Friday, April 01, 2016

Ancient scrolls give up their secrets

Ancient scrolls give up their secrets. Helen Briggs. BBC News. 22 March 2016.
     The Herculaneum scrolls were buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD79 and are charred and fragile. A library of about 2,000 scrolls was excavated from one of its villas in the 18th century, of which about 600 remain unopened. Efforts over many centuries to unroll and read them has damaged or destroyed some of the scrolls. Scientists using technology such as the European synchrotron, which produces X-rays 100 billion times brighter than hospitals X-rays, are being use to read the surviving unopened scrolls. Now they have found that the ink contains high levels of lead they are able to read the scrolls from the inside, without damaging them. A technique called scanning X-ray fluorescence (XRF) is used "to see wisps of lead in the outlines of letters".

[Brigham Young University used multispectral imaging in 1999 to image the unrolled scrolls and produce readable texts from papyri that were so black the writing was not visible. This was the first complete collection archived on M-Discs. - Chris]

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