Can technology unravel the secrets sealed by Mt. Vesuvius 2,000 years ago?

You’ve heard of Pompeii, the ancient Roman city destroyed when Mt. Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79. Less well known is the neighboring city of Herculaneum, also buried by the volcano. When the city was re-discovered in the 1700s, excavators found what could be the richest repository of ancient Western wisdom: a library filled with papyrus scrolls. Scholars think there could be unknown Greek and Latin masterpieces, possibly early Christian writings, even the first references to Jesus. The problem is, the volcanic heat left the scrolls so charred and brittle, no one has been able to open them without breaking them into pieces. We heard three scholars might finally have found a way to unravel the mystery of the scrolls. So we traveled to Italy to see what we could uncover about the scrolls of Herculaneum.

The Italian city of Ercolano sits along the Bay of Naples on the western slope of Mt. Vesuvius.  The city bustles with the chaos of Italian traffic and the easy flow of Italian life. It’s not a wealthy place, but beneath these narrow streets lies buried treasure, the ancient Roman seaside town of Herculaneum entombed along with Pompeii in A.D. 79. The modern city is built on top of the ancient city.

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