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Papyrus Reveals New Clues to Ancient World

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Classical Greek and Roman literature is being read for the first time in 2,000 years thanks to new technology. The previously illegible texts are among a hoard of papyrus manuscripts. Scholars say the rediscovered writings will provide a fascinating new window into the ancient world.

Salvaged from an ancient garbage dump in Egypt, the collection is kept at Oxford University in England. Known as the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, the collection includes writings by great classical Greek authors such as Homer, Sophocles, and Euripides.

Using a technique called multi-spectral imaging, researchers have uncovered texts that include

parts of a lost tragedy by Sophocles, the 5th-century B.C. Athenian playwright;
sections of a long-vanished novel by Lucian, the second-century Greek writer; and
an epic poem by Archilochos, which describes events that led to the Trojan War.

Christopher Pelling, regius professor of Greek at Oxford University, said the works are "central texts which scholars have been speculating about for centuries."

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