• Reuters

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Scientists at Britain’s national synchrotron facility have harnessed powerful light beams to virtually unwrap and decipher fragile scrolls dating back 2,000 years in a process they hope will provide new insights into the ancient world.

The two complete scrolls and four fragments — from the so-called Herculaneum library, the only one surviving from antiquity — were buried and carbonized by the deadly eruption of Mount Vesuvius in the year 79, which also buried the city of Pompeii, and are too fragile to be opened.

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