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Eva: So the thing is, you aren’t getting on with our new boss then, Colin?
Colin: She’s just so different from her predecessor. I mean, John used to get us all involved in the decision-making process .
Eva: No chance of that with Sandra, you think?
Colin: No way! OK, I grant you, she’s got some good ideas – she moved pretty fast to get us all to agree to individual job descriptions and a proper timetable, none of which we’ve had before and we should have had. And she’s done her homework on the staff profile, our qualifications and past experience and so on…
Eva: As you’d expect.
Colin: Yes. But she doesn’t seem aware of the atmosphere here – it’s the way we’ve always done things. I just don’t feel I can work with her.
Eva: I’d say she’s just finding her feet in a new job, and she’ll soon get the hang of what we’re all about. Let’s focus on how much she’s already achieved . I wouldn’t let anybody tell you it’s a trivial issue, though. If she doesn’t settle in soon, and you still have issues with her, I think you should approach her direct.
Colin: OK, thanks, Eva.
Interviewer: Show me how you do it. I see you’ve got trays and trays of pieces here.
Expert: Yes, you have to find the bits that match, so I’ve put all these tiny pieces into colour groups – red here, blue over there. It’s a bit like doing a jigsaw, really. But at least there are no stains to remove. All we have to be aware of is the enamel on the surface; that we have to lift all the dirt and grease off. If you don’t, the pieces won’t go back together again, it’ll fall apart . If the cracks are going to show, they’ve got to be really clean, otherwise they’ll look messy.
Interviewer: You want the cracks to show? Some people would say that’s terrible, for such a valuable vase.
Expert: Well, yes, they probably would, but something that’s broken so extensively as this, if you cover all the cracks up you’re really making a fake. Being broken is something that’s happened to it in its lifetime, which should be recorded , and as long as you can restore it so that aesthetically it still works, it shouldn’t matter that the cracks show…
Woman: This is such an unusual place because there’s no public transport to the island – I came here in your fishing boat. The result is a paradise – rich marine life, unspoilt countryside. Yet you want to let the world in – you’ve campaigned to start up a ferry service from the mainland. Why?
Man: There isn’t enough work to support our population. If visitors come to the island – and we have a lot to offer them – catering for them would create employment . Also our young people would be able to commute to jobs on the mainland.
Woman: Don’t you think it’s risky ? These beaches could be covered with holiday houses and hotels; your visitors will complain because there are only a few shops. And a ferry service won’t be enough. People will want to fly here, and you’ll have to build an airport. No more paradise!
Man: We can build a small airport without impacting on our quality of life  here, and it makes economic sense. Our shops can cope with more people on the island – it’ll be seasonal anyway. And why would we build on the beaches? It’d be crazy.
Woman: I hope you’re right.
Narrator: At the time of the Roman Empire in Europe, around 2,000 years ago, it was common for information to be written, not on paper, but on things called ‘tablets’. These were pieces of wood about the size and thickness of a typical modern envelope .
Hundreds of such tablets have been unearthed from archaeological sites throughout Europe and the Mediterranean world – nearly 200 were found in one Roman fort alone  – and like most of these discoveries, they have been placed in public collections, mainly in museums in northern Europe, to be viewed but not, unfortunately, to be read.
This is because, although in some cases traces of writing can still be seen, most are now illegible to the naked eye. But that’s all soon to change because archaeologists hope that with the help of new technology, their secrets may soon be revealed. Many of the tablets took the form of legal documents and letters written by Roman soldiers . An example, now at the British Museum, bears the name of the person who wrote it and the name of the person who received it, plus the word ‘transportation’ , which you can just make out, but the rest remains a mystery. Now, with the help of computer techniques, experts hope eventually to be able to read the whole letter. Professor Mike Brady, a leading figure in what’s known as ‘computer vision’ for many years, admits that this is the hardest project he’s ever worked on . But the excitement of seeing the latest ideas in computing applied to such a very ancient problem has the archaeological community buzzing.
So, in simple terms, why has the writing been preserved and how will it be possible to ‘undo’ the ageing process? Well, the tablets were made with thin, hollow panels cut across them. Wax was poured into these  and the text was then written into this soft surface using an instrument with a fine metal point. In virtually all cases, the wax has perished and all that can be detected on the surface of the tablet underneath are scratches. These are too faint to be read, because they are distorted.
For some time, scientists have attempted to study them with laser photography, but this has proved fruitless . However, it is now hoped that by enhancing images of the tablets on computer, their original messages will become legible again. If this is the case, a whole new source of historical information will be opened up, and this promises advances and new knowledge for many decades to come. The new technology has already been used on texts in ink as well , and in the future, it will be applied to damaged surfaces of many kinds.
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