Papyrus reveals Plato's burial site

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Recent archaeological research has led to a significant discovery regarding the burial site of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. Utilizing advanced imaging and AI technologies, researchers have deciphered carbonized papyrus scrolls from Herculaneum, pinpointing Plato's final resting place within the grounds of the Platonic Academy in Athens.

Discovery Details

The scrolls, which were preserved under layers of ash from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, have been studied extensively under the "GreekSchools" project led by Graziano Ranocchia, a papyrologist from the University of Pisa. This project, in collaboration with the National Research Council and other institutions, aims to provide a more comprehensive understanding of ancient texts through modern technological methods.

Plato's Burial Site

The newly revealed texts indicate that Plato was buried in a private garden at the Platonic Academy, close to a sacred area dedicated to the Muses, known as the Museion or sacellum. This location is more specific than previously known, as it was only understood before that Plato was buried somewhere within the Academy's grounds.

Additional Historical Insights

The papyrus also sheds light on a tumultuous period in Plato's life, suggesting that he was sold into slavery around 404 BC to 399 BC following the Spartan conquest of the island of Aegina. This is a shift from earlier beliefs that his enslavement occurred in 387 BC in Sicily.

Technological Advances in Archaeology

The breakthroughs in deciphering the papyri were made possible through the use of infrared, ultraviolet optical imaging, thermal imaging, tomography, and digital optical microscopy. These techniques allowed researchers to read about 30% of the text, revealing new details about Plato's life and the academic environment of his time.

Future Research Directions

The ongoing research project is expected to continue until 2026, with hopes of uncovering further details about Plato's philosophies and the historical context of the Academy. This discovery not only provides a clearer picture of Plato's final resting place but also contributes to a deeper understanding of the intellectual legacy of ancient Greece. This finding marks a milestone in historical and archaeological research, offering new insights into the life of one of history's most influential philosophers and the academic setting he fostered.
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