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Papyrology: Home

This is a research guide for students and researchers seeking to do papyrological research or to make critical use of papyri as evidence.

Introduction

This is a research guide for students and scholars interested in papyrology and the critical use of papyrological evidence and scholarship.

Papyrology is the study of ancient inked (as opposed to inscribed, i.e., epigraphic) texts preserved on various media, chiefly papyrus, but also potsherds (ostraca) and wooded tablets. Although papyrus texts survive from Pharaonic Egypt, "papyrology" usually refers to the study of handwritten texts from seventh century BCE, when demotic Egyptian texts start to appear, to the ninth and tenth centuries, when papyrus is increasingly supplanted by paper. The languages represented include forms of Egyptian (demotic and Coptic), Aramaic, Greek, Latin, and Arabic. Papyri constitute one of our major sources for the social history of the ancient world and our only direct evidence for the transmission of classical literature in antiquity.

Several major centers of papyrological research are located in Europe, and as a result German, French, and Italian remain important languages of scholarship, as this guide will reflect. Also, papyrologists have been comparatively quick to embrace digital technology, so the reader will find digital resources integrated into all of the sections instead of segregated into a separate section.

The tabs above will direct you to lists of specific papyrological resources and collections available at NYU, New York, and beyond.

NYU Links

History of papyrology

​Bowman, A. K., Coles, R. A., Gonis, N., Obbink, D, and Parsons, P. J. (Eds.) (1983)Oxyrhynchus: A City and Its TextsGraeco-Roman Memoirs 93. London: Egyptian Exploration Society.

A collection of essays dedicated to many different aspects of Oxyrhynchus, one of the most important sites for both the recovery of papyri and the development of papyrology as a field, as documented by several of the initial essays.


Capasso, M. (2007). Hermae: Scholars and scholarship in papyrology. Biblioteca degli “Studi di egittologia e di papirologia” 4. Pisa, : Giardini.

Biographies written by leading papyrologists about the first generations of papyrologists and scholars who shaped the field.


Cuvigny, H. (2009). The finds of papyri: The archaeology of papyrology. In Bagnall, R. S. (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of papyrology (pp. 30-58). Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

The history archeology and excavation at major sites that have produced papyri from the late 19th century to the present.


Keenan, J. G. (2009). The history of the discipline. In Bagnall, R. S. (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of papyrology (pp. 59-78). Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

History of the field from an institutional perspective through the contributions of particular scholars in building collections and the emergence of “schools” of papyrology in the 20th century.​


Preisendanz, K. (1933). Papyrusfunde und Papyrusforschung. Leipzig: Verlag Karl W. Hiersemann.

An older but still fundamental history of papyrology by one of the field's early architects.


"History of the Tebtunis Papyri." The Center for the Tebtunis Papyri website. Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley (last checked Apr. 28, 2016).

An excellent historical account of the collection at Berkeley from Tebtunis in the Fayyum, from excavation, through acquisition, to conservation and digitization.

Papyrologists at NYU

Roger Bagnall, Leon Levy Director of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World and Prof. of Ancient History

Raffaella Cribiore, Professor of Classics, NYU Dept. of Classics

Andrew Monson, Assoc. Prof. of Classics, NYU Dept. of Classics

David M. Ratzan, Head Librarian, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World