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posted by janrinok on Wednesday July 22 2015, @05:04PM   Printer-friendly
from the I've-already-read-it-in-paperback dept.

A scroll that had been burnt to charcoal inside the Ein Gedi synagogue some 1,500 years ago has now been read for the first time, thanks to modern technology.

Ein Gedi is an oasis located on the western shore of the Dead Sea, where fresh water flows from underground year-round. Over the millennia, it has been home to various human settlements, including a Jewish village with a synagogue erected in the third century.

One of the additions to the synagogue, made in the fourth century, was a niche in the northern wall, which housed an ark, a receptacle to contain the synagogue's scrolls of Torah. The Torah is comprised of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy -- the first five books of the Bible.

An archaeological expedition to the Ein Gedi synagogue uncovered the ancient scroll in 1970 -- the oldest scroll discovered since the Dead Sea Scrolls were found between 1946 and 1956. The Dead Sea Scrolls, dating from between around 408 BC to 308 AD, however, were in good condition.

The Ein Gedi scroll -- carbon dated to the sixth century -- was not. It was burned and blackened into charcoal -- unable to be unrolled and deciphered.

[...]

"This discovery absolutely astonished us: We were certain it was just a shot in the dark but decided to try and scan the burnt scroll anyway," curator and director of the Israel Antiquities Authority's Dead Sea Scrolls projects Pnina Shor said. "Now, not only can we bequeath the Dead Sea Scrolls to future generations, but also a part of the Bible from a Holy Ark of a 1,500-year old synagogue!"


Original Submission

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Trio Wins $700K Vesuvius Challenge Grand Prize for Deciphering Ancient Scroll 4 comments

https://arstechnica.com/science/2024/02/trio-wins-700k-vesuvius-challenge-grand-prize-for-deciphering-ancient-scroll/

Last fall we reported on the use of machine learning to decipher the first letters from a previously unreadable ancient scroll found in an ancient Roman villa at Herculaneum—part of the 2023 Vesuvius Challenge. Tech entrepreneur and challenge co-founder Nat Friedman has now announced via X (formerly Twitter) that they have awarded the grand prize of $700,000 for producing the first readable text. The three winning team members are Luke Farritor, Yousef Nader, and Julian Schilliger.

As previously reported, the ancient Roman resort town Pompeii wasn't the only city destroyed in the catastrophic 79 AD eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Several other cities in the area, including the wealthy enclave of Herculaneum, were fried by clouds of hot gas called pyroclastic pulses and flows.

[...] Brent Searles' lab at the University of Kentucky has been working on deciphering the Herculaneum scrolls for many years. He employs a different method of "virtually unrolling" damaged scrolls, which he used in 2016 to "open" a scroll found on the western shore of the Dead Sea, revealing the first few verses from the book of Leviticus. The team's approach combined digital scanning with micro-computed tomography—a noninvasive technique often used for cancer imaging—with segmentation to digitally create pages, augmented with texturing and flattening techniques. Then they developed software (Volume Cartography) to unroll the scroll virtually.

[...] In October, Farritor, a college student and SpaceX intern, successfully read the first text hidden within one of the rolled-up scrolls using a machine-learning model. The achievement snagged him $40,000. Nader, an Egyptian bio-robotics student in Berlin, received a smaller $10,000 First Ink prize for essentially being the second person to decipher letters in a scroll. Schilliger, a Swiss robotics student at ETH Zurich, won three Segmentation Tooling prizes, which enabled 3D mapping of the papyrus.

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  • (Score: 4, Funny) by Freeman on Wednesday July 22 2015, @05:28PM

    by Freeman (732) on Wednesday July 22 2015, @05:28PM (#212410) Journal

    Now, you also need to use a mortar and pestle to truly destroy that secret document you just burned. Good to know.

    --
    Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
    • (Score: 3, Funny) by The Archon V2.0 on Wednesday July 22 2015, @06:04PM

      by The Archon V2.0 (3887) on Wednesday July 22 2015, @06:04PM (#212418)

      I just eat them.

      Secrets taste goooood.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by bob_super on Wednesday July 22 2015, @06:34PM

        by bob_super (1357) on Wednesday July 22 2015, @06:34PM (#212427)

        I'm readying a shipment of arsenic-laden paper written with lead paint.
        What's the postal address of ISIS's headquarters?

