Reading Old Books: Technology and Ancient Manuscripts

Read about a new technology that could reveal long lost secrets… from Kristen Twardowski, rapidly becoming one of my favourite bloggers.

Kristen Twardowski

It seems that using technology to see inside a closed book is having a popular moment in the scientific community. In addition to the recent advances in using radiation to see through a book cover, scientists are using scans to ‘unwrap’ ancient scrolls.

Using a micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) scan, researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem were able to virtually unwrap the En-Gedi scroll, a document that contains text from the Book of Leviticus and is the oldest book relating to Jewish and Christian scriptures ever found. Though researchers have known about the scrolls since its rediscovery in 1970, they never believed that they would be able to read its contents. The scroll itself is exceedingly fragile and was nearly destroyed by a fire in 600 AD. Scholars feared that if they touched it, the scroll would simply dissolve into chunks of ash.


The micro-CT scan, however, allowed researches…

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