The village of Deir al-Medina has produced many thousands of ostraca telling us all about everyday life in New Kingdom Egypt, at least for this village. The village itself was first excavated between 1905 and 1909 by the Italians under Ernesto Schiaparelli. Between 1922 and 1951 Deir al-Medina was excavated again by the French under Bernard Bruyère.To publish a hieratic papyrus or ostracon we need access to the original source. Egyptologists copy original papyri by tracing the ink markings onto plastic drawing film, the kind that was used to make cartoons in the days before computer animation. Many factors influence how a scribe writes: whether writing material is smooth or uneven (like a limestone ostracon with a rough spot in the middle that will absorb the ink), or whether the addressee has a high enough status that you care about the quality of the handwriting.
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