April 18, 2005


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For more than a century, it has caused excitement and frustration in equal measure - a collection of Greek and Roman writings so vast it could redraw the map of classical civilisation. If only it was legible.

Now, in a breakthrough described as the classical equivalent of finding the holy grail, Oxford University scientists have employed infra-red technology to open up the hoard, known as the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, and with it the prospect that hundreds of lost Greek comedies, tragedies and epic poems will soon be revealed.

In the past four days alone, Oxford's classicists have used it to make a series of astonishing discoveries, including writing by Sophocles, Euripides, Hesiod and other literary giants of the ancient world, lost for millennia. They even believe they are likely to find lost Christian gospels, the originals of which were written around the time of the earliest books of the New Testament.

The original papyrus documents, discovered in an ancient rubbish dump in central Egypt, are often meaningless to the naked eye - decayed, worm-eaten and blackened by the passage of time. But scientists using the new photographic technique, developed from satellite imaging, are bringing the original writing back into view. Academics have hailed it as a development which could lead to a 20 per cent increase in the number of great Greek and Roman works in existence. Some are even predicting a "second Renaissance".

Posted by: Physics Geek at 04:25 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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1 Wonder if they'll find anything from Stephenus Kingus? :-)

Posted by: Harvey at April 18, 2005 04:48 PM (tJfh1)

2 Could be, but I'm betting on the early works of Haroldus Robbinus, an early novelist/pugilist who defeated Leonus Sinkus in round VII.

Posted by: physics geek at April 18, 2005 06:59 PM (Xvrs7)

3 There you go again. Stealing lines from Bosom Buddies. Bad, PG. Bad.

Posted by: Jeff at April 18, 2005 07:07 PM (hwktB)

4 But it's a great line!!! And you can't prove I ever watched Bosom Buddies. I heard it on, uh, Hardball. Sure.

Posted by: physics geek at April 18, 2005 08:25 PM (Xvrs7)

5 Anybody who's read "The Name of the Rose" will be awaiting Aristotle's treatise on humor.

Posted by: Joseph Hertzlinger at April 19, 2005 05:16 AM (3mL8Y)

6 Sadly, I haven't yet had the pleasure. I did see the movie, though. Pretty good flick.

Posted by: physics geek at April 19, 2005 01:35 PM (Xvrs7)

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