Provenance and The Oxyrhynchus Papyri

Over at rougeclassicism there are a few questions posed about the provenance of the recently publicized identification of a Greek papyrus as The First Apocalypse of James. The papyrus is to be published in an upcoming volume of The Oxyrhynchus Papyri series. Candida Moss has written up a nice summary of the background of this piece and its significance that corrects some mistaken news reports that have been circulating in recent weeks. Since a chapter in my forthcoming book is dedicated to the Christian literary papyri from Oxyrhynchus, I’ve had to work through some of the interesting issues surrounding this collection of material. It’s a little more complicated than is generally recognized. Continue reading

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Ancient Book Covers and “Cartonnage”

As a follow-up to my last post on the development of the use of the French term “cartonnage”: It looks like it was the late 1950s when the term “cartonnage” began to be applied to the material sometimes used in ancient book covers. Today, this is a common usage among papyrologists. Some scholars of bookbinding have not been entirely happy with this development. Continue reading

Posted in Anton Fackelmann, Book covers, Mummy cartonnage, Nag Hammadi, Schøyen Collection, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cartonnage (Mummy and Otherwise)

A question from a commenter on a recent post prompts me to write up a quick discussion of the history of the word “cartonnage” and its current use to describe both mummy casings and the covers of some ancient books. As far as I know, this term was first adopted by Anglophone Egyptologists in the nineteenth century to talk about the material sometimes used to make mummy casings. Continue reading

Posted in Book covers, Find Stories, Mummies, Mummy cartonnage, William Matthew Flinders Petrie | 1 Comment

The Hawara Homer

A chapter in my book is dedicated to “find stories” of early Christian manuscripts. Along the way, I touch upon similar narratives of discoveries of other Roman era manuscripts as well, but I didn’t really have the chance to go into as much detail as I would have liked with these cases. I’ve already mentioned on this blog the story (or stories) of the Harris Homers and the crocodile pit. A second especially interesting narrative involves another “named” manuscript of the Iliad, the so-called Hawara Homer. Continue reading

Posted in Fayum Portraits, Find Stories, Harris Homer, Hawara Homer, Mummies, William Matthew Flinders Petrie | Leave a comment

The Bodmer Papyri: An Inventory of “P.Bodmer” Items

The longest chapter of my forthcoming book is dedicated to “The Bodmer Papyri,” a group of manuscripts that can be confusing even for scholars of early Christianity. The name derives from the Swiss collector Martin Bodmer (1899-1971), who bought a number of papyrus and parchment manuscripts from Egypt in the 1950s and 1960s. Many (though not nearly all) of these pieces seem to derive from a single ancient find in Upper Egypt.

Bodmer and Menander

Martin Bodmer with a leaf of the Bodmer Menander codex (P.Bodmer XXV+IV+XXVI)

So, the term “Bodmer Papyri” usually refers to this ancient find (which also contained material that Bodmer did not buy), but Bodmer’s collection of early Christian manuscripts also contains early Christian manuscripts from Egypt that were not part of this find. The early papyrus and parchment manuscripts in Bodmer’s collection, now part of the Fondation Martin Bodmer, carry the papyrological designation “P.Bodmer.” There does not seem to be a complete, up-to-date list of these “P.Bodmer” items online, so I am producing one here. Most of these manuscripts are presently in the Fondation Martin Bodmer in Geneva, although some of them are now elsewhere (and now have other additional names, just to make things a little more confusing).

Continue reading

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Anton Fackelmann: Conservator and Seller of Antiquities

In researching the supposed first-century papyrus of Mark’s gospel associated with Anton Fackelmann, I found that there wasn’t a lot of information about Fackelmann available either online or elsewhere. So, I thought I would take a moment to write up a quick summary of what I have learned of the work of the long-time conservator of papyrus and parchment at Vienna over the last few years. Continue reading

Posted in Antiquities Market, Anton Fackelmann, Cologne Mani Codex, Derveni Papyrus, First Century Mark, Herculaneum Papyri, Mummy cartonnage | Leave a comment

The Harris Homers and the Crocodile Pit of Maabdeh

In the 2017 issue of the Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists, I have an article that ended up being a sort trip down the rabbit hole. The title gives you an idea of the curious combination of topics: “The Crocodile Pit of Maabdeh, Florence Nightingale, and the British Museum’s Acquisition of the Harris Homers.” This all started because I wanted to cite a particular papyrus, the so-called Harris Homer.

The first thing to note is that there are actually two different manuscripts that are sometimes called “the Harris Homer.” Both were part of the collection of Anthony Charles Harris (1790-1869), a British merchant and collector of antiquities who lived in Alexandria in Egypt. Continue reading

Posted in Anthony Charles Harris, Antiquities Market, British Museum, Find Stories, Harris Homer, Mummies, Selima Harris | 1 Comment