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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Revealing the contents of 'Magna Carta' which has charred 283 years ago

One of the original manuscript of the Magna Carta was finally able to read again, after 283 years in charred condition and damaged by fire in London, England.

Magna Carta - Latin means 'Great Charter' released in the UK on June 15, 1215 in the reign of King John. The rules limit the power of the British monarchy which previously was absolute. Now, the document is considered a first step toward constitutional law, not just a reduction in the power of the king or queen.
Using ultraviolet light, British Library scientists were able to photograph the text of the 1215 Burnt Magna Carta that is invisible to the human eye. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/1vYQtcH)
There are four original copies of documents that were made at that time. One of them, the manuscript which kept in the British Library destroyed by burning in a fire incident in 1731.

Now, researchers are using a technique called multispectral imaging, managed to decipher the text of "Burnt Magna Carta" without touching or causing further damage to the valuable documents. This method allows scientists to conserve by taking images that virtually ignores the damage and show the parchment details and text on its surface.

"The document is badly damaged, we simply could not read it with the naked eye," said Christina Duffy, an imaging scientist at the British Library as quoted by LiveScience, on Monday, October 13, 2014. However, with these techniques, "very surprising because the text can be restored. "

The imaging is part of the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta ratification, when King John put the royal seal on the document, and vowed to stick with it. British Library save two copies of the Magna Carta, one of them in charred condition. The other two are stored in Lincoln Cathedral and Salisbury Cathedral.

On February 3, 2015, four copies will be exhibited side by side in the British Library, London, for the first time in history. The public may enter the lottery for free tickets to see the exhibition, which is only available for the 1,215 winners.

The burnt Magna Carta was never studied for decades. In 1970, the charred document was stored in special frame with a specific security. British Library team has no intention of restoring the charred documents. The object will be preserved as it is.

"There are different ways to fix it. However, most of the wet process, certain areas should be wet. We did not want to make the charter so moist," said Duffy.

Thus, scientists are using multispectral imaging, which essentially photographing the burned parchment with a series of LED light, which covers the spectrum of ultraviolet to infrared - beyond the range of human vision.

"Although some of the images produced basically the same, but each one giving different information," said Duffy further.

That way, the text is invisible to the naked eye suddenly appeared. Essentially identical to the text of three other copies which signed by the King of England in 1215. The team is still processing the multispectral image and will do the same process in other old documents related to the Magna Carta. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | LIVESCIENCE]
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