Reading A Scroll Burned To Charcoal

The effort to read the ancient text began when researchers at the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in Jerusalem took high resolution x-rays of the En-Gedi scroll.

(Computer scientists used a ground-breaking procedure called “virtual unwrapping”)

No more than a lump of disintegrating charcoal, the scroll is so fragile that it has barely been touched since it was discovered in 1970. It was found in the holy ark of a synagogue in En-Gedi, a town on the western shore of the Dead Sea that was destroyed by fire around AD600.

Seales ran the En-Gedi images through a four step procedure. The first creates a digital map of the crinkled contours of different regions of charred parchment. The second marks where ink was used, as revealed by bright spots in the x-ray images. The computer then flattens the regions out and merges them into one complete image. In the case of the En-Gedi scroll, writing showed up in the scans because the author used an ink that contained metal, probably iron or lead.

Using the system, the US team unwrapped five pages of the ancient scroll. Though Seales does not read Hebrew, it was clear that markings on the pages were written words. To find out what they said, he sent the images back to the team in Jerusalem. When Shor replied, she said they had not only read the text, but identified it as the book of Leviticus, the third book of the Hebrew bible. “At that point we were jubilant,” Seales said. “The En-Gedi scroll is proof positive we can potentially recover whole texts from damaged material, not just a few letters or a speculative word.”

Science fiction fans read about this idea forty years ago. In his wonderful first novel Inherit the Stars, James P. Hogan wrote about something he called a "Trimagniscope:"

The scope was adjusted to generate a view that followed the change in density along the boundary layer of the selected page, producing an image of the lower section of the book only; it was as if the upper part had been removed, like a cut deck of cards... (Read more about the Trimagniscope)

The Trimagniscope went one step further than the Seales team at the University of Kentucky, in that it used pattern recognition techniques to decipher the manuscript as well.

Via The Guardian.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/9/2016)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Engineering ")

Dune Fans! Power Your Devices With Sweaty Shirts
Yet another power source from humans.

Zero Mass 'Vaporators' Pull Drinking Water From The Air
Did you think of Star Wars?

Integrated Circuits Printed Right Onto Fabric!
'...a shirt that displayed email on its sleeve. - Margaret Atwood, 2003.

Drones Guided By The Mind Alone
'His treads left no tracks upon the floor...' - Clifford Simak, 1961.



Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.






Current News

Dune Fans! Metal-Organic Frameworks Make Science Fiction Real
'Dew collectors,' he muttered, enchanted by the simple beauty of such a scheme.

Manned Maneuvering Unit From 1984
'The glittering little rocket bolted to the black iron behind him.'

Astronaut Gets Younger In Space
'So what we're looking for now is not an antibiotic - an anti-life drug - but an anti-agathic, an anti-death drug...'

Blockchain Used To Verify Election Results
'Any adult could punch into the phone his or her code, followed by a yes or no.'

IJOP Integrated Joint Operations Platform China's Minority Report?
'All day long the idiots babbled, imprisoned in their special high-backed chairs...'

HushMe Bluetooth Device Reinvents The Hush-A-Phone
'Talking into a hush-a-phone which he had plugged into the telephone jack...'

Ultrathin Brain Needle Developed At MIT
Putting drugs into a selected cubic millimeter within the living brain.

Tesla Semi Truck Now At Work
Why wait? Tesla Semi now hard at work.

Illustris: The Next Generation Of Universe Simulation
'This digital device was ... A machine able literally to contain the Universe Itself...'

Scaly Yet Soft Robotic Snake
Love those robotic sneks.

Cool Tinsley Lunar Unicycle Update
Great update of a timeless classic.

NASA's 'Armstrong' Soft Wearable Upper Extremity Garment
'Exact same articulation as your shoulder joint, and it holds your muscles out of the way...'

Kuri Robot Roams Your Home, Taking Pictures
'Small devices with cameras and sound equipment which could move freely...'

Tiny Rubbery Robot To Take 'Fantastic Voyage'
I think that I will wait for other volunteers for this one.

Svalbard Seed Vault (aka Doomsday Vault) Gets Upgrades
'But they existed in the Life Bank, as did virtually every plant and animal that existed on Old Earth.'

Disney Vyloo Robots With Personality
'Let's build robots with Genuine People Personalities...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise | - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.