  • (Score: 5, Funny) by Alfred on Wednesday July 22 2015, @06:07PM

    by Alfred (4006) on Wednesday July 22 2015, @06:07PM (#212419) Journal
    they didn't unroll it, they cut it open. So this kind of scanning is an improvement.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copper_Scroll [wikipedia.org]
    It was mostly copper with some tin, no word on if it was officially RoHS compliant.
  • (Score: 5, Informative) by wonkey_monkey on Wednesday July 22 2015, @06:08PM

    by wonkey_monkey (279) on Wednesday July 22 2015, @06:08PM (#212422) Homepage

    It would have been nice - given the reasonably expected inclinations of the usual readership here - to have seen the techniques used described using more words than just "modern technology" in the summary.

    Spoiler alert: it was done with X-rays.

    Copying-and-pasting the opening paragraphs of an article isn't the best way of creating a Soylentil-friendly summary.

    --
    systemd is Roko's Basilisk
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 22 2015, @06:35PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 22 2015, @06:35PM (#212428)

      This.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by janrinok on Wednesday July 22 2015, @07:01PM

      by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 22 2015, @07:01PM (#212438) Journal

      Agreed - but we have so few submissions we are having to rely on story scrapes to provide stories.

      --
      I am not interested in knowing who people are or where they live. My interest starts and stops at our servers.
    • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Wednesday July 22 2015, @07:05PM

      by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 22 2015, @07:05PM (#212441) Journal
      Er, the title says '3D scanning'.
      --
      I am not interested in knowing who people are or where they live. My interest starts and stops at our servers.
      • (Score: 2) by wonkey_monkey on Wednesday July 22 2015, @07:19PM

        by wonkey_monkey (279) on Wednesday July 22 2015, @07:19PM (#212444) Homepage

        True, but there again it's a) still just two words (if "3D" is a word) and b) summaries should have more information than the headline, not less.

        --
        systemd is Roko's Basilisk
        • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Wednesday July 22 2015, @07:30PM

          by Freeman (732) on Wednesday July 22 2015, @07:30PM (#212449) Journal

          Yes, 3D is a word. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/3-d/ [merriam-webster.com] Though, to be fair according to Webster it should be "3-D". I suspect it was shorthand for Three Dimensional. Though, who actually first started using the shorthand 3D is beyond me, but they were probably in marketing.

          --
          Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
      • (Score: 2) by mrchew1982 on Wednesday July 22 2015, @09:09PM

        by mrchew1982 (3565) on Wednesday July 22 2015, @09:09PM (#212480)

        Technically a CT scan or a CAT scan uses x-rays from multiple angles to create a 3 dimensional image. An MRI uses magnetic fields to do the same thing.

        So it is both a 3d scan and an x-ray, or rather a series of x-rays.

    • (Score: 2) by CoolHand on Wednesday July 22 2015, @07:24PM

      by CoolHand (438) on Wednesday July 22 2015, @07:24PM (#212447) Journal
      Doesn't there need to be some motivation to read TFA, instead of just TFS?
      --
      Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job-Douglas Adams
      • (Score: 2) by wonkey_monkey on Wednesday July 22 2015, @11:15PM

        by wonkey_monkey (279) on Wednesday July 22 2015, @11:15PM (#212515) Homepage

        I don't know, does there? What does SoylentNews get out of it if I go and read the article? If all the pertinent Soylent-y info from an article can be condensed into a nice, concise summary, isn't that okay?

        In any case, if there should be some motivation to read further, it shouldn't be that the summary didn't provide (as in this case) any of the technical details, which is what most Soylentils would, I think, be hoping for.

        --
        systemd is Roko's Basilisk
        • (Score: 5, Informative) by Phoenix666 on Thursday July 23 2015, @01:03AM

          by Phoenix666 (552) on Thursday July 23 2015, @01:03AM (#212530) Journal

          Because others have complained in the past that submitters have put words in the mouth of the article or have somehow inaccurately or inappropriately abridged the content. So I try to pick representative paragraphs and maybe throw a conversation starter in at the end. If you have a better way to do it please jump in and fill the queue every morning for a week to show the rest of us what a standard acceptable to you would look like.

