The Center for Tebtunis Papyri logoAncient Lives-the Tebtunis Papyri in Context header


This is an archived exhibit of The Bancroft Library, University California, Berkeley.

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Future Research


The Tebtunis excavations took place a century ago. In the course of this century, less than five percent of the documents have been properly edited and studied; the remainder of the texts, and the artefacts found during the same dig, have been studied marginally, or not at all. Nor have the papyri and artefacts been put back in context. There is much work to be done.

Before the papyri and artefacts can be properly studied, however, care must also be taken for their conservation. The Tebtunis Papyri arrived in Berkeley in a number of tin boxes; these boxes had been manufactured in Egypt by local metalworkers. When the number of these boxes was not sufficient, Grenfell and Hunt also used old cigarette tins to hold papyri. The papyri were inserted between pages of the Oxford Daily Gazette.

Over the decades, a number of fragments (more than 20,000) have been transferred to other locations (plastic, glass, acid-free folders), but there are some tin boxes with papyri in them. In two of these boxes, there are even unopened rolls. These papyri have never been studied, so their contents are as yet unknown.


image of magazine article on papyrus for the 21st century