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Ancient Egyptian papyrus in the Book of the Dead Exhibition

Preparing pieces of papyrus ready for display in the exhibition Journey through the afterlife: ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead. © Trustees of the British Museum. Created by British Museum.

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Video transcript

This is a papyrus Book of the Dead which will be on display in the exhibition Journey through the Afterlife: Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead Before it goes on display the old Victorian paper backing needs to be removed So Bridget places the papyrus in fume hood and applies strips of paper to protect the front the papyrus is face down and wetted on the table With tracing paper mapping the delicate areas of the papyrus at hand both conservators peel off the top backings the last backing needs to be picked off with tweezers The back of the paper coming off is brown because it was previously painted to blend in with the papyrus Whilst the conservators continue to take off the backing they ensure the papyrus is moist by spraying water on it Picking off the backing took over two hours so to save you time we sped up the process Once the old backing is removed, a fine high quality lining is put on to support it The newly lined papyrus is dried between blotting paper under glass and weights and lies there for several weeks When Helen and Briget are confident the newly lined papyrus has dried they removed the facing that was put on to provide temporary protection Once this is done they examined the result and are pleased with the new lining on the papyrus they will soon get going with the rest of the conservation work that is needed on the papyri featuring in the next major exhibition