On 24 August 79 AD, the eruption of Mount Vesuvius destroyed the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, burying them under tons of volcanic ash. In Herculaneum, a luxurious villa owned by Julius Caesar's father-in-law housed the largest library from the classical world that has survived to the present day. Some 1,800 papyrus scrolls were discovered and their contents unfortunately remain a secret — every time researchers try to unroll them, they are destroyed.
The most remarkable find so far has been a third of "On Nature", the lost work of Epicurus. There are those, though, who are hopeful that, among the blackened papyri, classical works by Sophocles, Aeschylus or Euripides that never reached us could be found.
This is where we bring the story to an end, since the previously unknown content of these scrolls has begun to come to light thanks to technology and innovation. French and Italian scientists have managed to read fragments of these papyri using a variety of X-rays to avoid the risk of unrolling them, bringing forth a legacy of thought and culture that had been silenced for twenty centuries.
This is just one example of how clues about our culture can be snatched away from us over time or as a result of fatality and how, increasingly, technology can help us prevent this from happening. ACCIONA is stepping up to the challenge of preserving humanity's heritage with large-scale 3D printing. Here's how.