Friday, April 22, 2016

Open Access Library: Trismegistos

[First posted in AWOL 16 September 2009. Most recently updated 20 October 2017]

Trismegistos is a conglomerate of databases, with Texts, Collections, Archives, People, Places, and Authors as main sections. We deal with texts from the ancient western world, dated between roughly 800 BC and AD 800. Our eventual goal is to provide information about all texts for which there is physical evidence dated to that period, but we have a long way to go still. This page wants to help you with what you can expect to find in the various sections in Trismegistos.

What are you looking for?

Think carefully what you want to look for in Trismegistos, and remember that the database has a history and is still growing. It once was limited to Egypt only, for some some sections that is still its current limitation. For others the ancient western world in general is covered, or at least that expansion is underway.

Information about Texts?

Are you looking for information about texts (inscriptions, manuscripts on papyrus or parchment - almost no coins) from the whole ancient western world, then go to Trismegistos Texts, but take into account the current coverage. It will vary according to the language and script used, and according to the writing surface. The result of searches there will be texts, each of which has a unique and stable id, e.g. Use this to refer to the text or to link to your database. The TM-number [1234] is also used for internal linking, e.g. to places where the text was found, archives to which the texts belonged, collections where the texts is preserved, personal names and people attested in the texts, publications of the text etc.

The full text itself, with a translation?

Sorry, Trismegistos is a metadata database. This means that its focus is on providing information about texts, not the transliterated text itself. Often Trismegistos will have a link to a database where you can find the full text, and occasionally we will offer the full text through partner databases, e.g. for Greek (and other) papyri.


Again sorry, Trismegistos is a metadata database. This means that its focus is on providing information about texts, not photographs. Often Trismegistos will have a link to a database where you can find a photograph, e.g. museum databases or for Greek (and other) papyri.

Information about (Classical) Authors?

The database Authors with works of (classical) authors is a relatively recent addition to Trismegistos. It is being built up, and is far from containing all works of all authors. Also, remember that Trismegistos focuses on texts for which there is physical evidence before AD 800. Most mediaeval manuscripts of Greek and Latin authors are more recent, and will thus not necessarily be included in the Author database, and certainly not in the Text database!

Information about Places in the ancient world

Since Trismegistos is currently expanding its range to include texts from the whole ancient western world, the Places database is expanding also. If you search in the places database (GEO), you will find places. From there, there will of course be links to texts found in that location (the Texts database) or attestations of that place in ancient texts (GEOREF).

Information about People and Names in the ancient world

In Trismegistos, the information about People database is for the time being mainly limited to Egypt, although an expansion to Latin inscriptions is on its way. If you search in the names database (NAM), you will find names. From there, there will of course be links to attestations of that name in ancient texts (REF). It is also possible to search for individuals (PER). For the distinction between the onomastic database and the prosopographic database, click here.

Information about Archives

The section Archives is almost exclusively concerned with Egypt. It is a database of collections of texts in antiquity.

Information about Collections

The section Collections is a database of modern institutional and private collections of texts. If you want to see which museums, spread all over the world, hold ancient texts, you can search here. Again links to the texts themselves are provided. Although many texts are kept in collections, this information is often neglected somewhat by scholars. For the Egyptian material, we have quite good coverage, but for other regions much work remains to be done.
We hope you enjoy using Trismegistos and would be happy with your support, in whatever way.

Trismegistos Online Publications (TOP)

This series, edited by W. Clarysse (K.U.Leuven) / M. Depauw (K.U.Leuven) / H.J. Thissen (Universität zu Köln), aims to provide freely downloadable pdf-documents with scholarly tools based upon or providing links to the Trismegistos database.
Contributors can send in manuscripts in Word format to The editors will decide whether the manuscript fits in the series and can be accepted for reviewing. An anonymous version of the manuscript will then be sent to two or more peers for evaluation. On the basis of their report the editors will take a decision whether to publish it in the series or not. Authors will be given the anonymous notes of the reviewers and can be asked to implement changes to their manuscript.

TOP 1 (Click to download)
M. Depauw, C. Arlt, M. Elebaut, A. Georgila, S.A. Gülden, H. Knuf, J. Moje, F. Naether, H. Verreth, S. Bronischewski, B. Derichs, S. Eslah, M. Kromer
A Chronological Survey of Precisely Dated Demotic and Abnormal Hieratic Sources
Version 1.0 (February 2007), Köln / Leuven 2008, xiii, 232 pp.
ISBN: 978-9-490604-0-04

TOP 2 (Click to download)
H. Verreth
A survey of toponyms in Egypt in the Graeco-Roman period
Version 2.0 (July 2013), Köln / Leuven 2013, 1253 pp. (12 Mb).
ISBN: To be determined (Version 1.0: 978-9-490604-0-35)
(The old version 1.0, from September 2008, is still available as well: click here to download in pdf).

