Wasabi Can Be Used to Preserve Ancient Papyrus

According to a new study, which was recently published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, wasabi, a plant also known as Japanese horseradish, can be used to preserve ancient papyrus.

Papyrus is a material made out of the pith of the papyrus plant. It has been used since ancient times for various purposes, but most notably as a writing surface since ancient times. The biological component of papyrus makes it susceptible to various forms of deterioration, including being contaminated by fungus.

Fungal infections quickly spread through papyrus, causing the material to crack and causing loss of color in writings and drawings. This has been a serious issue with ancient papyrus scrolls, threatening to destroy them or make them unreadable.

Wasabi has been used for its antifungal properties for thousands of years, prompting a group of researchers from the Grand Egyptian Museum to test them on papyrus.

They recreated thousands of years of wear on a new piece of painted papyrus and then infected it with fungal cultures. Next, they placed papyrus in proximity to the wasabi powder and water mixture to expose the material to its vapors.

The researchers checked the papyrus after several days and found that the fungal infection was gone. Furthermore, the colors on the papyrus remained intact.

The team behind the study now plans to study whether the same preservation method can be used on different materials while the Grand Egyptian Museum already has plans to put their findings into practical use.

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