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CT scanners used to look inside Mesopotamian clay balls

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Archaeologists are employing the use of CT scanners and 3D modellers to look inside Mesopotamian clay balls dating back 5,500 years.

The clay balls may represent the world’s “very first data storage system,” at least the first that scientists know of, said Christopher Woods, a professor at the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute, in a lecture at Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum, where he presented initial findings.

The balls, often called “envelopes” by researchers, were sealed and contain tokens in a variety of geometric shapes — the balls varying from golf ball-size to baseball-size. Only about 150 intact examples survive worldwide today.

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Story: Owen Jarus, LiveScience | Photo: Anna Ressman/Courtesy Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago

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