The Center for the Tebtunis Papyri

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The Center for the Tebtunis Papyri

CTP in the news:

CTP on Nova ScienceNow

A segment on multispectral imaging of papyri features a number of scenes taken in CTP's temporary quarters and views of the Dictys papyrus, one of the pieces imaged by Professors Macfarlane and Ware of BYU. Papyrologist Todd Hickey appears in a non-speaking role. The video may be viewed at the site below:

Hearst Expedition Papyri from Naga ed-Deir Finally Reach Berkeley

At a ceremonial presentation in the Morrison Library on Wednesday, November 1, 2006, CTP staff, advisory committee members, and campus officials celebrated the arrival of additional material from the 1901-1904 Hearst-funded excavations conducted by George A. Reisner at Naga ed-Deir and nearby sites. Research conducted at the Center and at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts made clear Berkeley's claim on these papyri, and an agreement was reached with the MFA for the transfer of the papyri. This lot of papyri ranges in date from a hieroglyphic "Letter to the Dead" of the late third millenium to a fragment of a parchment with a Coptic literary text from late antiquity. The most famous pieces from Naga ed-Deir are the Reisner Papyri I-IV (about 1900 BCE), giving accounts of labor and materials for royal agricultural and building projects.

A transcript of remarks of Papyrologist/Curator Todd Hickey and Director Donald Mastronarde, with a link to the images shown at the event, is provided here:

See also the story by Kathleen Maclay of UC Berkeley Media Relations:

The San Francisco Chronicle and KGO-TV news covered this story:

1000 Additional Hearst Tebtunis Papyri Received from Oxford

At a ceremonial "opening" in the Morrison Library on Tuesday, October 18, 2005, CTP staff, advisory committee members, and campus officials celebrated the arrival of additional material from the 1899-1900 Hearst-funded excavation at Tebtunis. Research conducted at the Center established Berkeley's ownership of three tins of papyri that had been languishing in storage in Oxford.

A transcript of remarks of Director Mastronarde and Papyrologist/Curator Hickey is provided here:

The campus Public Affairs office provided a press release and photo:

The San Francisco Chronicle and the Oakland Tribune printed articles and photographs:

Earlier items for CTP in the news:

The Bancroft Library's Spring 2003 newsletter, Bancroftiana, Volume 122 featured an article entitled Reading Papyri, Writing History by Ancient History and Mediterranean Archeology Graduate Group student (and CTP Research Assistant) Elisabeth O'Connell.

The Los Angeles Times featured CTP in its December 4, 2002, article Unlocking the Secrets of Ancient Papyrus.

The Bancroft Library's Spring 2002 newsletter, Bancroftiana, Volume 120 (page 14) includes an interview with Dr. Todd Hickey, CTP payrologist/curator, entitled Papyrus Comes of Age.

The College of Letters and Sciences on-line magazine, Framing the Questions: New Visions from the Arts and Humanities at Berkeley (Issue 2, Spring 2002), includes an article on CTP entitled Everyday Ancients.

The Berkeleyan, UC Berkeley's Office of Public Affais newsletter features CTP in Rare Papyri Collection Gets New Lease on Life

New Acquisitions!

In spring 2002 The Bancroft Library was able to purchase two Coptic texts for CTP through its Moffitt Fund. The addition of this Coptic material expands the breadth of the collection to include examples of all the languages and scripts commonly used in Greco-Roman Egypt. The term "Coptic" describes the last stage of the Egyptian language, in which the cumbersome demotic script was replaced by the Greek alphabet with the addition of six to eight characters, depending on the Coptic dialect. These characters were derived from demotic and represented sounds not found in Greek. Although Egyptians had experimented in using the Greek script to render their own language from the third/second century BCE, it was not until early Egyptian Christians began to translate Greek biblical texts into their native language that Coptic began to develop as a literary language. By the fifth century CE Coptic had become a vehicle for original literature and everyday documents.

One of the new pieces is a letter; the other, literature, perhaps part of a hymnal. The letter is certainly from the Pisentius archive; the literary text may be. Pisentius was the sixth/seventh century Bishop of Coptos who fled to Western Thebes during the Sasanian invasion of Egypt. The archive is primarily composed of correspondence that was sent to Pisentius by individuals seeking his intercession in affairs both worldly and otherwise. Texts from the dossier began to circulate on the antiquities market in the nineteenth century.

The pieces have not been published, and the purchase will afford the University's growing number of Coptic language students additional opportunities to practice editing texts.