Friday, September 7, 2018

Macquarie Papyri

Macquarie Papyri
The Museum of Ancient Cultures at Macquarie University, Sydney holds some 900 ancient papyri and related items. The core of the collection, now the largest in Australia, was built from an initiative of Edwin Judge (the inaugural Professor of Ancient History at Macquarie) in 1972 and was assembled over the following decade. A number of scholars have since worked on these papyri, and it is a pleasure to acknowledge the special contribution of Stuart Pickering. The Macquarie Papyri Research and Development Committee was established in January 2008 to oversee (among other objectives) the systematic publication of the collection, of which only a few pieces had previously appeared.
This website aims to facilitate access to and understanding of the collection, both for professional researchers and those with a general interest in the ancient world. It provides metadata and (at least) thumbnail images for all items in the collection. Registered researchers can apply for access to high resolution images of texts to assist analysis aimed at publication.
Most of our papyri are written in Greek, but there are also a number in other languages and scripts, including Hieroglyphic, Hieratic, Demotic, and Coptic (Egyptian), and Hebrew, Latin, and Old Nubian. Some are obvious treasures, such as those glimpsed in the slideshow on the front page of the site—a fragment of the New Testament book of Acts, a Coptic codex of ritual power (on vellum), a beautifully preserved Demotic letter, and a fragment of a Sibylline oracle. Many others are fragments. One of our goals in publishing details of the material online is to support the identification of direct matches or indirect links with items in other collections around the world. Brilliant detective work by Willy Clarysse and Mark Depauw (from Leuven) and by Stuart Pickering has already established links with various externally- held papyri. We are aware of relationships with at least the collections in Cologne, Duke, and Milan. It is hoped that the imaging of our collection will lead to further exciting finds and improved readings of texts.
The website is funded by the Australian National Data Service and Macquarie University and has arisen from the work of members of the Papyri Committee, especially Malcolm Choat, Rosalie Cook, Trevor Evans, and Karl Van Dyke. The metadata platform and web application has been constructed by Intersect. The source code has been made open source and it is available here in github.

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