Thursday 20 September 2007

Powerful X-ray To Unravel Fragile Dead Sea Scrolls

Ancient writings from the Dead Sea scrolls are to be read for the first time by British scientists using powerful x-rays. The team will examine rare and unread fragments of the scrolls, which are believed to shed light on how the texts came to be written in caves along the north-west coast of the sea nearly 2,000 years ago.

The technique will give scientists from Cardiff University a first opportunity to read ancient texts considered too fragile to open. They will look at the texts using x-rays produced at the Diamond Light Source in Didcot, Oxfordshire. The machine works by propelling electrons at great speeds around a giant tunnel. As they corner, they emit x-rays 100bn times brighter than a medical x-ray.

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