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To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

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  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Small fragment of papyrus inscribed in black ink on one side with part of a Coptic text.

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 6thC-7thC
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 4.3 centimetres
    • Width: 6.2 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Position

      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Comment

        Parts of four lines from a letter.
  • Condition

    fair (incomplete)

  • Conservation

    See treatments 

    Treatment date

    20 February 2013

    Reason for treatment


    Treatment proposal

    Remove from unsuitable frames. Repair and remount between glass.


    The fragment is mounted between Perspex® and held in place with modern stamp hinges on the verso. The frame is of inconvenient size (very small), unsuitable for handling and conservation. The poor quality wood frame is bound in Kraft paper tape. The papyrus fragment is mounted on brown, short-fibred card: the verso of the papyrus fragment is therefore non-visible.

    The papyrus fragment is brittle, fractured and weakened by the Perspex electrostaticity. There are several turnovers and twisted fibres. The fragment may contain writing on the verso, hidden by the backing card.

    Treatment details

    Documentation consisting in photographs at different stages of the treatment (before, during and after) and tracing of the fragment outline was undertaken. Observation under Mantis microscope (x10) was done several times through the treatment to check the state of the fragment. Documentation about collection history was researched and gathered.

    The inks were tested for solubility in water and in water and IMS (50-50). Lightly soluble in water, but less in 50-50 water-IMS.

    The fragment was then removed mechanically from its frame and backing, using scalpel and micro-spatula. The stamp hinges were removed after light damping using water to dissolve the water-sensitive adhesive. The residual adhesives were cleaned using slightly moist cotton swabs.

    The surface of the papyrus fragment was then cleaned with a soft brush. The fragment was humidified over damp blotters and Gore-Tex in a chamber until it could be realigned and repaired using pre-toned Japanese paper tabs and wheat starch paste. Twisted fibres and turnovers were laid down and pressed dry. The fragment has then been pressed dry under lightest weights.

    Remounted between glass sealed with Filmoplast® tape and buffered with Micro-chambers paper strips along the edges.

    About these records 

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Ancient Egypt & Sudan

  • BM/Big number


  • Registration number


After conservation Recto (Feb 2013)

After conservation Recto (Feb 2013)

Image description



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Object reference number: YCA72106

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