The excavators were two men in their late twenties, operating from Oxford and financed by the Egypt Exploration Society of London. Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt had become friends when scholarships took them to Queens College, Oxford (they were off mountaineering together in the Tyrol in the summer holidays of 1889). By 1895, now on graduate scholarships, they were in Egypt. They were to spend the rest of their lives pioneering a new branch of classics: papyrology.
The finds were collected in baskets, then boxed and shipped back to Oxford one roll in an old biscuit tin (Huntley and Palmers Best). It was a lonely life, and even potentially dangerous; a shopping list of Hunts includes medicines, fish-hooks, The Old Curiosity Shop and a revolver with forty cartridges. Good luck in the gravedigging, wrote Grenfells brother.