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 | del.icio.us | 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 ")

Tiny LEDs Developed For Dust-Sized Computers
'They use sparkles to talk to each other...' - Neal Stephenson, 1995.

Seabreacher, H.G. Winter's 1939 Torpoon
'Ken lay full-length in the padded body compartment, his feet resting on the controlling bars of the directional planes, hands on the torpoon's engine levers.' - HG Winters, 1939.

Project Soli Radar Gesture Chip Now FCC Approved
'He waved his hand and the circuit switched abruptly.' - Philip K. Dick, 1955.

Implosion Fabrication Shrinks 3D Objects To Nanoscale
'Carter had watched miniaturization a hundred times...' - Isaac Asimov, 1965.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

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

Michelin Self-Sealing Tires On Ford's Explorer
'...a seal of compressed plastifoam to save the air.'

Mushroom Eats Plastic, Saves Planet
Fungus Amongus, SaveUs!

Juggalo Face Paint Disrupts Facial Recognition
'... designed to foil facial recognition systems.'

Mojipic Smart Voice Vehicle Emojis
KITT, what's your response?

Unusual Twist On Woman Dates Robot
'My hearing, vision and awareness went along with that excellent imitation of a young Adonis...'

BrainNet Triple Telepathic Gaming Threat
'In the gloomy half-darkness the three idiots sat babbling.'

AVAS Noisemakers Required For EVs By EU
'...a sound tape to supply the noise of a soi-disant "[internal combustion]" engine...'

Pun Generation Via Neural Nets
'You said you wanted him to be able to distinguish between laugh-power in different gags...'

Blood Battery Robotic Fish
'With one fluid motion, it surged forward, plunged, and was gone.'

Lightyear One Solar-Powered Electric Car (Design By Heinlein)
'It drew its power from six square yards of sunpower screens on its low curved roof.'

'Agression Detectors' Don't Work When Spying On Students
'The professional agitators had also learned how to modulate their voices below the danger level...'

Mining Of Golden Asteroid Foretold In 1898 Science Fiction
'This must be a golden planet—this little asteroid.'

Miners! NASA Wants To License RASSOR Excavator
'The borers had been dismantled and packed away.'

Bee+ Robobee Now With Four Wings
'It was a tiny thing, scarcely more than an inch and a half in length...'

CNSILK Robotic Spider Builder
'We could certainly spin a web right through the Solar System, if we can think of a good use for one.'

Starshade Will Help Space Telescope To Search For Exoplanets
'When it found planetary systems in its field, automatically shifted upon them a higher powered telespectroscope ...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

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

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.