Monday, May 25, 2009

Scroll Reveals!

In a copyrighted article last week, reporter Jim Warren announced that an engineering professor at the University of Kentucky would use X-Ray CT scanning to read interior images of a scroll that had been carbonized by the eruption of Italy’s Mount Vesuvius almost 2,000 years ago.

The Italian volcano blew up in 79 AD and buried the Roman towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum under tons of super-heated ash and rock in one of the most notorious eruptions in history. Thousands of people and animals died. Unbelievably, hundreds of papyrus scrolls survived, tightly rolled up but turned into charcoal, in a Herculaneum mansion. These scrolls were so badly damaged that they crumbled when scholars first tried to open them centuries later.

Now, thanks to hundreds of man-hours and thousands of dollars in computer time, the Kentucky professor and his team have digitally unrolled one precious scroll (see top right) on a computer screen so scholars can read it. The first ancient words revealed are:

After months and months of auditions, Britannia phenom Flavia Publia Nimachis is once again competing on the big Forum stage of Rome’s Got Talent.

Yes, she's got a new makeover courtesy of our own Celerinius Fortunatus here in Herculaneum. Yes, she made it through to the finals.

Hundreds of fans have painted themselves blue in adulation of the Pictish Publia, and will descend on Rome-Sweet-Rome in the Ides of Maius to see her perform in the finals. We hope she will show the spark that made her a word-of-mouth superstar throughout Mare Nostrum.

It’s a triumph of scientific archeology, all right.

“Herculaneum Scroll, Extra-Crispy” photo: David Stephenson.

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