DECORAH, Iowa – A sophomore at Luther College made an incredible discovery in January: documents, thousands of years old.
“Nobody knew they were there, ” said Philip Freeman, Professor of Classics at the Decorah, Iowa college. “They’d been sitting in this box for decades.”
Some things you expect to find on a college campus, but not this.
“Some ancient Egyptian papyri,” Freeman said. “These are documents that are almost 2000 years old … Very few of them survive, and most of them are not in very good condition.”
The papyri are woven from reeds, and have ancient Greek writing on them. They were hidden away in a basement archive at Luther.
“We were going through every single folder of every single box of our 3000 linear foot collection,” said Sasha Griffin, Digital Archivist. “Which is a lot of work, yes.”
It was during that search that sophomore Brittany Anderson found the documents.
“Part of it is sort of surreal, because you don’t really expect to find first century A.D. papyrus in the library of a basement in Iowa,” she said.
The papyri were filed away in the box of a long-gone professor, Orlando Qualley. Freeman believes Qualley brought them back from Egypt in the 1920s. Freeman said they’re incredibly well preserved. Modern papyrus reproductions grow brittle and decay after only a few years.
Click here to read the rest of this story on KWWL.