Sunday’s Independent has three pieces on the recent application of technological advances to ancient manuscripts, which are making readable previously illegible manuscripts. According to the paper, “infra-red technology has enabled hundreds of ancient Greek comedies, tragedies and epic poems, composed by classical greats such as Sophocles, Euripides and Hesiod, to be deciphered for the first time in 2,000 years.”
Also thought to be contained in the Oxyrhynchus Papyri are early copies of Christian texts, possibly including gospel accounts. Examples of the classical texts discovered are the only surviving lines from Epigonoi (“The Progeny”), a tale of the siege of Thebes by by Sophocles (495-405 BC):
Speaker A: . . . gobbling the whole, sharpening the flashing iron.
Speaker B: And the helmets are shaking their purple-dyed crests, and for the wearers of breast-plates the weavers are striking up the wise shuttle’s songs, that wakes up those who are asleep.
Speaker A: And he is gluing together the chariot’s rail.