“Classical holy grail” junk

For the past few days talk has been going fast and furious about an article in The Independent about a new way of translating the Oxyrhynchus Papyri.

Now, in a breakthrough described as the classical equivalent of finding the holy grail, Oxford University scientists have employed infra-red technology to open up the hoard, known as the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, and with it the prospect that hundreds of lost Greek comedies, tragedies and epic poems will soon be revealed.

In the past four days alone, Oxford’s classicists have used it to make a series of astonishing discoveries, including writing by Sophocles, Euripides, Hesiod and other literary giants of the ancient world, lost for millennia. They even believe they are likely to find lost Christian gospels, the originals of which were written around the time of the earliest books of the New Testament.

It sounds amazing!

Unfortunately, it appears something not quite right is going on. Hannibal, of ArsTechnica, speaking from what appears to be a somewhat authritative position lays out some compelling reasons to doubt the claims made in The Independent, or at least reasons to not think the story is so amazing.

Hopefully we get some more concrete information in the weeks to come.

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