WSRP was started in the early 1980s by Bruce Zuckerman and his brother Kenneth. Bruce, a scholar and teacher of the Bible and ancient Semitic languages, was frustrated by the lack of good photographs of important ancient inscriptions. With the help of his brother, Ken, he set out to remedy the situation.
The study of ancient writing is called epigraphy. In this field it has been typical of scholars who read ancient texts to do their own reading, produce a drawing of the text and publish the drawing, translation and transcription as the main tool for study. Photographs, if provided, can rarely be used for study. The reason is that the photographs are either taken by scholars who know little about photography, or by photographers who cannot read what they are looking at and so may miss important data.
The most important principle that governs the work of the WSRP is the combining of good photography with knowledge of the scripts and languages. We believe in training scholars to be good photographers, or at least encouraging them to work closely with photographers to get the best possible results.
In order to carry out our goals, we have conducted many imaging projects in the United States and overseas. Our projects have taken place in the British Museum, the Louvre, several museums in Berlin, museums in Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Cyprus, and Turkey, among others. The work we do sometimes takes us into the field. For example, in 1999 we photographed the oldest alphabetic inscriptions in the Wadi el-Hol, in Egypt. Scholars of ancient texts often accompany us, working closely with us to get the best images possible.
We have also trained a number of people to do the imaging themselves, particularly using Polynomial Texture Mapping technology. For several years we ran a project sponsored by the IMLS (Institute for Museum and Library Services), in which we trained scholars and sent them out with photographic kits to do their own projects.