WXXI AM News

Connections: Trying to solve one of the world's great mysteries -- and read ancient books

Mar 6, 2017

For all of ways we use the term "Epicurean," here's something strange: the original works of Epicurus himself have never been found. It's only through letters and quotations that we glimpse his work. But what if a library on a seaside villa contains the lost works of Epicurus -- and dozens of others?

When Mount Vesuvius buried Pompeii in 79 AD, it also buried Herculaneum. That seaside estate contained a library of many scrolls, and the volcanic ash preserved the scrolls... in a manner of speaking. They look like lumps of coal, but top scientists are desperate to find a way to either unspool them without destroying them, or to use new technology to peer inside. What might we find? How could we do it? What other ancient texts are begging to be read, if we can only figure out how? Our guests:

  • Brent Seales, professor and chair of the Department of Computer Science, and director of the Center for Visualization and Virtual Environments at the University of Kentucky
  • Roger Easton, professor of imaging science and director of the Laboratory for Imaging of Historical Artifacts at the Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Greg Heyworth, associate professor of English and Textual Science and director of the Lazarus Project at the University of Rochester