There is something radioactive about the work of Sappho. Each burning word seems to have a half-life of thousands of years. Yet we have so little of it: only the odd word or phrase survives from many lost poems. Some of what we have was found quoted in ancient grammar books, or in a mention or translation by a fellow poet hundreds of years after Sappho’s death. But the most bizarre and tantalising discoveries have been uncovered in the dry air of the Egyptian desert on discarded papyrus. Fragments of Sappho have been found torn into strips, used to plug a wine bottle or stuffed into the mouths of mummified crocodiles.
Dorothy Porter On Passion (from here)