David Livingstone's 140-Year-Old Diary Made Legible By Technology

Livingstone

First Posted: 01/11/11 21:54 Updated: 01/11/11 22:03   PA

A faded 140-year-old diary written by explorer David Livingstone has been made legible again with the help of modern technology.

Scientists used spectral imaging to recover the text of the diary entry, which gives an account of the massacre of 400 slaves in Africa.

Experts believe the text may change people's view of Livingstone.

The Scottish explorer penned the entry using ink made from berry seeds and wrote over the pages of a single copy of the London Standard.

The manuscript deteriorated rapidly in the African climate and today is virtually invisible to the naked eye.

However a team of scholars and scientists from the United States and the UK have used spectral imaging to recover the original text.

This involved illuminating the manuscript with successive wavelengths of light, starting with ultraviolet, working through the visible spectrum, and ending with infrared.

Processed digital images then enhanced the selected text.

Their findings were unveiled at the National Library of Scotland, which is home to many of Livingstone's papers including parts of his African diaries.

Dr Adrian Wisnicki, who led the project, anticipates that the publication of the 1871 diary will change the way we look at Livingstone.

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Filed by Paul Vale  |