An anonymous reader writes: The hidden content in ancient works could be illuminated by a light source 10 billion times brighter than the Sun.
The technique employs Britain's new facility, the Diamond synchrotron, where intense light beams will enable scientists to uncover the text in scrolls and books without having to open — and potentially damage — them.
Iron gall ink, which is made from oak apples, has been in use from the 12th Century, but causes parchment to deteriorate rendering precious documents unreadable.
Scientists from the University of Cardiff have developed a technique that uses a powerful x-ray source to create a three-dimensional image of an iron-inked document.
The team then applies a computer algorithm to separate the image into the different layers of parchment, in effect using the program to unroll the scroll.
Professor Tim Wess, who led the research, said: "We've folded up a real piece of parchment and then done a process of x-ray tomography on it. We've been able to recover the structure where we can see the words that are written inside the document."
The team now plans to use the Diamond synchrotron's powerful x-ray source to penetrate many layers of parchment.