Friday, March 17, 2017

Palimpsests at St. Catherine's Monastery

TECHNOLOGY WATCH: Ancient Parchments Reveal Old Texts Concealed by Newer Ones. In a sixth-century Egyptian monastery’s library, high-tech imaging of parchments reveals thousands of pages of hidden text. (A. R. Williams, National Geographic).
So far the imaging has revealed some 6,800 hidden pages in 74 of the monastery’s 163 recycled parchments, called palimpsests. “We have identified erased texts in 10 languages that date from the fifth to the 12th centuries,” says Michael Phelps, the director of the recovery effort. In the example above, a text in Syriac overlays a ninth-century translation of a page from a medical treatise by the ancient Greco-Roman physician known as Galen.

With dozens of palimpsests yet to be scanned, Phelps believes there are still treasures to come: “It’s not unlikely that St. Catherine’s holds many more pages of previously unidentified and unstudied texts from antiquity.”
Bit by bit, a letter at a time, whatever it takes. Until we're done.

The inception of this project in 2011 was noted here. And for posts on other palimpsests, start here and follow the links.