Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Archaeology Update

Scientists meeting over the weekend at Oxford have urged an important piece of "rescue archaeology;" excavating the Villa of Papyri at Herculaneum before Vesuvius erupts again and possibly buries it too deeply to get at or otherwise destroys it. The prize? The possibility of finding lost works by Euripides, Aristotle, and perhaps the missing volumes of Livy's History of Rome.

It is not an easy decision. Some experts feel that buried books at Herculaneum should be left unexposed to daylight until we have the technology to preserve them for ever. Others say we should use current technology before they get buried even deeper by an eruption of Vesuvius, now overdue. One option is to tunnel into the lost library of the Villa of Papyri under the modern town of Ercolano which now lies on top of it. The balance of expert opinion seems to be that there is a chance of finding the library. The opportunity to unearth such priceless treasures is too good to ignore. We must know the past before we can understand the future.

Indeed. Let's hope the inspiration and funding are found for this important excavation.

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