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Concept: Papyrus


For the first time it is shown that carbon black inks on ancient Egyptian papyri from different time periods and geographical regions contain copper. The inks have been investigated using synchrotron-based micro X-ray fluorescence (XRF) and micro X-ray absorption near-edge structure spectroscopy (XANES) at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF). The composition of the copper-containing carbon inks showed no significant differences that could be related to time periods or the geographical locations. This renders it probable that the same technology for ink production was used throughout Egypt for a period spanning at least 300 years. It is argued that the black pigment material (soot) for these inks was obtained as by-products of technical metallurgy. The copper (Cu) can be correlated with the following three main components: cuprite (Cu2O), azurite (Cu3[CO3]2[OH]2) and malachite (Cu2CO3[OH]2).

Concepts: X-ray, Light, Carbon, Copper, Pigment, Ancient Egypt, Carbon black, Papyrus


Writing on paper is essential to civilization, as Pliny the Elder remarks in his Natural History, when he describes the various types of papyri, the method of manufacturing them, and all that concerns writing materials in the mid-first century AD. For this reason, a rigorous scientific study of writing is of fundamental importance for the historical understanding of ancient societies. We show that metallic ink was used several centuries earlier than previously thought. In particular, we found strong evidence that lead was intentionally used in the ink of Herculaneum papyri and discuss the possible existence of ruled lines traced on the papyrus texture. In addition, the metallic concentrations found in these fragments deliver important information in view of optimizing future computed tomography (CT) experiments on still-unrolled Herculaneum scrolls to improve the readability of texts in the only surviving ancient Greco-Roman library.

Concepts: Science, Writing, Paper, Ancient Egypt, Codex, Papyrus, Pliny the Elder, Writing material


In 2015, a national Egyptian health issue survey (EHIS) was conducted to describe the prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. In this paper, we describe the HCV burden in 2015, compare the results with the national survey conducted in 2008, and discuss the implications of the new findings on prevention of HCV in Egypt.

Concepts: Hepatitis, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis C virus, Egypt, Papyrus


For the first time, a paper-based fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) determination with cyclic AMP (cAMP)-specific phosphodiesterase 4B (PDE4B) inhibitory assay using an inkjet-printing technique is proposed. Non-fabricated parchment paper is found to constitute a unique substrate to measure fluorescent energy transfer, due to its insignificant self-absorption, and enables efficient sample interaction. Here, we report the responsive FRET signals generated on paper, upon sequentially printing reaction components on parchment paper using a conventional inkjet printer equipped with four cartridges. After printing, the energy emitted by Eu chelate was transferred by FRET to ULight molecule on paper, detected at 665 nm. In the absence of free cAMP, a maximum FRET signal was achieved on paper, while a decrease in FRET signals was recorded when free cAMP produced by PDE4B inhibitors compete with Eu-cAMP, binding with ULight-mAb. The IM50 value was determined as 2.46 × 10-13 mole for roliparm and 1.86 × 10-13 mole for roflumilast, to effectively inhibit PDE4B activity. Inkjet printing-based FRET signal determination utilizes components that are less than the femtomole range, which was four-orders less than the standard assay method. The methodology reported here constitutes an innovative approach towards the determination of FRET signals generated on paper.

Concepts: Fluorescence, Printing, Inkjet printer, Förster resonance energy transfer, Book, Printer, Papyrus, Wax paper


Ancient papyri are a written heritage of culture that flourished more than 3000 years ago in Egypt. One of the most significant collections in the world is housed in the Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection in Berlin, from where the samples for our investigation come. The papyrologists, curators and conservators of such collections search intensely for the analytical detail that would allow ancient papyri to be distinguished from modern fabrications, in order to detect possible forgeries, assess papyrus deterioration state, and improve the design of storage conditions and conservation methods. This has become the aim of our investigation. The samples were studied by a number of methods, including spectroscopic (FTIR, fluorescent-FS, Raman) diffractional (XRD) and chromatographic (size exclusion chromatography-SEC), selected in order to determine degradation parameters: overall oxidation of lignocellulosic material, degree of polymerization and crystallinity of cellulose. The results were correlated with those obtained from carefully selected model samples including modern papyri and paper of different composition aged at elevated temperature in humid air. The methods were classified in the order SEC > FS > FTIR > XRD, based on their effectiveness in discriminating the state of papyri degradation. However, the most trustworthy evaluation of the age of papyri samples should rely on several methods.

