The mysterious Voynich manuscript has finally been decoded | Ars Technica Since its discovery in 1969, the 15th century Voynich Manuscript has been a mystery and a cult phenomenon. Full of handwriting in an unknown language or code, the book is heavily illustrated with weird pictures of alien plants, naked women, strange objects, and zodiac symbols. Now, history researcher and television writer Nicholas Gibbs appears to have cracked the code, discovering that the book is actually a guide to women’s health that’s mostly plagiarized from other guides of the era.
New software tools have enabled scientists to read an ancient, damaged Hebrew scroll without ever unfurling the fragile, disintegrating parchment.
The digitization techniques, known as “volume cartography,” transformed what were the charred remains of the nearly 2,000-year-old En-Gedi scroll into legible columns of handwritten text from the book of Leviticus, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.
“We are reading a real scroll that hasn’t been read for millennia,” said Brent Seales, who helped develop the cartography techniques and is a computer sciences professor at the University of Kentucky in Lexington.
Tracking the lightning quick development of modern cities is easy with Google Street View, but the [Venice Time Machine] project aims to provide context for the past 1,000 years of urban evolution in Venice, Italy. The Venice Time Machine will digitize and catalog a staggering amount of historical documents—a combined 50 miles worth of shelves!—then turn the data into an internet archive and adaptable 3D model. READ MORE: How To Scan 50 Miles of Historical Documents Into an Online Archive | Gizmodo
The Purposeful Gaming and BHL project recently launched its first two browser-based video games, Smorball and Beanstalk. Both are designed to offer players a fun online diversion while helping the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) enable full-text searching of digitized materials. Funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), which was awarded in December 2013, the project is exploring how games might be used to entice people to participate in crowdsourcing efforts at libraries and museums. READ MORE: Biodiversity Heritage Library Launches Crowdsourcing Games | Library Journal
Millions of African Americans will soon be able to trace their families through the era of slavery, some to the countries from which their ancestors were snatched, thanks to a new and free online service that is digitizing a huge cache of federal records for the first time.
Handwritten records collecting information on newly freed slaves that were compiled just after the civil war will be available for easy searches through a new website, it was announced on Friday.
Digitizing the Vatican’s 40 million pages of library archives will take 50 experts, five scanners and many, many years before the process comes to a close.
The Vatican Library was founded in 1451 and has around 82,000 manuscripts, some of which date back about 1,800 years. It will work in tandem with NTT Data, a Japanese IT firm, to convert the first batch of 3,000 manuscripts. It is expected to take four years to digitize the initial round, though some of those documents will be online toward the end of 2014.
Quoteable: “This tremendous response is apposite for Tolstoy: not only of course is he one of the most beloved of the Russian greats, but he believed in the extraordinary possibilities of collective effort.”
Digitized books are available for download on the Tolstoy website. The website is in Russian for now, with an English version still under construction.
Quotable: “This title is old enough that by the time Macmillan decided to sell the ebook there very likely no digital copy available. The only way to get an ebook was to either type the book into a computer or scan an old paper copy.”
THE WORLD’S LARGEST AND most representative collection of Aboriginal artefacts will soon be accessible at the click of a mouse.
The South Australian Museum has undertaken a significant project to digitally photograph and database every object in its Aboriginal Material Culture collection, which is recognised as the world’s largest and most comprehensive.