          --
          Washington DC delenda est.
  • (Score: 1, Funny) by krishnoid on Wednesday July 22 2015, @07:04PM

    by krishnoid (1156) on Wednesday July 22 2015, @07:04PM (#212440)

    Are these the same 'carbon dating' techniques that identify dinosaur fossils as being millions of years old? And these scientists think they can use this jiggery-pokery to authenticate the age of a piece of scripture? Ridiculous.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by pTamok on Wednesday July 22 2015, @07:24PM

      by pTamok (3042) on Wednesday July 22 2015, @07:24PM (#212446)

      Are these the same 'carbon dating' techniques that identify dinosaur fossils as being millions of years old? And these scientists think they can use this jiggery-pokery to authenticate the age of a piece of scripture? Ridiculous.

      I would be absolutely fascinated to know which carbon dating technique is used to identify fossils as being millions of years old, as radiocarbon dating, due to the half life of the isotopes concerned, works only up to to about 75,000 years before present.

      See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiocarbon_dating#Errors_and_reliability [wikipedia.org]

      There is more than one radiometric dating tchnique: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiometric_dating [wikipedia.org]

      • (Score: 2) by krishnoid on Wednesday July 22 2015, @08:06PM

        by krishnoid (1156) on Wednesday July 22 2015, @08:06PM (#212458)

        Dang! At least I learned something, thanks.

    • (Score: 4, Funny) by meisterister on Wednesday July 22 2015, @08:33PM

      by meisterister (949) on Wednesday July 22 2015, @08:33PM (#212470) Journal

      Maybe a better application of the technology would be to determine the age of the phrase "jiggery-pokery"

      --
      (May or may not have been) Posted from my K6-2, Athlon XP, or Pentium I/II/III.
  • (Score: 4, Informative) by pTamok on Wednesday July 22 2015, @07:27PM

    by pTamok (3042) on Wednesday July 22 2015, @07:27PM (#212448)

    This one:

    Paywalled: http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2015/150120/ncomms6895/full/ncomms6895.html [nature.com]

    "Revealing letters in rolled Herculaneum papyri by X-ray phase-contrast imaging"

    Not paywallwd: http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/2015/01/tomography-allows-ancient-papyrus-texts-rise-ashes-herculaneum [rsc.org]

  • (Score: 2) by RobotMonster on Wednesday July 22 2015, @08:09PM

    by RobotMonster (130) on Wednesday July 22 2015, @08:09PM (#212460) Journal

    All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

    (apologies to Red Dwarf).

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 22 2015, @09:51PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 22 2015, @09:51PM (#212489)

    >>The Dead Sea Scrolls, dating from between around 408 BC to 308 AD, however, were in good condition.

    Better condition - yes. Good condition - not so much. Unless you think a gazzillion piece jigsaw puzzle is fun. Some of the scrolls are in reasonable condition for their age. Others are a mess and will likely never be readable.

  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 23 2015, @03:26AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 23 2015, @03:26AM (#212548)

    >>2679375

    Deuteronomy 22 28-29, HEBREW.

    It does say child.

    Read Deuteronomy 22 28-29, in hebrew.

    Notice the word used for girl there, means from infancy till adolecence.

    #5291 na`arah {nah-ar-aw'}
    Feminine of H5288; a girl (from infancy to adolescence):\u2014damsel, maid (-en), young (woman).

    Also in the hebrew writing it doesn't even use the full word for girl (the feminine part adds an extra letter). The hebrew writing uses the normal male version of the word (H5288) and then says this will be your women. IE: if you rape a child, she will be your woman. Same in spanish when you want to just say child (nino), you can also specify feminine (nina).

    Bet you didn't know that either as you haven't looked at the hebrew.

    If you want to argue about the hebrew words more, here: http://pastebin.com/mzFJyxea [pastebin.com] and http://pastebin.com/CaAwbpbK [pastebin.com]

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 23 2015, @09:21AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 23 2015, @09:21AM (#212601)

      How is this a troll.

      Fucking SJWs ignore what they even mention in the summary.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by janrinok on Thursday July 23 2015, @02:23PM

      by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Thursday July 23 2015, @02:23PM (#212678) Journal
      I suspect it is marked as a Troll because no-one here is remotely interested in your personal interpretation of what you believe the bible says, or why you think it justifies your predilection to paedophilia.
      --
      I am not interested in knowing who people are or where they live. My interest starts and stops at our servers.
    • (Score: 1) by Azuma Hazuki on Friday July 24 2015, @12:39AM

      by Azuma Hazuki (5086) on Friday July 24 2015, @12:39AM (#212943) Journal

      Hello again, Fizzbuzz. You're pathetic on Freenode's #sourceforge and you're pathetic here. Die and rot already, you damned lolicon.

      --
      I am "that girl" your mother warned you about...