New tech could reveal secrets in 2,000-year-old scrolls - via CBS News and Live Science
New tech could reveal secrets in 2,000-year-old scrolls
Hundreds of ancient papyrus scrolls that were buried nearly 2,000 years ago after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius could finally be read, thanks to a new technique. The X-ray-based method can be used to decipher the charred, damaged texts that were found in the ancient town of Herculaneum without having to unroll them, which could damage them beyond repair, scientists say. Historians have tried many ingenious (and some not-so-ingenious) methods for reading the damaged scrolls. "They poured mercury on them, they soaked them in rosewater all kinds of crazy stuff," said Jennifer Sheridan Moss, a papyrologist at Wayne State University and the president of the American Society of Papyrologists. The texts on the scrolls are unlikely to yield earth-shattering insights, given how many of the other scrolls have been deciphered, Moss said. But the new technique holds promise for other burnt papyri as well, Moss said.