Apparatus for Unrolling the Herculanean Papyri, 1809

In papyri unrolling on June 20, 2011 at 6:09 am

from The Portfolio by Oliver Oldschool, Esq., December, 1809

“. . . from the effects of volcanic heat, [the papyri] are reduced to a perfect coal, liable to be crumbled into a black dust, by a very feeble pressure of the fingers, such as might be the state of a tight roll of paper after being exposed to the action of a heated oven, without being absolutely ingnited . . . “

“. . . the work is gently and progressively wound up by turning the pegs, until one entire page is thus unfolded. . . A draughtsman, unacquainted with the language of the manuscript, makes a faithful fac-simile of it . . . The taking of this copy is no less a work of extreme patience and nicety, as it is only by a particular reflection of light, that the characters, whose black color differs very little from that of the carbonized papyrus, can be distinguished. The fac-simile is next handed to an antiquarian, who separates the words and sentences, supplies any hiatus, and otherwise endeavours to restore the sense of the original.” — page 522.


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