While the U-M Library’s collection of ancient papyri includes pieces renowned throughout the world, Rackham Associate Dean Arthur Verhoogt finds some of the more obscure items in its catalog to be just as intriguing: A soldier’s letter home, a child’s first writing exercise, even a tax roll can provide a singular connection to people who lived thousands of years ago and a new understanding of their lives and worlds. Verhoogt was recently presented with the University of Michigan Press Book Award for Discarded, Discovered, Collected, his introduction to U-M’s papyrus collection. In our Q&A, he discusses the archive’s origins, its importance, and the thrill of opening a box that can be a window through the ages.

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Originally published on Oct. 19th 2018