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Hidden text found in 1,000-year-old hymn book


Posted on Thursday, 15 March, 2018 | Comment icon 4 comments

The original text was overwritten. Image Credit: SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
Scientists have found the writings of a 2nd-century Greek physician hidden beneath pages of religious text.
At a quick glance, the archaic hymn book, which dates back to the 11th century, might not seem like anything particularly special, however hidden beneath its pages lies the treatise of one of the fathers of medical science - the Greek physician and philosopher Galen of Pergamon.

It was written in ancient Syriac around 1,400 years ago, most likely by someone at St. Catherine's Monastery in Egypt. (Galen himself was born in 129 AD and died in 210 AD. )

Around 500 years later however, the ink was scraped off the pages and overwritten with religious psalms - a common practice at the time due to the high price of parchment.

Researchers have spent several years attempting to decipher the original text using multispectral imaging and now, thanks to a team at SLAC's Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource, it looks as though success may be just around the corner.

Unlike previous studies that have used ultraviolet, visible, and infrared wavelengths to uncover the original text, this time researchers have been using high-energy X-rays.

If successful, the scans should help to expose tiny residues of ink left behind on the pages.

"The first initial results are incredibly mind-blowing," said classicist Peter Pormann from the University of Manchester. "Galen is the most important and most influential physician arguably of all time."

"This is basically our history, this is how medicine developed."

Source: Science Alert | Comments (4)

Tags: Galen

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Silver Surfer on 17 March, 2018, 12:32
Well... Can we please go to the Vaticans library get all the religious texts and apply the same technique so we can try to regain some of our real history, rather than the fearful baseless rantings of crazy zealots. 
Comment icon #2 Posted by Nzo on 17 March, 2018, 18:14
You don't believe in St. Constantine the pagan and his council of Nicea to have deciphered the true contents of the times of Christ?! BLASPHEMY!   I was SHOCKED I say SHOCKED when I was a child and they told me that Santa did not exist... SHOCKED!
Comment icon #3 Posted by Silver Surfer on 18 March, 2018, 13:46
Firm murmur of agreement.
Comment icon #4 Posted by paperdyer on 19 March, 2018, 17:51
Nzo - And I'm offended that you were shocked!  He does exist! How can you say he doesn't when there's one in every department store in the country after Thanksgiving! Seriously, I guess the reuse of the parchment can be the first recycling efforts.  Just like painting some shlock scene over a masterpiece.


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