Latest in Gear

Image credit: Reuters/Edgar Su

Scanning technique reads hidden writing in mummy boxes

You don't have to destroy history to discover lost texts.
668 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Sponsored Links

Reuters/Edgar Su

Historians can use scanning to peek inside mummies without risking damage, but that hasn't been true for the papyrus boxes those mummies were placed in before entering the tomb. If you've wanted to read the discarded everyday writing on that papyrus, you've typically had to destroy the boxes. That won't be necessary from now on, though: researchers at University College London have developed a scanning technique that lets you read a mummy case's writing while leaving it intact.

If you scan the cases with light at different frequencies, you can make the ink glow and thus see under the paste and plaster that would normally obscure the text. A lot of the writing is unspectacular (the BBC describes them as shopping lists and tax returns), but that's the point -- it's about discovering Egyptian history beyond royalty and other famous people.

The technique has already found success with one mummy stored in Kent. It's not certain that it'll find widespread adoption, but it's hard to see historians turning this down. Much as with techniques used to read closed books, this lets researchers have the best of both worlds: they can read 'secret' text without having to sacrifice priceless relics.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
668 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Popular on Engadget

Runkeeper drops its Wear OS app due to a 'buggy experience'

Runkeeper drops its Wear OS app due to a 'buggy experience'

View
Drako's GTE electric supercar will be a four-motor, 1,200HP monster

Drako's GTE electric supercar will be a four-motor, 1,200HP monster

View
Nintendo says there is no Switch exchange program

Nintendo says there is no Switch exchange program

View
IKEA creates a business unit devoted to smart home tech

IKEA creates a business unit devoted to smart home tech

View
US will reportedly give Huawei another temporary reprieve

US will reportedly give Huawei another temporary reprieve

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr