The new technique is called X-ray phase contrast tomography and scientists have been using it to distinguish the ink on the ancient papyrus, which was invisible to the naked eye.
This new method allowed the researchers to read several Greek letters that were inside the scroll. These paper scrolls were unearthed from an ancient villa known as Herculaneum, an ancient Roman city that was burned down completely when the volcano erupted in the year 79 A.D.
Thousands of people died because of the eruption and entire cities were covered in ash and lava.
Vito Mocella, the author of the new scientific study and a scientist at the Institute of Microelectronics and Microsystems in Naples, Italy, talked about the ancient paper scrolls saying that they were all covered in volcanic material which charred them completely.
Mocella explained that the previous X-ray methods used to decipher these ancient documents were not successful due to the fact that those who wrote them used a special ink that involved smoke and was based on carbon.
Because the papyri had been damaged by the volcano lava, it made it almost impossible for the scientists to distinguish the ink from the paper the text was written on.
Mocella and his team of scientists were able to decipher some of the handwritten words on the paper scrolls and compare it to the other known texts.
It appears that the authors of one of the papyrus scrolls was Philodemus, an ancient philosopher and poet, who died almost a century before Mount Vesuvius erupted.
Six other papyrus scroll deciphered by the scientists belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte and apparently they were given to him as gifts.
The new study, which was published in the journal Nature Communication, could be an important breakthrough, allowing the researchers to unravel the secret writings of ancient times. This might shed new light on the earliest forms of Greek philosophy and literature.
Some of the ancient papyrus scrolls are displayed at the Naples National Library.
Image Source: independent.co.uk