Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Trismegistos Archives Updated

Trismegistos Archives
Most papyri are not found as individual items, but in groups, which are called "archives" by the papyrologists. Ideally such an archive is discovered by an archaeologist, who then describes in detail the order in which the texts were put down in antiquity (often in a jar or bundled in cloth). In fact, most papyri are found in clandestine excavations (though new finds such as those in Kellis, in the eastern oasis and in the Italian-French excavations at Tebtynis are better documented), and archives have to be reconstructed on the basis of the contents of the papyri and indications of a common purchase. A common find is not enough to make an archive, and therefore a rubbish heap, a dump of papyri, papyri found in the same house or temple or reused for the same mummy cartonnage (see for instance the archive of Leon) do not constitute by themselves archives. An archive is a group of texts which were collected in antiquity with a specific purpose (see bibliography). The purpose may even be to discard some items from a larger archive and then throw them away.
In the database we have collected information of more than 500 archives, dated between the 6th century BC and the 7th century AD in Greek, Latin, Demotic, Coptic, Arabic and a mixture of all these. For each archive the user can access the individual texts, now amounting to nearly 20,000 records. Hundred and thirty archives have already received a full description in PDF format; these are marked with the symbol + before the name. The 145 archives of the Fayum area, the ancient nomos Arsinoites, and 21 archives of the Upper Egyptian town of Pathyris have also been published in the series Collectanea Hellenistica (see Archives projects).
On the basis of the archive keepers a distinction can be made between public and private archives. The former were collected by an official or an administrative body, the latter by a private person or a group of persons. Typical examples of public archives are the tax lists of Karanis, the so-called archive of Menches (in fact the archive of the village scribes of Kerkeosiris) and the enteuxeis found at Magdola. Private archives may be owned by a single individual (e.g. Claudius Tiberianus) or by successive generations, in which case we can call them family archives (e.g. the Dryton archive). In several cases officials kept part of their administrative papers when retiring from office and even mixed them up with their private correspondence. Such mixed archives are preserved for the engineers Kleon and Theodoros and for Apollonios, the strategos of the Heptakomia.
A division by type of documents only partly coincides with that by archive keepers. Many private archives largely consists of title deeds, documents proving ownership rights over immovables, and receipts, showing that the archive keeper has paid his dues to other persons or to the state. This is particularly common with demotic texts. Archives linked with law-suits can be private (e.g. the lawsuit of Lamiske or that of Isidoros) or official (e.g. the enteuxeis or the petitions addressed to the village epistates of Euhemereia). Some archives consists entirely of correspondence, usually incoming, but also drafts or copies of incoming letters; examples are the private archive of Apollonios and the official archive of the oikonomos Harmachis. Few archives consists of a single type of documents, but in most there is a dominant factor, which we have tried to recognize.
The archive keeper has kept the documents for a certain use, which we have reconstructed wherever possible. Most documents are incoming or outgoing. Incoming documents were written by third persons for the archive keeper(s), e.g. letters, contracts or receipts for private persons, petitions or reports to officials. Outgoing documents are written by (or in the name of) the archive keepers; usually they are drafts or copies, the originals being sent or given to another party. Sometimes outgoing copies are returned to the sender, with an official subscription. They appear not only in private archives, but also in official archives (e.g. the land survey reports by the village scribe Menches). Sometimes older title-deeds end up in the hands of an archive keeper together with immovable property; they are incoming in an indirect way. In a law-suit dossier legal texts may be incorporated as precedents. There are also internal documents, mostly lists and accounts. The balance between incoming and outgoing documents, and the possible presence of unexplained "intruders" determines the typology of an archive as much as the type of archive owner(s) and the type of documents.

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