Scientists find a way to read the scrolls once recovered near Pompeii

In A.D. 79, eruption of the Mount Vesuvius destroyed Pompei, a fact known to many of us. A significant part of rich history and heritage got wiped out with Pompeii.

But in a recent breakthrough, scientists from Vito Mocella, of the Institute for Microelectronics and Microsystems in Naples, Italy could read the burnt carbonized scrolls for the first time in 2000 years. All previous attempts to read these scrolls have failed. Most of them caused severe destruction of these scrolls. Little more than 300 scrolls are available presently.

The researchers made use of a laser like beam of X-rays from the European Synchrotron in Grenoble, France.


As described by The New York Times, these scrolls were discovered around 260 years ago from the ruins of small Roman tow Herculaneum, situated near Pompeii. These documents were preserved in a grand villa, supposed to be owned by the father-in-law of Julius Caesar.

These beams of X-rays are so strong that scientists could read individual Greek letters written on the papyri. The technology enabled them to recognize the slight contrast that existed between the carbonized papyri and the ink used.

Using this contrast, scientists also successfully identified handwriting of philosopher Philodemus as an author of one scroll. The team now wants to improve this technology to rediscover the lost treasures finely scripted in those documents.

“This study, without compromising the physical integrity of the roll, has not merely discovered traces of the ink inside it, but has also helped identify with a certain likelihood the style of handwriting used in the text, along with its author,” the researchers added.

Scientists and researchers across the globe are excited with this discovery and consider this outcome to be a great leap to move forward. Once the technology gets further refined, it will probably be possible to rediscover those long gone words of the eminent Roman and Greek Philosophers.