University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Cavendish HEP Seminars > Reading charcoal: Using HEP detectors to decipher papirii

Reading charcoal: Using HEP detectors to decipher papirii

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact William Fawcett.

I will introduce the problem of reading ancient documents, in this particular project working on reconstruction of text from scrolls found in Herculanuem near Mt. Vesuvis. These are made from papyrus and have been written on using organic inks. After the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD, these been slow-cooked under exclusion of oxygen, and hence turned into lumps of charcoal. All attempts of unrolling these subjects have been destructive.

First indications show that dark-field x-ray imaging allows to make the ink of these documents visible and there is good hope that this assumption holds for multi-layered documents that cannot be unrolled. I will introduce dark-field x-ray imaging, report on where we are with the project, what’s lacking at the moment and where we plan to get to within the next year(s).

This talk is part of the Cavendish HEP Seminars series.

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