HOPE FOR READING THE SCROLLS AT HERCULANEUM. I posted here about my hopes that the scrolls at Herculaneum can eventually be read and about a New Yorker story about the Herculaneum scrolls that ended in disappointment. The Economist (September 14) had an article about the success of a team headed by William Seales, a computer scientist at the University of Kentucky, in reading a scroll from the Dead Sea area from about 600 A.D. The scroll had been damaged by a fire and could not be opened without destroying it.

Among the things that the team did to virtually read the scroll was to construct algorithms to distinguish one layer of the scroll from those above and below it. They also looked for “subtle density variations that might correspond to the presence or absence of ink—–and thus reveal individual letters.” The hundreds of resulting small images were then combined into a single large image. Here is a report on the Science Advances website which describes what was done in more detail.

The Economist expresses hope that these techniques can be applied successfully to scrolls from Herculaneum.

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