What does a papyrus look like when it is found?

Papyrus documents that come out of the sand of Egypt are often in bad shape, such as the heap of papyri shown here. Having spent on average two-thousand years in the desert sand, many papyri are damaged by time, insects, or humidity.  They are often found in places that do not provide optimal conditions to preserve papyrus, such as tombs, rubbish heaps and even, occasionally, ancient mummy casings.


Papyrus fragments that have not yet been conserved or studied.


Papyrus rolls found in a hollow threshold of a door in Karanis, Egypt, in the 1920s.


Boxes used to transport papyri from Egypt to Ann Arbor in the 1920s and early 1930s.

How do you conserve a papyrus?