Case studies

The present research project aims to lay the foundation for an online interface through which papyrologists would be able to look for similar – or identical – handwritings to a given papyrus and typical samples of writings for a given period. To reach this ambitious goal, this project will first focus on three delimitated and complementary case studies.

Iliad case study

The first one is diachronic and literary: to reconstruct the papyri containing Homer’s Iliad. Around 1,500 papyrus fragments of the most famous poem of Antiquity have survived, from a period of over one millennium. Finding joints among these pieces will facilitate an understanding of the material aspects of ancient books and their use in society (many are school exercises, for example). Learn more about the Iliad case study here.

Dioscorus case study

The second case addresses the problem of day-to-day cursive writing: to identify scribes among the richest archive of the Byzantine period, the archive of Dioscorus of Aphrodito (6th c. A.D.), and to study the level of literacy in an important village of the Egyptian countryside. Learn more about the Dioscorus case study here.

Papas case study

The last case is a real jigsaw puzzle: hundreds of papyri were found broken into pieces, sometimes very small, in a jar. They belonged to an official at the beginning of Islamic rule (i.e. after 641) in Egypt named Papas and are in Greek and Coptic, the latter still being unpublished. Gathering the fragments in order to edit these documents will shed new light on the administration and society of Egypt as a newly conquered province.