Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Lost Books of Antiquity

A tip o' the hat to Quotulatiousness for this intriguing story to be found at the Telegraph.

An earthquake or volcanic eruption is likely to destroy a library of ancient books at Herculaneum, near Pompeii, before they can be excavated unless urgent action is taken, according to the founder of a new group based in Oxford.

Scientists have discovered new ways to read 1,800 charred manuscript scrolls already found in the ruins of the so-called Villa of Papyri at Herculaneum, a city that, like neighbouring Pompeii, was buried in volcanic matter when Vesuvius erupted in AD79.

Scholars are convinced that many more scrolls lie awaiting discovery there, among which are probably lost books by great authors such as Aristotle and Livy.
"The chances are very high that much remains to be found in three newly identified and unexplored levels," Professor Robert Fowler told a meeting of the Herculaneum Society at Wadham College, Oxford, at the weekend.

The society was founded last year to promote the excavation and preservation of sites at Herculaneum before it is too late.

I don't know about you, but this news is really exciting to me. Imagine being able to recover books by the likes of Aristotle that were believed to be lost forever. I could add them to the list of books I intend, but never get around, to actually read. Joking aside, this is truly intriguing.


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