How Women’s Wisdom Was Lost

from A mummified crocodile in the back streets of Oxford might not be an obvious guardian for one of life’s great mysteries. But some 2,000-year-old treacle brown remains made up of recycled scraps of Egyptian papyrus, torn up to encase the reptile, hide hard evidence of a substantial historical cover-up. Now stored in 100-year-old kerosene cans and Huntley & Palmers biscuit tins, the ancient fragments were originally dumped as rubbish in ancient Oxyrhynchus (the town of the sharp-nosed fish). Their salvation, by two British archaeologists from 1896, who heard that locals were using the papyri fragments as organic fertiliser, was a godsend: these unpromising shreds rewrite history.

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