This week in history news, we explore some of the most fascinating discoveries from the ancient world, including a Roman scroll decoded by AI, a Japanese sword from the fourth century, and a Hercules statue found in a sewer.
AI Decodes 2,000-Year-Old Roman Scroll Singed By Mount Vesuvius
One of the most remarkable achievements of this week was the decoding of a 2,000-year-old Roman scroll that was scorched shut by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 C.E. The scroll, which belonged to the philosopher Philodemus, was a treatise on the nature of pleasure. It was part of a library of thousands of scrolls that were buried under the ashes of Pompeii and neighboring cities.
The scroll was deciphered by three students, who used CT scans and AI to reconstruct the text from the charred layers of papyrus. The students, from Germany, Switzerland, and the U.S., participated in the Vesuvius Challenge, a competition organized by the Institute for Digital Archaeology. Their work represents a breakthrough for the field of digital humanities, as it opens new possibilities for reading ancient texts that were previously inaccessible.
A Seven-Foot Sword And A Shield-Shaped Mirror Found In A Fourth-Century Japanese Tomb
Another stunning discovery from this week was the unearthing of a massive, seven-foot iron sword and a bronze mirror shaped like a shield from a fourth-century tomb in Japan. The tomb, located in Nara Prefecture, dates to the Kofun period (circa 300-538 C.E.), when Japan was ruled by powerful clans and emperors.
The sword and the mirror were found in November last year, but their significance was only announced this week by the Archaeological Institute of Kashihara. The sword, known as a dāko, is one of the largest and oldest of its kind ever found in Japan. The mirror, which has a diameter of 18 inches, is also a rare and valuable artifact, as it reflects the cultural and religious influences of ancient China and Korea on Japan.
A Statue Of Hercules Found In A Roman Sewer
The third remarkable discovery from this week was the finding of a statue of a Hercules-like figure in a Roman sewer in Rome. The statue, which depicts a muscular man wearing a lion’s skin, was unearthed during the excavation of an ancient sewer along the Appian Way, one of the oldest and most important roads in the Roman Empire.
The statue, which is made of marble, dates to the Roman imperial period (27 B.C.E to 476 C.E.). It was found about 65 feet below the ground, along with other artifacts such as pottery, coins, and animal bones. The statue is believed to represent Hercules, the legendary hero and son of Zeus, who was revered by the Romans as a symbol of strength and courage.