Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Proceedings of the 28th Congress of Papyrology

Proceedings of the 28th Congress of Papyrology
Citation:Nodar A, Torallas Tovar S, editors. Proceedings of the 28th Congress of Papyrology; 2016 August 1-6; Barcelona. Barcelona: Publicacions de l'Abadia de Montserrat, Universitat Pompeu Fabra; 2019.


The 28th congress had a remarkably high concentration of restorers and scientists when compared with previous editions. While digital tools and databases have been present for a while, perhaps the most noteworthy developments encountered in recent times are those belonging to the “material turn”. Taking as a starting point the increasingly necessary presence of archaeology in our discipline, the community has realised that applying the same approaches and methodologies used in other types of archaeological findings may provide invaluable information to contextualise the papyri, which has been one the major challenges of Papyrology from its very beginning. Thus, the study of the chemical composition of the inks used to write our documents, or the condition of the papyrus support from a physicochemical point of view, are enriching papyrological methodologies for providing not only chronological, but also environmental and geographical context. In this respect, both the conservation of papyrus collections and subsequent reflection on the protocols of interaction with the material acquire particular importance: the papyri are no longer just a support for texts, they also carry information within their physicality intimately related to those texts which we ought to preserve, too. The current political climate has also had an impact in our field. The market of antiquities, being a natural place for the trade of papyrus documents, shares many of the same concerns and discussions that today are affecting the archeological and art historical fields. In the recent years, associations of papyrologists have issued ethical codes or guidelines as recommendations on how to deal with papyrology. If it is true that papyrologists can contribute greatly to the understanding of the ancient world, and, in this manner, propose methods of interpreting and resolving problems that we face in our present day, it is also true that we cannot ignore practices that we would otherwise find unacceptable just for the sake of bringing to light new documents.

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