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Content of papyri from Herculaneum at last legible

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Charred papyrus from Herculaneum
Charred papyrus from Herculaneum

X-rays allowed scientists to extract individual letters from damaged documents from the library in Herculaneum. The culprit was the volcano Vesuvius, which in 79 CE unexpectedly erupted and destroyed Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabiae. The cataclysm did not spare the library with valuable works of the great thinkers of that time. The library was especially full of works by Philodemus of Gadara (c. 110 – c. 39 BCE), a Greek poet and philosopher from the Epicurean school who taught the poet Virgil.

Scientists have so far found around 1,800 charred and blackened paper rolls from which they tried to read any words. Some of the scrolls could be rolled out, but many are in such bad condition that no mechanical action can be afforded. Ultimately, scientists managed to get some of the notes from the two scrolls using modified X-rays.


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