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About the Database

Content section: 

Database Contents

The Tebtunis Papyri Database contains detailed records for several thousand papyrus documents, and a small group of ostraka.  This project is ongoing, so only a fraction of the Bancroft Library’s papyrus collection is cataloged to date, and some database records are incomplete. We continually add to and update this growing resource.

Digitization of papyri currently indexed has been prioritized according to one or more of the following criteria:

  • Risk of physical damage. Many of the papyri housed in vinylite (plastic) had suffered severely from their mounts.  These texts have now been cleaned and placed under glass. The papyri most at risk were those that came from crocodile cartonnage.
  • Representation. We have tried to include a sample of each category of papyrology in the database to show the depth of the collection.
  • Subject. The texts in the collection are of interest to papyrologists and historians of Graeco-Roman Egypt, Egyptologists, historians of the ancient world, philologists, historians of law, etc. Texts have been selected to demonstrate the collection's relevance to these and other fields.

The Papyrus Fragments

Each database record contains information about one intellectual item, a text.  Generally, each papyrus fragment contains one text.  In a number of cases, however, multiple texts exist on one fragment, or one text carries across several fragments.  

The physical properties of each intellectual item (text) are presented in detail in each record, as are the precise relations with other physical items (context).

The Design of Each Record  

The contents of the database are presented on two levels.

The generalized level includes

  • Holding institution
  • Call number
  • Author
  • Title
  • Modern date

The detailed level includes

  • Holding institution
  • Call number
  • Shelving information, including number of frames
  • Author
  • Type of text (for documentary texts), or Title (for literary texts)
  • Section/Side
  • Publication/Side
  • Connections (to other known texts)
  • Number of fragments
  • Dimensions (sizes)
  • Number of (columns and) lines
  • Physical properties (margins; sheet joins; secondary information written on the papyrus)
  • Paleographic description
  • Internal date
  • Modern date
  • Origin
  • Provenance (crocodile or human mummies, town, etc.)
  • Language
  • Content
  • Context (if part of an archive or dossier)
  • Persons (individuals mentioned in the text other than the author)
  • Geographical (places mentioned in the text)
  • Publications
  • Bibliographical information, including corrections
  • Translation (if available)

The detailed view is followed by images of the papyrus, when available.

Little Studied Texts

There is also a large number of “brief records” in the database. These represent chiefly unmounted fragments yet to be studied in detail. They are mostly documentary texts, in Greek or Demotic. The approximate date or period of the fragment is given, along with its provenance, when known.

Reproduction of Images in the Database

Use or reproduction of original papyrus fragments, or images thereof, may be made only by permission of the Curator.

All requests for permission to publish texts or reproduce images must be submitted in writing to:

Todd Hickey
Curator, Center for the Tebtunis Papyri
The Bancroft Library
University of California
Berkeley, CA 94720-6000