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New Research Reveals the Presence of Copper in Ink from Ancient Egyptian Papyri

Scripts that were used by our ancestors have always been a matter of research. Until now, it was thought that the ink used for writing was primarily carbon-based. This view about the writing was by at least until the 4th and 5th centuries AD. But a new study is done using 2,000-year-old papyri fragments with X-ray microscopy has given some other interesting information.It revealed that the ink that was used by Egyptian scribes also contained copper fragments that have not been identified in ancient ink prior to this discovery.

The investigation of the papyri fragments could be made possible with the help of advanced synchrotron radiation based X-ray microscopy equipment. During the research it was found that there were variations within a single papyrus fragment. It reflected that the composition of ink produced at the same location could be different to others. Due to these variations it became impossible to produce maps of ink signatures that would have otherwise been used to know the exact date and place and help understanding the papyri fragments and its origin closely.

As per the researchers, the results will also be beneficial for conservation purposes of the rare scripts. It is because the detailed knowledge about the material's composition can help museums make the right decisions regarding conserving and storing of papyri in a better way. It will ensure their preservation for a longer period.


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