History of Papyrology - beta

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address Cairo.

My dear Smyly,
I hope you have been
receiving instalments of Tebtunis I regularly, and
that some ideas have occured to you about 61.1 We
have long driven away the cobwebs of κεχωρισμένη
πρόσοδος κ. τ .λ. in the interest of new finds.2
Our career has been more than usually chequered.3
The first cemetery proved a frost,4 nothing but
late Roman or pre-4th dynasty Egyptian, neither
at all in our line:5 so we returned to the place
we found the papyrus mummies in tolerable
preservation last year and set to work on the Roman
tombs6 These produced several rather fine portrait
mummies & some nice glass etc,7 but what was more
to the point there were some early Ptolemaic tombs mixed
up with the Roman, so we got a few more papyrus
mummies, which will form a useful supplement to those

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obtained last year.8 Then we moved southwards and
at a site about 6 miles west of Tebtunis, called
Khamsîn discovered another cemetery of crocodiles.9
It was quite small and only took 2 ½ days to
dig, but the proportion of crocodiles stuffed
with papyri was extraordinarily high, and 5
or 6 of the beasts rank in quantity ^of papyri with
the best of the Tebtunis ones, except 27.10
Fortune however dealt us a nasty blow by
causing demotic to preponderate greatly.11 Still
there are some nice Greek documents, and it is
rather useful that they follow immediately after
the Tebtunis ones in date, belonging to
Soter II, after his return from exile, and Neos
Dionysius12. The Ptolemaic tombs there we had
mostly dug in 1900 when we found only 8 or 9
papyrus cartonnage mummies, the majority of
them having been buried in large pit tombs
which had been plundered anciently.13 This time

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however we took the trouble to clear these out,
and the desert being particularly good we
recovered sundry pieces of cartonnage and even
a few mummies in good condition and not much
knocked about.14 Then hearing that the
natives had discovered a crocodile cemetery
at Illahun we moved here a day or two
ago. This cemetery necropolis was of course dug by Petrie
14 years ago, but not very well.15 It is odd
for instance that he didn't find out in digging
the temple of Kahun that the sides of the ridge
on which it stands were honeycombed with
Ptolemaic tombs containing papyrus mummies
(2nd cent) and that there was a nice cemetery
of 3rd cent B.C. mummies within 100 yards.
The natives however naturally of course found out both subsequently
and naturally have destroyed pretty nearly
everything.16 The crocodile cemetery however was
not discovered until a few months ago, being
away by itself in a very low piece of desert17

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So it is practically untouched. So far however
it has not proved a success, papyrus being scarce
and badly preserved. What papyri there are seem
to be of Augustus' time.18 Whether the Ptolemaic
crocodiles are th included in these which have no
papyri or are somewhere else, we have not yet
decided.19 We expect to finish this place in a
fortnight and then to move to Hawara which is
about 7 miles off, there to investigate the crocodile
tombs which Petrie found but did not dig seriously.20
Since Hawara was the cemetery of Arsinoë, there
are possibilities, but I dont put much faith in
them.21 We shall hardly get back much before
April 28, and Tebtunis I, I foresee, will not be
finished till the end of June.22 Are you going to
the Coronation ?23 It would be nice if you ^could come and
pay us a visit at Oxford in the last week of June
or thereabouts Having found more miscellaneous
antiquities than usual this time we are contemplating
a joint exhibition with Petrie, so shall be in town
the first week in July.24

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Jouguet has had great luck in finding papyrus
mummies in good condition this time.25 His camp was
only 1 ½ hour from ours at Khamsîn26 so we were
able to exchange visits and mutually gloat over
our respective finds and the ill success so far of
our German rival,27 who had the ὕβρις to select
Harît which we dug in 1899, but having found
nothing there he's now gone elsewhere.28 The Fayûm
has is frightfully exhausted. We are on the track
of one or two rather promising sites in Upper
Egypt for next year. The use of papyrus cartonnage
was by no means contained to the Fayûm, and
we have been buying some rather good pieces from
a new place, though they can't see the light
unfortunately for some years yet.29 But in view
of the approaching slump in Ptolemaic papyri
owing to the various new discoveries it behoves
you to get out P.P. III as soon as possible.30
Jouguet will make rather a mess of his, I expect.
He is a very nice chap, but hasn't much idea of
reading a papyrus - still less of undoing a
mummy case.31
We have been favored by exceptionally gorgeous
weather and have had a rare good time. The next
month will be more trying probably, for the sirocco

