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Bukreeva, I.; Mittone, A.; Bravin, A.; Festa, G.; Alessandrelli, M.; Coan, P.; Formoso, V.; Agostino, R. G.; Giocondo, M.; Ciuchi, F.; Fratini, M.; Massimi, L.; Lamarra, A.; Andreani, C.; Bartolino, R.; Gigli, G.; Ranocchia, G.; Cedola, A. (2016): Virtual unrolling and deciphering of Herculaneum papyri by X-ray phase-contrast tomography. In: Scientific Reports, Vol. 6, 27227


A collection of more than 1800 carbonized papyri, discovered in the Roman 'Villa dei Papiri' at Herculaneum is the unique classical library survived from antiquity. These papyri were charred during 79 A.D. Vesuvius eruption, a circumstance which providentially preserved them until now. This magnificent collection contains an impressive amount of treatises by Greek philosophers and, especially, Philodemus of Gadara, an Epicurean thinker of 1st century BC. We read many portions of text hidden inside carbonized Herculaneum papyri using enhanced X-ray phase-contrast tomography non-destructive technique and a new set of numerical algorithms for 'virtual-unrolling'. Our success lies in revealing the largest portion of Greek text ever detected so far inside unopened scrolls, with unprecedented spatial resolution and contrast, all without damaging these precious historical manuscripts. Parts of text have been decoded and the 'voice' of the Epicurean philosopher Philodemus is brought back again after 2000 years from Herculaneum papyri.