Scientists Want to Read the Scrolls Carbonized by Vesuvius

Researchers from the University of Kentucky said that they were working to make a particular technique perfect – they want to digitally unravel some fragile ancient texts, which have not been read in about 2000 years.

  1. Brent Seales, the head of the University of Kentucky’s Digital Restoration Initiative, has talked about he and his research team, which just returned from a trip to England. There, they took some detailed images of the scrolls from the ancient Roman city of Herculaneum. In order to do that, they used something called synchrotron.

This device accelerates electrons to the speed of light, which means that they emit light that is 10 billion times brighter than the Sun. It makes energy be incredibly focused, like a laser, according to Seales. The waves go right through quickly.

They hope to read the scrolls soon

This technology is crucial for reading the scrolls preserved when Mount Vesuvius started to puke fire and ash on Pompeii, the Roman towns, and on Herculaneum back in AD 79. These scrolls remained buried in Herculaneum, in a villa, and they were thought to be associated with Julius Caesar’s family. Then, they got rediscovered back in 1752. After they were carbonized in the eruption, finding out what the scrolls have on them has been quite tricky and challenging. If they tried to unroll the scrolls, this might ruin them.

What the researchers from the University of Kentucky have to do is to use the imaging technique in order to see through the so-delicate layers of papyrus.

In England, they used the Diamond Light Source, but Seales’ team scanned four fragments made out of single pages and the closed-up scrolls. They want to use these single page fragments as a base, on which they would train a machine learning program to help in finding the differences between ink and papyrus.

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