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Computers help scientists analyze papyrus from Herculaneum

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Computers help scientists analyze papyrus from Herculaneum
Computers help scientists analyze papyrus from Herculaneum

Scientists use artificial intelligence to scan a charred Roman papyrus, from which we can learn more about Alexander the Great and his generals.

Charred scrolls of papyrus have been preserved in the library in the so-called The Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum, a city that was one of the few Roman cities that were destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE.

According to the researchers, thanks to a self-learning computer and computed tomography, the papyrus was slowly scanned and searched for ink residue. The computer then processes the collected data into content and creates virtual images in 4K.

So far, the computer has read from the ancient text, among others: information about Alexander the Great and his successors. We can read, among others, that Alexander the Great is “a good king who ruled over a gigantic empire as in Homer’s Iliad”.

Little information has been obtained so far, including the names of Alexander’s chieftains: Seleucus, who ruled Babylon and founded the city of Seleucia, and Cassander, who took over after Alexander’s death in 323 BCE governments in Greece.

We do not know who could have been the author of the papyrus. Researchers speculate that it could be a copy of the forgotten diary of Eumenos, Alexander’s secretary.

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