The Vesuvius Challenge is a project that aims to recover a collection of 2,000-year-old scrolls known as the Herculaneum Papyri. This collection is considered the most extensive surviving library from the Greco-Roman world.
The project is starting again this year, with a new grand prize of $100,000, and it has received support from the Musk Foundation, as announced by Elon Musk on February 7, 2024. Elon Musk’s involvement in the project may come as a surprise to some, but it aligns with his interests.
Individuals such as Youssef Nader, Julian Schilliger, and Luke Farritor are using artificial intelligence (AI) to decipher the ancient texts. Additionally, Karl Weber and his team have excavated some of the Herculaneum Papyri scrolls from the Villa of the Papyri, which were discovered in an Italian countryside villa buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, the same eruption that affected Pompeii.
To date, 800 Herculaneum Papyri scrolls have been recovered from the villa, but historians believe there could be thousands or tens of thousands more.