Contest launched to decipher Herculaneum scrolls using 3D X-ray software

Global research teams who can improve AI and accelerate decoding could win $250,000 in prizes

The eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD79 laid waste to Pompeii and nearby Herculaneum where the intense blast of hot gas carbonised hundreds of ancient scrolls in the library of an enormous luxury villa.

Now, researchers are launching a global contest to read the charred papyri after demonstrating that an artificial intelligence programme can extract letters and symbols from high-resolution X-ray images of the fragile, unrolled documents.

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