About 70 texts in Stanford's collection of several hundred papyri were taken from storage and brought to the university's conservation lab in April. They were soaked in water to wash away the remains of an adhesive material applied to them for use as cartonnage—material molded into masks and panels to cover the mummified bodies of humans and animals. The texts were then mounted in thin glass frames, allowing for easy handling and close inspection. The ink, essentially a waterproof mixture of soot and resin, is faded but mostly legible.
The specimens are far from complete documents. Peeled from mummies by archaeologists and grave robbers, the once well-kept records now come with gaping holes. Many are fragments of larger pieces and offer a few hints about a transaction or contract. But there's not always enough to tell a complete story.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
New life given to ancient Egyptian texts stored at Stanford for decades