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AI Helped Determine the Location of Plato's Grave

25.04.2024
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https://www.cnr.it/it/nota-stampa/n-12655/lo-sguardo-tecnologico-legge-i-papiri-carbonizzati

Papyrologist Graziano Ranocchia of the University of Pisa, presenting the mid-term results of the research project "Greek Schools", carried out jointly with the national research council of the National Library of Naples, said that the exact location of Plato's burial in the academy in Athens follows from the Herculaneum papyri: it was in the garden reserved for him (on the territory of the Platonov Academy) next to the so-called Museion or sacred temple of the muses.

The Herculaneum papyri, discovered in the 18th century, contain more than 1,800 prehistoric scrolls. They were discovered in a luxurious villa, called the Villa of the Papyri, on a Roman estate in Herculaneum (Italy), where they lay for centuries under a layer of volcanic ash after the eruption of Vesuvius. The scrolls represent the only large-scale library from Antiquity that has been preserved in its entirety.

The charred scrolls were discovered in 1752 at a villa near the Bay of Naples believed to have once belonged to Julius Caesar's father-in-law, but their full contents remain a mystery because scientists found them too fragile to unroll.

Plato's Academy was the most famous school in ancient Athens, founded outside the city walls in the northwest of the city in 387 BC and existed in one form or another for several centuries.

The project is aimed not only at studying the state of preservation of these artifacts, but also at releasing an updated edition of Philodemus's On the Philosophers. Enhanced by visualization and philological analysis, this work includes a History of the Academy, which contains a wealth of unique information about Plato and the development of the Academy under his successors. The discovery is based on a thousand new or differently read words of the papyrus containing Philodemus of Gadar's History of the Academy. The increase in text size (30% larger than the previous 1991 edition) corresponds to the discovery of approximately 10 new medium-sized papyrus fragments.

The text also mentions that Plato was sold into slavery on the island of Aegina, possibly as early as 404 BC, when the Spartans conquered the island, or it was in 399 BC, immediately after the death of Socrates. Until now it was believed that Plato was sold into slavery in 387 BC. during his stay in Sicily at the court of Dionysius I of Syracuse.

In addition to new data about the life and burial place of Plato, scientists have clarified some ancient texts, the names of ancient Greek philosophers, historical facts, etc.

 

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