Researchers have decoded ancient, fragile scrolls from the buried city of Herculaneum, preserved for nearly 2,000 years beneath Mount Vesuvius’ ashes. These scrolls, incredibly delicate, defied past attempts at opening. Using the “Vesuvius Challenge,” researchers employed advanced computer technology to reveal the first word, “πορφυρας,” signifying “purple” in Greek, marking the start of an exciting journey into the past. A $700,000 prize awaits those who can translate more of these scrolls, offering a significant step toward understanding ancient thought and life. This discovery is vital for comprehending the lives of people from ancient times who lived in a city now frozen in time by a devastating volcanic eruption.

These scrolls were charred by the volcano’s intense heat and were discovered in a structure linked to Julius Caesar’s father-in-law. They represent one of the few extensive ancient libraries known. Over time, attempts to open them led to fragmentation. However, with new technology, we can now read them. This discovery provides valuable insights into the culture, writing, and daily life of ancient societies, igniting our curiosity about history’s hidden treasures.