Scans re­veal the se­crets of papyrus

Science Illustrated - - HISTORY -

On Ele­phan­tine Is­land in the Nile, Ger­man Egyp­tol­o­gists dis­cov­ered piles of an­cient papyrus writ­ings in the late 1800s, too frag­ile to be unfolded and read. Not un­til now, sci­en­tists from the Egyp­tian Mu­seum in Ber­lin have dared to try.

Us­ing CT scan­ners, sci­en­tists can turn the folded papyrus into some 10,000 dig­i­tal discs, which they will sub­se­quently "un­fold" and re­con­struct by means of a com­puter pro­gramme. The work will con­tinue un­til 2020.. The texts – of which some date back from 2500 BC – in­clude food recipes, tem­ple ac­counts, di­vorce doc­u­ments and more. PO­TEN­TIAL: New sources, which could teach us more about ev­ery­day life in An­cient Egypt. CHAL­LENGE: Many writ­ings are badly dam­aged and might be im­pos­si­ble to scan. Papyrus was for­merly suc­cess­fully scanned. This roll is from Her­cu­la­neum, Italy.

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