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Bridget Leach has worked at the Museum since 1990 where she specializes in the conservation of papyri. Conservation includes checking and preparing papyri for loans and displays, or for publication, where previously unknown texts can be presented. Work may involve removing old nineteenth century repairs which obscure the writing on a papyrus, or the complete reconstruction of a fragmentary manuscript.
Bridget has a special interest in the pigments used on illustrated papyri, particularly orpiment and realgar. She has conserved papyri for the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, the Petrie Museum at University College London and Queen’s College Oxford.
Bridget has also worked on site conserving fragments excavated by the Cambridge Theban Mission at Luxor, www.newton.ac.uk/egypt/tt99/index.html. (For a short video of on-site papyrus conservation, click on Dig Diaries, the year 2000 then 7th October.) She has also worked in Aswan conserving fragments found by the Egypt Exploration Society’s Mission to Qusr Ibrim in 2003 and in 2006 for the Spanish-Egyptian Mission to Dra Abu el Naga, www.excavacionegipto.com.
- Scanning and digitally ‘unrolling’ an intact papyrus roll in the collection to see what text it may contain but with minimal physical intervention (Department of Conservation and Scientific Research project in collaboration with the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan and University of Kentucky, ‘Digital unrolling of a papyrus’)
- Research into the preservation history of a group of papyri known as ‘The Ramesseum Papyri’, since they were excavated in Egypt in 1896. These ancient manuscripts, from approximately 1700 BC, form a unique private library and are now to be fully published through the international Ramesseum papyri project led by Richard Parkinson of the British Museum.
Honorary positions/ membership of professional bodies
- Accredited member of the Institute of Conservation (ICON)
- Appointed External Assessor for the Post-Graduate Diploma and MA Paper Conservation Courses at the University of the Arts London, Camberwell in 2006.
B. Leach, ‘A conservation history of the Ramesseum Papyri’, Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 92 forthcoming, 2007), pp. 1-16,
B. Leach, ‘Conservation of the Late Ramesside Papyri’ in R. Demaree, The Bankes Late Ramesside Papyri (London, the British Museum Press, 2006), pp. 29-31
B. Leach, ‘Mounting Papyri at the British Museum’ in Art on Paper: Mounting and Housing, ed. J. Rayner, J. Kosek and B. Christensen (London, Archetype Press, 2005), pp. 193-98
B. Leach, ‘The occurrence and alteration of realgar on Ancient Egyptian Papyri’, with V. Daniels, Studies in Conservation, 49, (2004), pp. 73-84
B. Leach, ‘Papyrus’ with J. Tait, in Ancient Egyptian Materials and Technology, I. Shaw and P. T. Nicholson (eds.) (Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 227-53