X-ray technique 'reads' burnt Vesuvius scroll

Submitted by birdie on Tue, 01/20/2015 - 15:11
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There's rare books and then there's even more rare scrolls. From the BBC:

For the first time, words have been read from a burnt, rolled-up scroll buried by Mount Vesuvius in AD79.
The scrolls of Herculaneum, the only classical library still in existence, were blasted by volcanic gas hotter than 300C and are desperately fragile.

Deep inside one scroll, physicists distinguished the ink from the paper using a 3D X-ray imaging technique sometimes used in breast scans. They believe that other scrolls could also be deciphered without unrolling.

The work appears in the journal Nature Communications.