The Lost Gospel
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  • The Next 1,700 Years

The Next 1,700 Years

Research and conservation has stabilized the codex.
Photograph by Kenneth Garrett/National Geographic

Though conserved and protected between sheets of glass, the document must be further safeguarded if it is to survive another 1,700 years. Excessive handling is out of the question, and future conservators must pay close attention to environmental conditions that can affect the ancient text: temperature, humidity, and light.

Despite the Gospel's desert origins, the ancient document can no longer withstand temperatures in excess of 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius).

The ancient inks are particularly threatened by light—and probably survived the past 1,700 years only because the codex was hidden in perpetual darkness. Anyone displaying the Gospel will have to ensure that only minimal light shines on the papyruses and that the light is filtered through ultraviolet glass.

The plates containing the papyruses must remain nearly horizontal at all times, even when placed on supports for study or for public viewing in the Gospel's future permanent home, the Coptic Museum in Cairo, Egypt.