Muse, Sing the Tale of the Reconstructed Scrolls

In the midst of lots of work, a lovely article by David Keys and Nicholas Pyke of the Independent about bits and pieces of papyrus found in an ancient Egyptian garbage dump, reconstructed using a variety of satellite scanning and search technologies.

“The papyrus fragments were discovered in historic dumps outside the Graeco-Egyptian town of Oxyrhynchus (“city of the sharp-nosed fish”) in central Egypt at the end of the 19th century. Running to 400,000 fragments, stored in 800 boxes at Oxford’s Sackler Library, it is the biggest hoard of classical manuscripts in the world.” And it took a tremendous amount of work to scan and reconstruct.

So the ancients threw away Sophocles, Euripides, and Hesiod like we throw away bodice rippers and serial killer novels. Or maybe the Hellenes would have preferred what we read now – and were stuck with “And the helmets are shaking their purple-dyed crests, and for the wearers of breast-plates the weavers are striking up the wise shuttle’s songs, that wakes up those who are asleep.”

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