The Vesuvius Challenge is offering a $1million prize to the first team to "Read at least 4 separate passages of continuous and plausible text from the scrolls, each at least 140 characters long". So if your submission is four consecutive tweets from Stephen Fry - even if in Latin - you are not going to win. But that's a big prize for a big ask; so there is a letter prize of $40K if you decipher 10 characters on a fragment at least 4cm² in extent. Plausibility rules apply here too. It will be a software solution where the algorithm calls out enhance! . . . enhance! . . . until there is no contrast left to work on - all that's left is grey e-soup. The two large$t sponsors of the prize are a) tECHbRO JosephJacks who is gate-keeping his LinkedIn account with a dorky bot-cancelling task which took this dull-human 3 attempts to crack. b) Alex Gerko was-a-Russian British currency trader.
It is clear from the frags shown [L] that some parts of some scrolls have been tweezered loose but far more data has been >!poof!<ed to dust by earnest / arrogant employers of prior art in the field. It's like the 17thC antiquarians who dug holes in long-barrows in search of treasure and thereby destroyed forever and all time the archaeological context and stratigraphy which allows sense to be made of the artifacts. To archaeologists, a set of carbonized post-holes and some pot-sherds is more valuable than Sr Narciandi's golden torc from a week ago.
The smart money at the moment is non-destructive X-ray tomography which can non solum tease out the layers of each roll, sed etiam separate the ink from the matrix . . . and read it.
My MeFi pals discussed the challenge in March and proved less interested in the scrolls' literary potential [altho there was one vote for new poems by Sappho] and more in material that would yield insight into the daily lives of ordinary folk at the zenith of the Roman Empire - bring on the shopping lists, like.