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is now due.32
The nice example set by Dublin in giving me
a degree was nothing in being followed by
Germany which has made us Ph Ds of Königsberg33.
There is no hood, I regret to say. The Dublin
one excites much envy among my colleagues.
Love to Mahaffy. Dont let him put any of the facts
of this letter into print. We There is not the least
chance of our being able to come to Dublin this year,
I fear. Indeed now that the French & Germans have
taken up papyrus digging we shall go on with it
regularly so long as we, the sites & the money
last, and so shall always be as busy as ever
in England.
Hoping to see you in the summer and
with remembrances from Hunt.

Yours ever
B.P. Grenfell

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P.S. March 13. We have bought some more papyri
came from the new place. S. of the Fayoum,34 and as the natives
are obviously plundering it we are applying for leave to go
and dig there ne in 10 days time.35

1. "Instalments": sc. "of proofs." Henry Frowde would announce the publication of the first volume of the Tebtunis Papyri ("Tebtunis I") on 2 August 1902 (cf. St. James's Gazette of that date, p. 6). The papyrus edited as P.Tebt. 1.61, "Report on the Crops at Kerkeosiris," would be described by the editors (p. 181) as an "important document, which next to the Revenue Papyrus [P. Rev.] is the largest Ptolemaic text that has been discovered."

2. ἡ κεχωρισμένη πρόσοδος, "the separated revenue," would feature in P.Tebt. I's lengthy Appendix 1, "The Land of Kerkeosiris and Its Holders," pp. 569-570. See further A.M.F.W. Verhoogt, Menches, komogrammateus of Kerkeosiris : The Doings and Dealings of a Village Scribe in the Late Ptolemaic Period (120-110 B.C.) (Leiden 1998) 111-112.

3. "Chequered": "Diversified in character; full of constant alternation (esp. for the worse). Esp. in phr. "chequered career " (OED, s.v.).

4. "Frost": "colloq . (orig. Brit.). An unsuccessful or disappointing thing or person; a failure, a flop" (OED, s.v.).

5. Grenfeell and Hunt, "Excavations in the Fayûm," Egypt Exploration Fund: Archeaeological Report (1900-1901)[hereafter "Excavations," 1900-1901], 2-3, which puts a marginally more positive "spin" on the finds, speaks of multiple cemeteries, a mixed (pharaonic and late Roman) one "on the edge of the desert about half-way between Manashinshâneh. . .and Sêla railway station, and somewhat to the south of the 'pyramid' of Sêla, an Old Empire mastaba perched high on a spur of the hills which form the eastern boundary of the province [i.e., the Fayyûm]," and others "in the neighbourhood of Sêla station... [of late Roman and Byzantine] date and equally unproductive." "Englische Ausgrabungen im Faijûm 1900/01," APF 1 (1901) [hereafter "Ausgrabungen 1901"], 181, furnishes additional locative information: "We began our excavations... by looking along the old Bahr Wardân (now being restored) between the Sêla railway station and Rubayyât," adding that the cemeteries near the station were "north-east of Sêla." See further P. Davoli L'archeaologia nel Fayyum di età ellentistca e romana Naples 1998) 165-166 (who seems not to be aware of "Ausgrabungen 1902

6. "We returned to the place ...": "Excavations," 1901-1902 (n. 5) 3, identifies this as "Manashinshâneh"; cf. pp. 1-2 of Letter 68 (and n. 4 in Letter 68). It also describes the tombs as "Roman and Byzantine."

