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The organizers of the Vesuvius Challenge have announced the winners of the 2023 Grand Prize, which was awarded to a team of independent researchers that was best able to digitally unwrap one of the carbonized scrolls from the famous library at ancient Herculaneum that was destroyed by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79. The organizers of the Vesuvius Challenge imaged the scroll using a particle accelerator and released the CT scans of the scroll to the public. The winning team was able to reconstruct 15 columns of text and over 2000 characters in total. The scroll turned out to be an unknown ancient work of Epicurean philosophy, possibly written by Philodemus, the teacher of Virgil, as it mentions a man named Xenophantos, who is also mentioned by Philodemus in his work, On Music. The advances in technology spurred on by the Vesuvius Challenge will hopefully allow for further carbonized scrolls from Herculaneum and other sites to be digitally unwrapped and read. Perhaps new biblical manuscripts will soon follow.


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