Scientists Reveal Newly Legible Pompeii Scrolls, Unread For Almost 2,000 Years. Is History About To Blow Up?

(Photo by Antonio Masiello/Getty Images)

Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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Members of the Vesuvius Challenge announced Monday that a series of ancient scrolls, once flash-fried during a volcanic eruption, are legible after almost 2,000 years.

The Vesuvius Challenge, launched in 2023, was no simple undertaking: members were tasked with solving the ancient problem of the Herculaneum Papyri — “a library of scrolls that were flash-fried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D.,” wrote Nat Friedman, one of the project members. Friedman announced Monday that the project was a success and the winners of the $700,000 prize were awarded.

A photograph shared by Friedman shows fifteen columns on the scrolls believed to have been written by Epicurean philosopher Philodemus. Apparently he liked to talk about music, food and life’s pleasures. He also liked throwing shade at his adversaries, who “have nothing to say about pleasure, either in general or in particular.”

This Philodemus guy sounds like he would have made a great Daily Caller columnist.

The revealed text makes up just 5% of one scroll, so the goal for 2024 is to read at least 90% of all four scrolls within the scanned collection, Friedman said. (RELATED: Residents Of Once-Lost Roman Estate Likely Watched Thousands Die In Ancient Cataclysm, Researchers Claim)

An Italian farmworker discovered the hundreds of scrolls within the collection, along with enormous frescoes and statues, according to the Vesuvius Challenge website. Many were destroyed when they were first opened, but those that remain could shed light on chapters of human history long-lost to the victors.