7. For the mummy portraits, cf. M. Bierbrier, "Fayum Cemeteries and Their Portraits," in Portraits and Masks: Burial Customs in Roman Egypt (London 2007), 17. "Etc": "Excavations," 1901-1902 (n. 5) 3, specifies "a quantity of rings, bracelets, and other small ornaments, and a varied assortment of beads, which were often buried in small wooden boxes." Likewise mentioned in the report is "a handsomely decorated stucco mummy," for which see L.H. Corcoran, Portrait Mummies from Roman Egypt (I-IV Centuries A.D.), with a Catalog of Portrait Mummies in Egyptian Museums (Chicago 1995) 194-202 (with Bierbrier, p. 17; see also n. 24 below), as well as a "mummy-tablet... mentioning Tanis in the division of Heraclides, thus confirming our identification of that village with Manashinshâneh" (cf. Letter 68, n. 4). For all of these finds, cf. also K. Muhlestein and B. Jensen, "The Mummy Portraits of Fag el-Gamous," Studia Antiqua12 (2013), 56-62.

8. "Excavations," 1901-1902 (n. 5) 3, refers to "several sporadic papyrus mummies."

9. Grenfell omits the duo's sojourn at Kõm Talīt; cf. "Excavations," 1901-1902 (n. 5) 3. For Kõm al-Khamsīn, see P. Davoli, L'archeologia urbana nel Fayyum di età ellenistica e romana (Naples 1998) 165. (n. 19) 265-266; Grenfell's "west" (in conjunction with the additional information on this page of his letter) provides confirmation for her conclusion in n. 455.

10. "Excavations," 1901-1902 (n. 5) 3-4, adds, "Several mentions occur of the village of Kerkethoëris, which may well be the ancient name of Khamsîn, though the fact that the crocodiles of Kerkeosiris were carried for burial to Tebtunis allows that this is by no means an easy inference." ("Ausgrabungen 1902" [n. 5] 181, proposes the identification with rather less hedging.) Though Grenfell and Hunt's suggestion is widely accepted, Davoli (n. 9) 266, is cautious ("tale ipotesi non è ancora stata pienamente confermata"); cf. also Timm 4.1242. Grenfell and Hunt's own objection in the EEF report is incorrect in assuming that Kerkeosiris was the locus of mummification for the Tebtunis crocodiles; cf. Verhoogt (n. 2) 49. "27": Crocodile 27, for the contents of which see Verhoogt (n. 2) 19 (a list that does not include unpublished papyri

11. Cf. R. Coles's description of these papyri, reported in Verhoogt (n. 2) 13, n. 41: "[M]uch of this material is demotic ... it contains no large rolls." Unsurprisingly, the published accounts of the season omit Grenfell's sentiments about demotic. His attitude may well be observable on P.Tebt. frag. 10,751-10,756, a piece of cartonnage that was scratched to reveal the text underlying the paint and gesso; because demotic was exposed, the object seems to have escaped further attention.

12. Ptolemy IX Soter II's return from exile: 88 BC. "Neos Dionysus": Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos reigned 80-51 BC. In his reference to the "Tebtunis ones," Grenfell must be thinking only of the "Menches" lot of the crocodile papyri, which was used by the embalmers shortly after 91 (cf. Verhoogt [n. 2] 49). At this advanced date (cf. n. 1) he was certainly aware of the later first-century texts (Verhoogt's "Batch 1"; pp. 17-18); cf. IE TCD MS 4323, no. 71 (27 July 1901). Note that "Excavations," 1901-1902 (n. 5) 3, indicates that the Khamsīn crocodile papyri "do not overlap the bulk of the crocodile papyri of Tebtunis" (my emphasis).

13. The Khamsin cartonnage from 1900 has not been located among the Tebtunis papyri in Berkeley and is probably still in Oxford.

14. Excavations," 1901-1902 (n. 5) 4, seems to exaggerate these finds, indicating that a "considerable quantity of papyrus cartonnage was ... obtained." It attributes "the usual damage to the mummies" to plundering in Antiquity, yet the large pit graves that Grenfell and Hunt were excavating suggest secondary burials; mummies interred in such might be expected to be "knocked about." "Ausgrabungen 1902" (n. 5) 182, adds, "The unplundered Ptolemaic tombs had nearly all been opened by us in 1900."

15. Grenfell seems to be using "necropolis" here for the whole of al-Lāhūn, presumably on account of the locale's association with the pyramid of Senusret II. For Petrie's early excavations at the site (spring 1889, then 1889/1890), see W.M.F. Petrie, Kahun, Gurob, and Hawara (London 1890), and Illahun, Kahun, and Gurob 1889-90 (London 1891); he would return to it in later years (cf. http://www.ucl.ac.uk/museums-static/digitalegypt/ archaeology/petriedigsindex.html, accessed 21 November 2016). Grenfell' s math is slightly amiss, and his critical tone in this portion of the letter is interesting in light of the high regard in which he seems to have held his mentor Petrie just a few years earlier; see T.M. Hickey and J.G.Keenan "At the Creation: Seven Letters from Grenfell, 1897," AnalPap 28 (2016) 351-382, letter no. IV.

