History | August 29, 2017 5:00 am

Lost Language Discovered at Egyptian Monastery

The language was found in ancient works not seen since the Dark Ages.

St Catherine's Monastery
Africa, Egypt, St Catherine's Monastery. (Photo by: JTB Photo /UIG via Getty Images)

Researchers have found ancient works not read by humans since the Dark Ages at Saint Catherine’s monastery on the Sinai peninsula. They used a technique that reconstructs documents that were scrubbed off parchment.

According to The Times of Londonthey believe this method could reveal many other lost texts. Among the discovery are texts previously unknown to scholars, and there are even some of the earliest copies of Hippocrates. The researchers also discovered extremely rare languages — like Caucasian Albanian — that have only been seen on scattered stone inscriptions.

Historically, it was common to reuse parchment because it was valuable. Many ancient texts were believed to be lost when monks wrote copies of the Bible on top of them.

The scientists have discovered a method to read what was previously on the parchment. They use photographs taken using different parts of the light spectrum and from different angles, writes the Times. This highlights the traces of ink left by even the earliest scribes because it was washed off. The images are then combined using a computer algorithm, which reveals the text underneath.

The library at the monastery has been in continuous use for 1,500 years, however, The Times writes that it is now “threatened by growing Islamic fundamentalism and attacks on Christians in the region.” ISIS claimed responsibility for gun battle between militants and security forces earlier this year