Scientists read an ancient scroll without opening it

The document, discovered in the 1970s in a destroyed Hebrew church, is more than 2, 000 years old. It is a crumpled fabric charred to ash, which cannot be unfolded without being completely destroyed. For many years the artifact "En-Gedi Scroll" was kept in a preserved state until it was entrusted to a team of researchers led by Brent Cials to test a new decryption technique.

Scientists from the University of Kentucky have used a new version of an analogue tomograph, which scans very small objects using X-rays. Moreover, the scanning was performed in 3D, which made it possible to simply bring the scroll for the procedure and then take it back to the storage without opening it. One session - and you can work with a virtual copy of the treasure without fear of its safety.

Despite the intricate shape of the charred material, experts were able to divide it into flat, digitized pages. And the characteristic trace, the chemical signature, helped to identify the metal in the long-dried ink and to reveal the letters. The software was experimental, but after the success of the experiment, Cials plans to adapt the software for colleagues from other museums around the world.

The text on the burnt scroll was the oldest passage ever found from the Book of Leviticus. Interestingly, the writing style corresponds to modern Hebrew, and the text is almost identical to the one on the basis of which the translations for the Old Testament in the Protestant Bible were made.