Paleography: Menander & the Mummy

The kitchen-sized Institut de Papyrologie at Paris' ancient Sorbonne University is one of the oddities of modern science. In an era of high-budget research, the institute operates with a few dollars' worth of unimpressive equipment, but its growing contribution to man's knowledge of his ancient culture is yet to be assessed.

The lab owes its very existence, says Professor André Bataille, director of the institute, to the fact that during the 2nd and 3rd centuries B.C. wood was too expensive to be used in mummy cases for average Egyptians. As a result, funeral directors enclosed corpses in waste papyrus...

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