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Posted on Feb 11, 2015 in History News

Burned Vesuvius Scrolls to be Read by 3-D X-ray

Burned Vesuvius Scrolls to be Read by 3-D X-ray

By Gerald D. Swick

The eruption of Italy’s Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD both destroyed and preserved the city of Herculaneum—destroyed buildings and took human lives but also perfectly preserved the city and its citizens’ bodies beneath hardened lava. Excavations of the site began in 1738 and continue to the present day.

Among the items removed from the city and preserved elsewhere are hundreds of papyrus scrolls containing the words of the ancients, found in the Villa of the Papyri. The intense heat reduced many of the scrolls to carbon lumps, but now researchers are utilizing a 3-D X-ray imaging technique known as X-ray phase contrast tomography to read those scrolls.

Learn more in this article about the Villa of the Papyri scrolls by Rossella Lorenzi on


IMAGE: Modern panorama of the excavations at Herculeanum, by Lalupa. Source: Wikipedia.