TOP 3 (Click to download)
H. Verreth
The provenance of Egyptian documents from the 8th century BC till the 8th century AD
Version 1.0 (August 2009), Köln / Leuven 2009, 314 pp. (13.3 Mb).
ISBN: 978-9-490604-0-28

TOP 4 (Click to download)
A. Benaissa
Rural Settlements of the Oxyrhynchite Nome. A Papyrological Survey
Version 2.0 (May 2012), Köln / Leuven 2012, 496 pp. (8.4 Mb).
ISBN: 978-9-490604-0-42
(The old version 1.0, from October 2009, is still available as well: click here to download in pdf).

TOP 5 (Click to download)
H. Verreth
Toponyms in Demotic and Abnormal Hieratic texts from the 8th century BC till the 5th century AD
Version 1.0 (August 2011), Köln / Leuven 2011, 719 pp. (9.6 Mb).
ISBN: 978-9-490604-0-66

TOP 6 (Click to download)
K.A. Worp
A New Survey of Greek, Coptic, Demotic and Latin Tabulae Preserved from Classical Antiquity
Version 1.0 (February 2012), Leiden / Leuven 2012, 78 pp. (0.6 Mb).
ISBN: 978-9-490604-0-59

TOP 7 (Click to download)
J. Lundon
The Scholia Minora in Homerum. An Alphabetical List
Version 1.0 (November 2012), Köln / Leuven 2012, 250 pp. (2.0 Mb).
ISBN: 978-94-9060-407-3

TOP 8 (Click to download)
Y. Broux
Double Names in Roman Egypt: A Prosopography
Version 1.0 (January 2015), Leuven 2015, ix & 357 pp. (2.3 Mb).
ISBN: 978-94-9060-408-0

Y. Broux, with contributions from S. Vanbeselaere
Spaghetti Monsters al dente. An Introduction to Network Analysis for Historians
Leuven 2016.
ISBN: forthcoming

Further volumes are in preparation.

Trismegistos Online Publications Special Series (TOP SS)

Often a PhD thesis for some reason cannot be published immediately. In the years that follow, the authors do not find the time to revise the manuscript as they wanted. This in turn causes problems because new literature appears or the evidence of new sources needs to be incorporated. As a result, the manuscript often remains unpublished and the valuable insights risk to be inaccessible and thus lost for scholarship.
To prevent this, Trismegistos Online Publications have decided to open up a new 'Special Series', where valuable PhD theses or other scholarly manuscripts can be published with an ISBN number.
Contributors can send in manuscripts in Word or PDF format to The editor will consult experts about the quality of the manuscript without taking into account whether it is abreast of recent scholarly literature or developments.

TOP SS 1 (Click to download)
K. Geens
Panopolis, a Nome Capital in Egypt in the Roman and Byzantine Period (ca. AD 200-600)
Leuven 2014 [= Diss. Leuven 2007], xiii & 578 pp. (28.4 Mb).
ISBN: 978-94-9060-409-7

The TOP Special Series was created in 2014. Earlier manuscripts that have been made available in a similar way can be found below.
J. France
Theadelpheia and Euhemereia. Village History in Graeco-Roman Egypt
Leuven, 1999 (Click here; WARNING: large file 55 Mb !! ).
[Unpublished PhD thesis]

K. Vandorpe
Egyptische geografische elementen in Griekse transcriptie
In Dutch - (English title for reference only: Egyptian geographical elements in Greek transcription)
Leuven, 1988 (Click here; ZIP-file; after decompressing, you will get a folder containing the text itself - which has been split up in 2 parts – and an index to the text. All files are searchable PDF's. WARNING: large file 95,8 Mb !! ).
[Unpublished Master thesis, in Dutch]

H. Verreth
The northern Sinai from the 7th century BC till the 7th century AD. A guide to the sources
Leuven, 2006 (Click here).
ISBN: 978-9-490604-0-11
To open the pdf files, your computer has to have a recent version of Adobe Acrobat Reader. Some other applications can open pdf files as well, such as Preview on Mac OS X; however; the links in the pdf to the online database may not work in other applications (earlier versions of Preview e.g. do not recognize the links - this seems to have been fixed in Mac OS X 10.6 though).

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