In a basement laboratory of the Morgan Library and Museum in New York, an X-ray scanner is pumping invisible beams into a clump of charred parchment leaves that looks as delicate as a long dead flower.
The leaves are the remains of a severely scorched early book, or codex, which was written in southern Egypt some time between 400 and 600 A.D. It contains the Acts of the Apostles, one of the books of the New Testament, possibly bound with another work. The writing is Coptic, the language of Egypt before the Arab conquest in 642 A.D.
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