Degraded manuscripts and scrolls can now be read without being opened, using X-rays that are 100 billion times brighter than a standard laboratory X-ray tube. A team from Cardiff University have used the UK's new Diamond synchrotron research facility to examine fire-damaged parchment rolls written with iron gall ink. Iron gall ink corrodes readily and is a major cause of damage to manuscripts, leaving many too brittle to handle. The iron in the ink means that these manuscripts can be X-rayed successfully, however, and the Cardiff team has used a technique similar to CT (computed tomography) scanning to examine the many layers of a parchment roll individually without having to unroll it.
New technique can image closed books