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Priceless rubbish (page 3 of 7)

The town dumps of ancient Oxyrhynchus remained intact right up to the late nineteenth century. They didn’t look exciting, just a series of mounds covered with drifting sand. But they offered ideal conditions for preservation. In this part of Egypt it never rains; perishables which are above the reach of ground water will survive. In the dumps was something which the famous sites of classical Greece and Italy could not preserve: papyrus, the ancient equivalent of paper.

[outlying rubbish tips]

The rubbish mounds of Oxyrhynchus

Papyrus meant two things: documents and books. On both scores, these Greeks on the Egyptian fringe could fill blanks in the record.

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