Maybe it was while researching the Scribes Tablet that I found this information on palimpsets.
Back when people had to slaughter animals and tan the hides to get something to write on, they didn't just crumple a sheet and toss it in the wastebasket. Parchment was scraped clean and reused like this:
Many times, not every trace of the old lettering could be completely removed, so often the new lettering was written in the opposite direction for greater clarity, as in the Archimedes Palimpset:
What I really love are architectural palimpsets, like this:
Architectural palimpsests occur when a building is torn down, but leaves a print on the adjacent building. You can see the placement of the stairs, the color of the rooms. Years ago, when I was teaching art to young children, I asked a class to draw maps of their homes - to show the arrangements of the rooms inside the house. One girl, from a somewhat dysfunctional family, was visibly upset and did NOT want to draw her home. I think she was afraid what it would reveal about her family (of course I discretely changed the assignment for her). But I feel that these palimpsests expose a view of hidden lives - like my Reliquary for my mother. You see things that were never meant for public view.
Sometimes, artists will add to a palimpsest:
When I found this next palimpset image, I wondered if somebody added to the remains of the old building to create a work of art....like the artists who use mending as an art form...