16. After excavating the crocodile cemetery, Grenfell and Hunt would turn their attention to these Ptolemaic tombs. "Excavations," 1901-1902 (n. 5) 4, indicates that they "had been extensively dug on behalf of the Museum in 1900 [cf. p. 4 of letter 1]. The tombs fell into two divisions, a later group ["2nd cent" above] on the south slopes of the hill on which was built the temple of Kahûn, and an earlier one ["3rd cent" above] on an adjacent rise to the west. In the former cartonnage was fairly frequent, but in all cases had been ruined by damp; from the latter however we succeeded in extracting a number of papyrus mummies, though here too the proximity of the cultivation had had in many cases an injurious effect upon their state of preservation." "Ausgrabungen 1902" (n. 5) 182, presents a discrepant account; it makes no mention of losses due to damp and echoes Grenfell's letter in its attribution of disappointing results to Egyptian activity: "These [tombs] had to a large extent been dug by natives, but one group had escaped and the cartonnage of most of the mummies was composed of papyrus." Though the 1900 Museum excavation had been overseen by a "native" inspector, it seems likely that both the letter and "Ausgrabungen 1902" are referring to illicit digging. Grenfell may, however, be lumping all non-Western activity at the site together.

17. "Ausgrabungen 1902" (n. 5) 182, indicates that the crocodile cemetery had been discovered "last summer" and occupied "low ground 1/2 mile north of the pyramid." Cf. W.M.F. Petrie, G. Brunton, and M.A. Murray, Lahun II (London 1923) 39, where the cemetery is described as "[a] mile or so north of the pyramid in a wide flat part of the desert." See also n. 24.

18. Cf. "Excavations," 1901-1902 (n. 3) 4. No papyri or ostraka were discovered during the later examination of the cemetery documented in Petrie, Brunton, and Murray (n. 17); the amphorae uncovered were associated with the second century AD.

19. "Excavations," 1901-1902 (n. 5) 4, states, "[C]rocodiles of the earlier type [i.e., Ptolemaic ones] produced no papyri."

20. "Tombs" likely indicates that Grenfell is referring to Petrie 's "crocodile tomb- chapels," for which see Kahun, Gurob, and Hawara (n. 15) 17-18, as well as W.M.F. Petrie, Hawara, Biahmu, and Arsinoe (London 1889) 10 ("on the north-east of the cemetery, out in the desert"). The latter volume, however, also mentions "great quantities of crocodiles buried in the chips east and south-east of the pyramid, suggesting that this was the quarter for the crocodile burial" (p. 6). For crocodile burials at Hawara, see further I. Uytterhoeven, Hawara in the Graeco-Roman Period: Life and Death in a Fayum Village (Leuven 2009) 23, 25, 27, 30, 477-479.

21. In the event, Grenfell and Hunt would not make it to Hawara but would instead go to al-Hïbah; cf. Grenfell's postscript to this letter.

22. "Before April 28": In IE TCD MS 4323, no. 45, a postcard to Smyly dated 26 April 1902, Grenfell indicates that he has just returned to Oxford. For the publication date of P.Tebt. I, see n. 1.

23. "Coronation": of Edward VII (9 August 1902). See recently J. Ridley, The Heir Apparent : A Life of Edward VII, the Playboy Prince (New York 2013).

24. The exhibition would take place and would run at University College (hence Grenfell's "in town") from 1 through 26 July. A short catalogue was published: W.M.F. Petrie et al., Catalogue of Egyptian Antiquities, Found by Prof. Flinders Petrie at Abydos, and Drs. Grenfell and Hunt in the Fayum, ( Egypt Exploration Fund), and Drawings from the Temple of the Kings ( Sety I), (Egyptian Research Account) (London 1902). Among the finds on display was this novelty: a "number of inscribed reeds, with directions to the mummifier regarding the measurements of the mummies," found in a first-century AD "crocodile tomb" at al-Lāhūn (p. 7); cf. also "Excavations," 1901-1902 (n. 5) 4. The "handsomely decorated stucco mummy" from "Manashinshâneh" (n. 7) is also mentioned but attributed (as are all the other finds from that site) to Sīlah (p. 8). Representing the discoveries of the 1900/1901 season (cf. letter 1 above) was "a small hoard of Alexandrian bronze found at Dimeh" (p. 9).

