Conservation Report: 066.8
Jessica M. Sisk
Two fragments of papyrus, 2 x 1.2 cm (Frag. I) and 2.1 x 1.3 cm (Frag. 2), mounted in plexiglass.
Frag. I, slightly smaller and more regular in size than its companion, appears to bear traces of discoloration (ink or faint remnants of surface scraps) on Side A. The weave of the papyrus is somewhat obscured by the latter. Side B certainly exhibits ink characters on a clean layer, but the characters (some of which seem serpentine) are indeterminate in size, position, and language. Written with the fibers on a slight diagonal seem to be an alpha and a beta, along with a serpentine letter (such as a nu of the 3rd/2nd BC), but this is not at all certain. The possibility of modern markings to enhance sales of such fragments is always possible. Subtle separation at the top end of Frag. I suggests two probable layers, although the slender depth of the fragment may indicate that the edges are simply tattered.
Frag. II, Side A, is rough in texture and appears to be a damaged layer, whether by forced separation or in combination with resulting surface scraps. Marks of ink or sediment seem to cling to this layer. Side Bís layer exhibits a clean weave and is free from ink characters or observable residue of any sort.
Warm humidification was attempted in order to determine the layering situation of Frag. I (via a clear glass vessel and inserted colander, see Figure 6). A couple of minutes of subjection to this treatment readily softened the fragment. Prying of the two possible layers was not undertaken given the miniature sample size and the highly likely danger of irreparable damage to an original layer.
The sample size is so small overall that although magnification reveals characters, it is excessively difficult to tell whether the letters are written against the weave or not. The size of the hand is also not apparent, so it is not clear whether there are tiny characters jumbled and misaligned (as in magical papyri) or whether the sample size preserves partial strokes that form larger letters.
1.† Fragments I and II together (view of sides A).
2. Fragment I, side A. There seems to be some scrapping with ink-like residue.
3. Fragment I, side B. Cleaner than Side A, with apparent ink characters.
4. Fragment II, side A. The damaged layer, with residue of ink or sediment, obscures the weave.
5. Fragment II, side B. A clean weave - free from markings and residues.
6. Fragment I during the humidification process.