Livingstone letter deciphered at last

2010-07-02 13:51

The contents of a long-lost letter written by 19th century explorer

David Livingstone have been deciphered by a US-British team of academics and


The nearly 140-year-old missive was written by Livingstone as he

struggled against extreme conditions in the African village of Bambarre, in

present-day DRC.

With the famed explorer out of paper and low on ink, he tore pages

from books and wrote with a pigment improvised from the seeds of a local


In the letter to his future biographer Horace Waller, the usually

unflappable Scot despaired of ever making it home alive.

Birbeck College in London said today that bleeding ink, combined

with Livingstone’s chaotic handwriting, made the message indecipherable until it

was examined by imaging scientists.


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