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 ")

Blaux Your Personal Commuter Cooling Unit
A cooling unit had to be strapped to every commuter's back, by law.

SunnyFive 'Window' Has Full Spectrum Angled Natural Light
'On the ceilings are screens.' - Stanislaw Lem, 1961.

Liftware Level, Google's Smart Spoon
'The result was indeed marvelous... I did not stagger and I did not reel.' - Ellis Parker Butler, 1926.

Prufrock The Newest Boring Machine
'It sounds to me as though you had invented a kind of metal earthworm...'

 

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

TytoCare Offers Futuristic Home Care
'Immediately an enormous apparatus fell on to her out of the ceiling...'

Powdered Regolith Propulsion
'... filling their great tanks with the finely divided dust which the ionic rockets would spit out in electrified jets.'

Ford's SafeCap, Opposite Of Niven and Barnes' Napcap
'In the napcap a client became an instant yoga master...'

Would You Get 'Chipped'? Michigan May Ban Employers
'Employees above a certain level were implanted with advanced microprocessors...'

Tesla Autopilot: What Does An Autonomous Car See When It Looks At The Road?
'Jeremiah is a sports-model to begin with and that kind is awfully hot-tempered.'

DNA Controls Swarms Of Molecular Robots
'They exist in loose swarms...'

Tether Asteroids To Save Us All
'If anything can glue the asteroids back into the planet they once were, magnology will do it.'

Blaux Your Personal Commuter Cooling Unit
A cooling unit had to be strapped to every commuter's back, by law.

3D Printed Damascus Steel Now Possible
'...lined with durite, that strange close-packed laboratory product.'

R9X Hellfire Missile With Long Blades Kills Queda Leader
'He was still roaring when the knife missile flicked past him...'

Would You Swallow An Origami Robot?
'Swallow it in an emergency--it goes down easily and works just as well inside as outside.'

Perhaps You Might Be Interested In Habitable Exoplanet Moon Real Estate
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

Blurry Face Photos Made 60 Times Sharper
Perfect tool for blade runners.

SpaceX Will Build Floating Spaceports!
'...a single perfectly level platform, which rose so high above the water that it was not splashed by the waves.'

Fast Radio Bursts And Space Beacons For Interstellar Navigation
'Every beacon has a code signal as part of its radiation...'

Robot Garbage Trucks Visualized
'It was a bulky, shining cylinder over twenty metres long.'

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.