Synchrotron radiation and x-rays in general are used as tools in history research. In particular, they can “read” ancient manuscripts without opening them, thus accelerating the time for digitalization and minimizing the risks of damage. This “Virtual Reading” technique was developed by an international team led by the EPFL, under the guidance of Fauzia Albertin.
Here are some examples:
Below: two results of Virtual Reading. Top: comparison of a visible picture (left) with an x-ray image. Bottom: similar comparison for the sealed 1351 testament of the Venice dame Catharucia (Catherine) Savonario. One can read in the top-right picture the first words of the testament: “In nome a Dio” (“In the name of God”)