Repairing papyrus can be a little like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. In order to make sense of the many small pieces at hand, we take advantage of the various examination techniques we have here in the lab.
One method of examination we use is the use of transmitted light, which is light which passes through a transparent material from one side to the other. Transmitted light is very useful in understanding how a sheet of papyrus is made and therefore, how it fits back together.
Use of the microscope is another instrument which makes our work easier. Under magnification, and in combination with transmitted light, we can see clearly what we are doing and this makes our repairs and placing of loose fragments more precise. It’s important to make as few and as small repairs as possible in order to stabilize the piece so that as much as possible of the original papyrus is visible.