In this way, researchers can reconstruct writing that has been erased and written over, scratched out, singed or even damaged by water, Heyworth told LiveScience. For example, last year, the Lazarus Project used this technology to discover five new poems from the writer William Faulkner from a collection that had been damaged by fire.
This spring, Heyworth took a group of undergraduates to the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., to investigate a scrawl that believe to be the Bard's. The team hasn't yet begun the process of authenticating the signature as Shakespeare's, but they did reconstruct it.
"We have a clear idea now of what the signature looks like, and we can compare it to Shakespeare's signatures and forgers' signatures," Heyworth said.
The group is currently deciphering a line above the signature, which is written in a 16th-century hand based on the style of the lettering, Heyworth said. That line is written in different ink than the signature. [History's Most Overlooked Mysteries]