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This case study shows the application of nontraditional diagnostic methods to investigate the microbial consortia inhabiting an ancient manuscript. The manuscript was suspected to be biologically deteriorated and SEM observations showed the presence of fungal spores attached to fibers, but classic culturing methods did not succeed in isolating microbial contaminants. Therefore, molecular methods, including PCR, denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE), and clone libraries, were used as a sensitive alternative to conventional cultivation techniques. DGGE fingerprints revealed a high biodiversity of both bacteria and fungi inhabiting the manuscript. DNA sequence analysis confirmed the existence of fungi and bacteria in manuscript samples. A number of fungal clones identified on the manuscript showed similarity to fungal species inhabiting dry or saline environments, suggesting that the manuscript environment selects for osmophilic or xerophilic fungal species. Most of the bacterial sequences retrieved from the manuscript belong to phylotypes with cellulolytic activities.