Tuesday, January 30, 2018

More on reading the papyri in mummy masks without destroying them

TECHNOLOGY WATCH: We’re One Step Closer to Non-Invasively Reading Ancient Papyri Hidden in Mummy Masks. Researchers at the University College of London are working to find a way to read the ancient scraps without destroying the artifacts in the process (Brigit Katz, The Smithsonian). I noted this story earlier, but this article gives more detail, or perhaps updated information. The earlier article covered the analysis of the coffin lid, but not the tests on simulated cartonnage or the test of the fragment of an actual mummy mask.
It’s important to note that with all three methods, researchers were only able to determine the presence of different inks within the dense cartonnage; they could not glean enough information to read the texts. Their study is just the first step in what will surely be a long trajectory of research—but it is a significant first step.
Bit by bit, a letter at a time, whatever it takes. Until we're done.

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