Concepts: Chromatography, Humidity, Paper, Ancient Egypt, Cairo, Egyptian language, Papyrus, University of Michigan Papyrus Collection


Records about the traditional uses of medicinal plants can be considered useful in bioprospecting (i.e., the search for new active agents or lead structures in nature). Several sources like Egyptian papyri, early modern herbals and pharmacopoeias have been studied in this respect. It is proposed to use recordings of botanically interested explorers of the 19th and early 20th centuries as well. Some of them give detailed information about traditionally used medicinal plants and analysis shows that a considerable number of these have never been scientifically investigated. Existing studies, however, are confirming the traditional uses described to a great extent. Thus, the explorer’s writings should not be neglected while looking for starting points for plant screening; success seems more likely than with screening at random.

Concepts: Plant, Science, Botany, 20th century, Modern history, Age of Discovery, Early modern Europe, Papyrus


Culturing cells at the air-liquid interface (ALI) is essential for creating functional in vitro models of lung tissues. We present the use of direct-patterned laser-treated hydrophobic paper as an effective semi-permeable membrane, ideal for ALI cell culture. The surface properties of the paper are modified through a selective CO2 laser-assisted treatment to create a unique porous substrate with hydrophilic regions that regulate fluid diffusion and cell attachment. To select the appropriate model, four promising hydrophobic films were compared with each other in terms of gas permeability and long-term strength in an aqueous environment (wet-strength). Among the investigated substrates, parchment paper showed the fastest rate of oxygen permeability (3 times more than conventional transwell cell culture membranes), with the least variation in its dry and wet tensile strengths (124 MPa and 58 MPa, remaining unchanged after 7 days of submersion in PBS).The final paper-based platform provides an ideal, robust, and inexpensive device for generating monolayers of lung epithelial cells on-chip in a high-throughput fashion for disease modelling and in vitro drug testing.

Concepts: Enzyme, Lung, Cell membrane, Respiratory system, Model, Tensile strength, Book, Papyrus


Ziziphus spina-christi (L.) Desf. (Christ’s Thorn Jujube) is a wild tree today found in Jordan, Israel, Egypt, and some parts of Africa, which was already in use as a medicinal plant in Ancient Egypt. In ancient Egyptian prescriptions, it was used in remedies against swellings, pain, and heat, and thus should have anti-inflammatory effects. Nowadays, Z. spina-christi, is used in Egypt (by Bedouins, and Nubians), the Arabian Peninsula, Jordan, Iraq, and Morocco against a wide range of illnesses, most of them associated with inflammation. Pharmacological research undertaken to date suggests that it possesses anti-inflammatory, hypoglycemic, hypotensive and anti-microbial effects. The transcription factor NF-κB (nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells) is critical in inflammation, proliferation and involved in various types of cancer. Identification of new anti-inflammatory compounds might be an effective strategy to target inflammatory disorders and cancer. Therefore, extracts from Z. spina-christi are investigated in terms of their anti-inflammatory effects. Our intention is to evaluate the effects of Z. spina-christi described in ancient Egyptian papyri, and to show whether the effects can be proven with modern pharmacological methods. Furthermore, we determine the active ingredients in crude extracts for their inhibitory activity toward NF-κB pathway.

Concepts: Africa, Saudi Arabia, Arabian Peninsula, Middle East, Ancient Egypt, Egypt, Yemen, Papyrus


The first known recorded evidence for the reduction of a mandibular joint dislocation is documented in a papyrus dated to c. 1500 BC that originated from ancient Egypt. This same technique was later discussed by Hippocrates in Greece and the Hippocratic corpus is referred to in early Islamic writings. It is detailed in medieval European texts and eventually was incorporated into modern dental and medical practice. Today, mandibular joint dislocation is probably not that common but to be included in an important ancient Egyptian treatise, predominately concerned with trauma to the head and neck, could suggest it was a more frequent occurrence in antiquity. This could relate to the heavy tooth wear, frequent antemortem tooth loss and the related sequelae of severe malocclusion and overclosure evident in many surviving ancient Egyptian skulls.

Concepts: Head and neck, Middle Ages, Ancient Egypt, Egypt, Hippocrates, Egyptian language, Hippocratic Corpus, Papyrus


Nearly 100 years after its first discovery, Diploöspora rosea was detected on biologically damaged parchment paper in Rome, Italy and isolated from house dust collected in Micronesia. The isolation of this culture permitted morphological study of colony characters, conidium and conidiophore development, and phylogenetic investigations using sequences of nuc 18S rDNA, internal transcribed spacers, and 28S rDNA. The results indicate that D. rosea is an onygenalean fungus, of uncertain taxonomic position, basal or sister to the Gymnoascaceae. Based on observations of the parchments using SEM-Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy, we speculate that the fungus occurs in archival and domestic environments subject to periodic wetting. Its ability to grow on all low water activity media used in the study, including malt extract agar amended with 60 % sucrose, confirms its xerophilic nature.

Concepts: Fungus, Book, Parchment, Papyrus