Event: The Promise of "Virtual Unwrapping" - Reading the Invisible Library

Date & Time

January 14, 2020 - 7:00pm to 8:30pm
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Contact Information

Michelle Jacobson
Phone 310-825-4004


California NanoSystems Institute Auditorium

Event Type

50th Anniversary Lecture Series

Event Details

The UCLA/Getty Conservation Program presents “The man who can read the unreadable,” computer scientist and professor W. Brent Seales, the first speaker in the 50th Anniversary Lecture Series. Currently a Getty Conservation Institute Scholar, Seales and his team have been key to revealing texts on papyri that are too fragile to unroll, such as Homers “Iliad” and the Dead Sea Scrolls. The recipient of a $2 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Seales will discuss how technological progress over the past ten years has led to the promise of “virtual unwrapping” for reading the “invisible library” of scrolls found at Herculaneum; papyri that were buried and burned in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 70 CE.

Reservations requested. Click here to RSVP by January 8. For more information call 310-825-4004.

Friends of the Cotsen Institute are invited to a private reception with Dr. Seales at 6pm. To learn more about the Friends visit their page or contact Michelle Jacobson at mjacobson@ioa.ucla.edu.

Seales is Professor and Chairman of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Kentucky. His research applies data science and computer vision to challenges in the digital restoration and visualization of antiquities. In 2012-13, he was a Google Visiting Scientist in Paris, where he continued work on the “virtual unwrapping” of the Herculaneum scrolls. In 2015, Seales and his research team identified the oldest known Hebrew copy of the book of Leviticus (other than the Dead Sea Scrolls), carbon dated to the third century C.E. The reading of the text from within the damaged scroll has been hailed as one of the most significant discoveries in biblical archaeology of the past decade.