The Egyptians wrote on a material called papyrus, made from a reed-like plant of the same name. Our most important papyrus is the Book of the Dead of Ramose. Much of this spectacular document has lain in thousands of fragments in sixty paper folders since it came to the Museum in 1922. Some fragments were stuck together in the past with bits of tape and paper labels. A detail of a finely observed falcon is shown above, together with the contents of one of the folders.
The papyrus is now being conserved and the study of the painting materials is in progress. Some of the latter, such as the orange-red mineral realgar, are very light sensitive, so the papyrus will not be put on display in the permanent galleries. Instead it will be available in digital form on the Museum’s website and also in special exhibitions. The first of which will take place during the summer of 2007.