The First Word

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Scientists recently extracted the first word from ancient scrolls that were charred during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD and thought to be lost forever, the Guardian reported.

These scrolls, preserved for centuries at the site of Herculaneum in southern Italy, are part of a collection housed at the Paris-based Institut de France and are believed to have come from a villa owned by a senior Roman statesman.

The discovery was part of “the Vesuvius challenge,” a competition that sought to decrypt these almost indecipherable texts by releasing thousands of 3D X-ray images of these scrolls and employing artificial intelligence to decipher them.

The winning word uncovered from one of these scrolls is “πορφύραc,” which translates to “purple.”

The Herculaneum scrolls have long fascinated researchers due to what they could possibly tell us. Also, most texts found in this collection are written in ancient Greek, but it is suspected that some may be in Latin. The known fragments have already provided glimpses into works by philosophers like Philodemus and details of Hellenistic dynastic history.

The findings represent a significant leap in the ongoing effort to unlock the wealth of knowledge contained within these scrolls. The hope is that these texts may contain lost works of famous authors, historical documents, and other invaluable insights into the ancient world.

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