Speaker B: And the helmets are shaking their purple-dyed crests, and for the wearers of breast-plates the weavers are striking up the wise shuttle’s songs, that wakes up those who are asleep.
is a pretty unexceptional line of a play, unless you happen to be a classicist, familiar enough with the works of Sophocles to say “That’s not Sophecles! I’ve read all that we have of his work, and that not his!” In that case you might scoff at the idea that it’s from Epigonoi, which has been lost for, oh, a thousand years or more.
Now scientists are using multi-spectral imaging techniques developed from satellite technology to read the papyri at Oxford University’s Sackler Library. The fragments, preserved between sheets of glass, respond to the infra-red spectrum – ink invisible to the naked eye can be seen and photographed.
Read the stories in The Independant, “Decoded At Last” and “Eureka.”
The fellow leading the project, Dr. Dirk Obbink, is a MacArthur Fellow, and the project has its own web site.
(The copyfighter types will be either amused or outraged to know that the reconstructed papyrus pictured here is “P.Oxy 2075 © Imaging Papyri Project.“)
[Updated with new links, better image, and some text changes.]