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Egypt

Sinai Spectral: High-Tech In Ancient Library Reveals Layers Of History

Egypt's St. Catherine's Monastery holds a treasure trove of ancient texts. But spectral imaging technology shows there's even more there than meets the eye.

Processing spectral data on a palimpsest
Processing spectral data on a palimpsest
Jenna Le Bras

SAINT CATHERINE —From the shrine bathed in early morning light, Father Justin lets his eyes linger on the arid peaks of South Sinai with contentment. "Can you see the sentry box at the top of the mountain?" he asks. "There is always someone guarding over there. It's important to protect this place, but first and foremost to show that it is protected."

Father Justin, a monk from the Unites States, is a very old man — long and narrow, and dressed in a dusty black gown and small toque. With his white beard covering his chest and his slender fingers crossed on his paunch, he flutters through the corridors of the priory, as he has for 21 years. He knows by heart how to move around this small shell in the desert — the village of ancient stones surrounded by a rampart, the lane of dorms for special guests, the garden with olive trees, the perched walkways that flow from one building to another and revolve around two centers: the Transfiguration Church and the Chapel of the Burning bush.

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High school graduates from Chernihiv are dancing before the destroyed Hotel Ukraine.

Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Halo!*

Welcome to Friday, where Kyiv gets EU candidate status in Brussels, while Ukrainian forces retreat from Severodonetsk, there’s good and bad news in the U.S. for gun control advocates, and scientists discover one big bacterium. Meanwhile, Persian-language news website Kayhan-London looks at the reasons behind the harsher tone the West has adopted toward Iran in recent weeks.

[*Sundanese, Indonesia]

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