25. Cf. P. Jouguet and G. Lefebvre, "Papyrus de Magdôla," BCH 26 (1902) 95-128, and "Papyrus de Magdôla, 2e série," BCH 27 (1903) 174-205.

26. Jouguet was excavating the modem Medīnet Nahas. Google Maps (consulted 23 November 2016) puts the walking distance between it and Köm al-Khamsīn at 7.1 km; the walking time, 1 hour, 25 minutes.

27. Their "German rival" was Otto Rubensohn, on whom see J. Kuckertz, "Otto Rubensohn (1867-1964)," in Hermae: Scholars and Scholarship in Papyrology 3 (Pisa 2013)41-56.

28. Cf. Kuckertz (n. 27) 46, "Im Sinne des Ziels der Grabung, der Gewinnung von Papyri, war Theadelphia [Grenfell's "Harît"] allerdings recht enttäuschend, deshalb wurde das Lager nach Abu Hamid verlegt, wo man sowohl im dortigen Friedhof als auch in Siedlungsbereichen arbeitete." After two weeks, Rubensohn would then shift his attention to Tebtunis. See further his own account of the season, O. Rubensohn, "Aus griechisch-römischen Häusern des Fayum," JDAI 20 (1905) 1-25, wherein it is noted, "An beiden Orten [Theadelphia and Tebtunis] folgten wir den Spuren Grenfells und Hunts" (p. 1, n. 2), and reference is made to "[eine freundliche] Mitteilung Grenfells" (p. 19).

29. The "new place" was al-Hībah (see also the postscript to this letter); P.Hib. I would appear in 1906. Grenfell's "for some years yet" is contradicted by "Excavations," 1901- 1902 (n. 5) 5, "[I]t is proposed to issue a first instalment of the Hîbeh collection in 1903" (this is expressed as a "hope" in "Ausgrabungen 1902," [n. 5] 183). For the purchases that Grenfell mentions, cf. P.Hib. I, p. xv, which dates them to February and March.

30. "P.P. III" is P.Petr. III, which would appear in 1905. The volume was "edited ostensibly in collaboration with Mahaffy, but in reality very largely by Smyly himself" (B.C. McGing, "SMYLY, Josiah Gilbart (1867-1958): in The Dictionary of British Classicisists 3 (Bristol 204) 907))

31. For the editiones principes of Jougueťs papyri, see n. 25; Grenfell's assessment of Jouguet, Letter 68 n. 20

32. Also called the khamsin. Grenfell refers to this hot, dusty wind by its Italian name (sirocco).

33. For Grenfell's honorary Litt. D. from Trinity, cf. Dublin Daily Nation , 29 June 1900, p. 3 ("B. T. Grenfell" [sic]); the "Rev Prof Mahaffy, S[enior] F[ellow]" is listed (first) among the Fellows who were present. Hunt would not receive the same honor until 1909; cf. Dublin Daily Express, 1 July 1909, pp. 5-6, which includes a translation of the Latin oration made on the occasion. At the time of Grenfell's letter, Königsberg was the academic home of the juristic papyrologist Otto Gradenwitz (1860-1935), who was first and foremost a legal historian; see further M. Kaser, "Otto Gradenwitz," in Neue deutsche Biographie (Berlin 1964) 6:702-703. Smyly could have already known about the Königsberg degrees since they had been announced in the Irish press; cf. Freeman's Journal, 24 January 1902 ("for great services rendered by them in the field of Egyptian research").

34. See n. 29

35. According to P.Hib. I, p. xv, the al-Hībah excavation began on 24 March, i.e., 12 days after Grenfell/s letter is dated.

Cite this page: Center for the Tebtunis Papyri. Document 42. History of Papyrology. https://histpap.info/letters/42/.