Researchers might have finally unlocked a key that could make reading ancient scrolls from Greek and Roman authors possible by using an X-ray procedure, researchers say.
Burned Vesuvius scrolls which have previously been seen as unreadable, might be amongst the things that are rediscovered in 2015. The discovery could come at the hands of a very powerful X-ray procedure, according to Italian researchers who have been working on reading scrolls that were scorched by 750-degree temperatures – without unrolling them at all. This would allow those researchers to read the contents without unraveling the two carbonized papyri that hold much of the information and were likely a major player in the Roman city of Herculaneum. The eruption that caused this information to be lost happened around 79 A.D., and it’s likely that this will be the first time anyone has ever read anything of this magnitude, since the discovery of writings from the Renaissance.
Vito Mocella, of the National Research Council’s Institute for Microelectronics and Microsystems, said “It’s the first time a technology achieves such a result. Until now, imaging techniques have been unable to view the carbon-based ink of these papyri, even when they could penetrate the different layers of their spiral structure.” However, these scrolls have been around for a very long time. In fact, they were originally discovered 260 years ago on seafront property owned by Julius Ceasar’s father-in-law.
Had those documents and remains been left where they were originally, it was found that the sea air would have destroyed the remains. That is why they were moved to Naples, where they rest today, and where they are being studied so furiously, as they could unlock some of the major mysteries around two of the most-fascinating civilizations in human history. Back in 1999 researchers were able to read and translate some of the information that was on the scrolls, but at the end of the day – the information was simply too difficult to read for the most part.
Now though, it would appear as though a major breakthrough is coming now that researchers have developed the right technique that provides enough power to read the scrolls, and understand what is on them. At that point, perhaps now, some of the biggest mysteries that remain for the period can finally be answered.