Thursday, September 03, 2015

A trove at Herculaneum

A tantalizing buried library at Herculaneum could hold some lost works of Sophocles, Aristotle and more. The painstaking methods - old and new - used by archaeologists to bring some of the charred ancient scrolls to a point of legibility are remarkable:
Letters began to jump out of the ancient papyrus. Instead of black ink on black paper, it was now possible to see black lines on a pale grey background. 
Scholars' ability to reassemble the texts improved massively. "Most of our previous readings were wrong," says Obbink. "We could not believe our eyes. We were 'blinded' by the real readings. The text wasn't what we thought it was and now it made sense."