The erased text is being rediscovered using multispectral imaging, which captures information not visible to the naked eye. The technique works by photographing the manuscript with different combinations of light: using wavelengths from ultraviolet through infrared, including various colour filters, and illuminating each page from below. The diverse information captured in these multiple shots is then mathematically combined by image-processing specialists to provide greater clarity.
A large portion of the text that was found underneath the Syriac writing constitutes one of the world’s most significant records of a dialect of Aramaic close to the one that Jesus would have spoken. Most of this undertext consists of translations of portions of the Old and New Testaments. The superior imaging techniques are enabling Tyndale House researcher Dr Kim Phillips to recover, for the first time, several pericopes of these translations hitherto unattested in this dialect of Aramaic, and to continue to refine our grammatical knowledge of this dialect.