I just finished reading a book on post-Roman Europe. And as someone who was taught more modern history, it was fascinating to see how much archeology of the last hundred years or so has transformed our historical understanding of the period (roughly 300 to 800 AD). But here’s an example of scientific examination generating new ‘facts’ for historians to understand and interpret — but from the much more recent past. The Library of Congress has just released the results of a study of the first draft of the Declaration of Independence which shows that Jefferson first used the monarchical “subjects” to refer to the American people before erasing it and replacing it with the republican “citizens”, which he used throughout.
Experts at the Library used hyperspectral imaging to find images of the revisions in the document.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.