Ancient Papyrus Scroll Survived a Volcano; Now We Can Read It

We find it hard to imagine that a thin papyrus roll can get through a volcanic eruption and still be “alive.” It’s very hard for us to believe that this kind of artifact can be read 2000 years later without actually unrolling it.

A team of scientists claimed that we are so close to virtually uncover and read the only library that dates back from the classical world, and that’s also intact.

There are more than 1800 texts – the Herculaneum scrolls are the most famous human artifacts that were ever discovered. But it’s quite challenging to read their content.

Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, and this library was carbonized almost instantly, from an avalanche of hot gas and ash, which turned the scrolls into lumps of coal.

For more than 200 years, people have wanted to read it, but without any luck. This carbonized papyrus is so fragile as if it were a butterfly’s wing – the smallest action can cause a lot of damage, and it can destroy the paper, or the ink can get erased, and then there would be nothing to do with it.

After some several failed attempts to unroll it, but there’s a new technique out there that might allow us to read the texts without actually damaging them. we are talking about a high-resolution scanner and a machine that’s using algorithms in order to make the ink visible on the carbonized paper. X-rays can not even do this.

After decades and decades of attempts, Bren Seales, an artifacts decoder, thinks that this is the best chance they got so far. This is a long-time goal for Seales, and he wants to scan two intact scrolls, and small fragments, by also using a particle accelerator in the UK.

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