Papyrology – Virtually unrolling the Herculaneum scrolls

3708017802_ae898dfcccExciting news in papyrology! Scientists have acquired a preliminary CT-scan of a complete unopened papyrus scroll from Herculaneum, and are poised to begin acquiring scans at the best resolution and with the best possible contrast, revealing the internal layers and giving hope to the goal of eventually “virtually unrolling” the layers to read the text (!). Next week the team hopes to show a high-resolution slice of the internal structure of a complete Herculaneum scroll. The charred Herculaneum scrolls and the Oxyrhynchus trash are the world’s two largest known repositories of previously unread ancient manuscripts — a collection of staggering potential. To give you an idea what one might find in these scrolls: we have seven plays by Sophocles, and there are about 90 missing. Euripides wrote 100 plays and Menander about 70.

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