Berkeley CSUA MOTD:Entry 37230
Berkeley CSUA MOTD
2017/09/26 [General] UID:1000 Activity:popular

2005/4/17-18 [Academia, Reference/History/WW2] UID:37230 Activity:nil
4/17    Lost Greek plays rediscovered: (
        \_ This is really cool.
        \_ "Oxford academics have been working alongside infra-red
            specialists from Brigham Young University, Utah." I hope they're
            not using magic stones to do the translation.
2017/09/26 [General] UID:1000 Activity:popular

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Daily e-mail update Decoded at last: the 'classical holy grail' that may rewrite the history of the world Scientists begin to unlock the secrets of papyrus scraps bearing long-los t words by the literary giants of Greece and Rome By David Keys and Nicholas Pyke 17 April 2005 For more than a century, it has caused excitement and frustration in equa l measure - a collection of Greek and Roman writings so vast it could re draw the map of classical civilisation. Now, in a breakthrough described as the classical equivalent of finding t he holy grail, Oxford University scientists have employed infra-red tech nology to open up the hoard, known as the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, and with i t the prospect that hundreds of lost Greek comedies, tragedies and epic poems will soon be revealed. In the past four days alone, Oxford's classicists have used it to make a series of astonishing discoveries, including writing by Sophocles, Eurip ides, Hesiod and other literary giants of the ancient world, lost for mi llennia. They even believe they are likely to find lost Christian gospel s, the originals of which were written around the time of the earliest b ooks of the New Testament. The original papyrus documents, discovered in an ancient rubbish dump in central Egypt, are often meaningless to the naked eye - decayed, worm-ea ten and blackened by the passage of time. But scientists using the new p hotographic technique, developed from satellite imaging, are bringing th e original writing back into view. Academics have hailed it as a develop ment which could lead to a 20 per cent increase in the number of great G reek and Roman works in existence. Christopher Pelling, Regius Professor of Greek at the University of Oxfor d, described the new works as "central texts which scholars have been sp eculating about for centuries". Professor Richard Janko, a leading British scholar, formerly of Universit y College London, now head of classics at the University of Michigan, sa id: "Normally we are lucky to get one such find per decade." One discove ry in particular, a 30-line passage from the poet Archilocos, of whom on ly 500 lines survive in total, is described as "invaluable" by Dr Peter Jones, author and co-founder of the Friends of Classics campaign. The papyrus fragments were discovered in historic dumps outside the Graec o-Egyptian town of Oxyrhynchus ("city of the sharp-nosed fish") in centr al Egypt at the end of the 19th century. Running to 400,000 fragments, s tored in 800 boxes at Oxford's Sackler Library, it is the biggest hoard of classical manuscripts in the world. The previously unknown texts, read for the first time last week, include parts of a long-lost tragedy - the Epigonoi ("Progeny") by the 5th-centu ry BC Greek playwright Sophocles; part of a lost novel by the 2nd-centur y Greek writer Lucian; mythological poetr y by the 1st-century BC Greek poet Parthenios; and an epic poem by Archilochos, a 7th-century successor of Homer, describing events leading up to the Trojan War. Additional mat erial from Hesiod, Euripides and Sophocles almost certainly await discov ery. Oxford academics have been working alongside infra-red specialists from B righam Young University, Utah. Their operation is likely to increase the number of great literary works fully or partially surviving from the an cient Greek world by up to a fifth. It could easily double the surviving body of lesser work - the pulp fiction and sitcoms of the day. "The Oxyrhynchus collection is of unparalleled importance - especially no w that it can be read fully and relatively quickly," said the Oxford aca demic directing the research, Dr Dirk Obbink. "The material will shed li ght on virtually every aspect of life in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt, an d, by extension, in the classical world as a whole." The breakthrough has also caught the imagination of cultural commentators . Melvyn Bragg, author and presenter, said: "It's the most fantastic new s There are two things here. The first is how enormously influential th e Greeks were in science and the arts. Bettany Hughes, historian and broadcaster, who has presented TV series in cluding Mysteries of the Ancients and The Spartans, said: "Egyptian rubb ish dumps were gold mines. The classical corpus is like a jigsaw puzzle picked up at a jumble sale - many more pieces missing than are there. Sc holars have always mourned the loss of works of genius - plays by Sophoc les, Sappho's other poems, epics. These discoveries promise to change th e textual map of the golden ages of Greece and Rome." When it has all been read - mainly in Greek, but sometimes in Latin, Hebr ew, Coptic, Syriac, Aramaic, Arabic, Nubian and early Persian - the new material will probably add up to around five million words. Texts deciph ered over the past few days will be published next month by the London-b ased Egypt Exploration Society, which financed the discovery and owns th e collection. A 21st-century technique reveals antiquity's secrets Since it was unearthed more than a century ago, the hoard of documents kn own as the Oxyrhynchus Papyri has fascinated classical scholars. There a re 400,000 fragments, many containing text from the great writers of ant iquity. 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 th e infra-red spectrum - ink invisible to the naked eye can be seen and ph otographed. The fragments form part of a giant "jigsaw puzzle" to be reassembled. Mis sing "pieces" can be supplied from quotations by later authors, and gram matical analysis. 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 shuttl e's songs, that wakes up those who are asleep. Speaker A: And he is gluing together the chariot's rail. These words were written by the Greek dramatist Sophocles, and are the on ly known fragment we have of his lost play Epigonoi (literally "The Prog eny"), the story of the siege of Thebes. Until last week's hi-tech analy sis of ancient scripts at Oxford University, no one knew of their existe nce, and this is the first time they have been published. Sophocles (495-405 BC), was a giant of the golden age of Greek civilisati on, a dramatist who work alongside and competed with Aeschylus, Euripide s and Aristophanes. His best-known work is Oedipus Rex, the play that later gave its name to the Freudian theory, in which the hero kills his father and marries his mother - in a doomed attempt to escape the curse he brings upon himself. Sophocles was the cultured son of a wealthy Greek merchant, living at the height of the Greek empire. An accomplished actor, he performed in many of his own plays. He also served as a priest and sat on the committee t hat administered Athens. A great dramatic innovator, he wrote more than 120 plays, but only seven survive in full. Last week's remarkable finds also include work by Euripides, Hesiod and L ucian, plus a large and particularly significant paragraph of text from the Elegies, by Archilochos, a Greek poet of the 7th century BC.