured that we are working towards such a goal, which is not an easy task. FYI, The Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative “scans” tablets in low tech style – on a portable flatbed scanner. Digital Hammurabi does not yet have a scanner in production. The scanner we will be using in Chicago is the Konica-Minolta Vivid 9i (http://www.minolta3d.com/products/main-en.asp) which we selected along with our colleagues at the Xiangtangshan Caves Project (http://xts.uchicago.edu/)
Quite so, Chuck, and I appreciate your comments. Of course, that’s why I had posted the SunTimes and NYTimes links within the body of my post — so that readers interested in the whole story could follow them up without my having to engage the legal/political dispute. Nor was I implying that appropriate digitization technology already exists — the potential difficulties of handling different angles and light sources alone are overwhelming! I was simply using the story as a launching point for a what-if scenario about artifacts, information, and digitization.
There is a typographical error in my comment above. Where it reads
“the University of Chicago and the Oriental Institute do do dispute that these excavated objects are the property of the Iranian Museums and Antiquities services”
it should read
“The University of Chicago and the Oriental Institute do not dispute that these excavated objects are the property of the Iranian Museums and Antiquities services”