Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Peat bog psalter update How a manuscript found in an Irish peat bog was saved
The first stage of the work, which has almost been completed, is a full investigation of the book in its excavated condition. This has involved an analysis of the binding and book structure, photography, magnetic resonance imaging, multi spectral imaging, analysis of vellum deterioration and an investigation of pollen samples.

Work is about to start on the second stage, which will involve the delicate separation of the pages and the process of drying out the vellum. Sadly, the vellum losses mean that only a fairly small part of the text of the Psalms remains, but it should be enough to enable scholars to see how the book has been written, decorated and bound.

Just don't wreck it.

F Anyone's I, this reminds me of one of my favorite Sci Fi books, Inherit The Stars by James P. Hogan. Great book from the 1970s. It's set in about 2030-ish and a human is found on the moon wearing a space suit, and it's dated to 50,000 years ago. The author has a web site as well, which he adds to fairly often, in addition to answering reader email. The book itself is scientifically well done, with one of the characters providing good basic summaries of evolutionary theory (which is kind of odd since Hogan seems to be entirely un-enamored of said theory, which you will find out if you peruse enough of his site). But it's really a first-rate story and really put the "science" in science fiction. And the ending is truly gripping, if you happen to be a nerdy science type. It was pretty influential on the young ArchaeoBlogger that was me; it made the tedium of real science seem interesting.

But back on topic, the lead character had developed a machine that could reproduce solid objects in 3D (as a hologram) to whatever magnification you wanted. Like a great big 3D real time CAT scanner. They used it to create images of the inside of books found on the body without having to open it. This has slowly been coming true with modern imaging -- see its use on mummies all the time -- but I don't know if it has the precision necessary to scan down to particular depths. Fiendishly complicated, that.