Wednesday, April 20, 2005

News That's Really Important

This story may have gotten ignored in the ruckus surrounding Pope Palpatine* and the slow-motion car wreck of Tom Delay's political career but the results of it will far outlive both:
For more than a century, it has caused excitement and frustration in equal measure - a collection of Greek and Roman writings so vast it could redraw the map of classical civilization. If only it was legible.

Now, in a breakthrough described as the classical equivalent of finding the holy grail, Oxford University scientists have employed infra-red technology to open up the hoard, known as the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, and with it the prospect that hundreds of lost Greek comedies, tragedies and epic poems will soon be revealed.

Just roll that last bit around in your head a moment. Classics literature thought last for the last 2000 years, rediscovered. As if that isn't enough to tweak your noggin, savvy this:

In the past four days alone, Oxford's classicists have used it to make a series of astonishing discoveries, including writing by Sophocles, Euripides, Hesiod and other literary giants of the ancient world, lost for millennia. They even believe they are likely to find lost Christian gospels, the originals of which were written around the time of the earliest books of the New Testament.

I'm a big fan of new knowledge. When that knowledge may make the superstitious squirm, all the better. This could shed new light on our collective cultural history and heritage, and allow us to better know where we came from and thus, better decide how to get where we want to go as a civilization. This transcends Popes and politics. This is all about the business of being Human.

(Link: SciAm Blog)


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