Preserving for the distant future (was: Re: Disasters and Recovery)

From: <(>
Date: Tue Jan 19 10:32:52 1999

> There were comments that the Dead Sea scrools were on parchment rather
> than paper. True. There are Egyptian papyri that are older than the
> Dead Sea scrolls (some retaining quite a bit of color).

To be pedantic, also not paper. They dried the reeds and glued strips
together, rather than pulping them. No acid in the treatment for a

Now, as for what the best paper is, not far from my parents' they still
make paper by hand at Wookey Hole Mill. Originally set up to recycle
cloth, they now import raw cotton from the US (recycled cloth contains too
much artificial fibre). But the treatment for the rags was to boil them up
in caustic soda (NaOH), not acid...

I think linen (flax) fibres make pretty good paper. Manila (?sp) fibres
make strong envelopes.

How about printing on Tyvek? That stuff's pretty indestructible.

> And yes, there's the chiselled stone media. If somebody can get me a
> good source for affordable media, I'll start work on a printer (I
> think the headstone folks have some items that could be built into a
> prototype).

I don't know whether you can get the stuff in the US, but in the UK slate
was used extensively as a roofing material until quite recently (you can
still get new slates, but most new buildings use modern composite materials
in roof tiles). Most building salvage places will sell you secondhand
roofing slates by the box. Not suitable for chiselling, though - better to
use some sort of grinding tip on a miniature hand drill.

Another suggestion. The Mormons claim their scripture was preserved on
metal plates (metal foil?) for well over 2000 years. You could ask for
specifications - alas, the originals have mysteriously vanished...

Received on Tue Jan 19 1999 - 10:32:52 GMT

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