Berkeley, Bancroft Library
|Name:||Berkeley, Bancroft Library|
|Country:||United States of America|
University of California
Rare Books Department
|Highlights:||The main attraction of the collection are Ptolemaic administrative documents. Noteworthy are here especially the long registers detailing the state of affairs of the land use of Kerkeosiris (and a few of Magdola) at the end of the second century BC. Examples are P.Tebt. 61 (a) and (b), giving an overview of all administrative categories of land in 118/117 BC; P.Tebt. 1103 is a list of all crown tenants with the extent of their holdings in 116/115 BC. Literary texts in the collection are scarce, but sometimes very important. Here should be mentioned P.Tebt. 268 [ LDAB 0767 ], giving the (to date only) Greek text that underlies the Latin versions of Dictys Cretensis' Bellum Troianum; and P.Tebt. 692 [ LDAB 3955 ], containing one of the few extant fragments of Sophocles' Inachus.|
The precise number of papyri in the Berkeley collection is unknown. To date, some 1150 texts (several of which consist of multiple fragments) have been published in one of the volumes of The Tebtunis Papyri (I-IV). There remain more than 21,000 fragments that were photographed and stored in acid-free folders (10 per folder) plus an unknown amount still in tin boxes. In addition to these papyri the collection also comprises some 20 ostraca, all of which were published.
The collection has been a closed collection for a long time, though recently a few ostraca have been purchased. All other papyri and ostraca were found during the excavations at the site of ancient Tebtunis that were carried out for the University of California by Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt in the winter of 1899/1900. (The only papyrus in the collection not from this find is the Hearst Medical Papyrus, a hieratic papyrus roll that was acquired by George Reisner in Egypt.) The papyri came from three sources, each which their own particulars:
1) the remains of the town and temple of Tebtunis; with few exceptions these papyri are from the Roman period, especially the second century AD. Apart from a handful that was written in Latin, all texts were written in Greek.
2) cartonnage of human mummies; these papyri date to the third and second centuries BC and derive from villages in the neighborhood of Tebtunis, notably Oxyrhyncha. About two thirds of these texts was written in Greek, the remainder (all of which unpublished and uncataloged) in Demotic.
3) wrapping of crocodile mummies; these papyri date to the second and first centuries BC and derive from Kerkeosiris, a village some five miles west of Tebtunis. Apart from a dozen texts written in Demotic, all these texts were written in Greek.
Notwithstanding the enormous potential of this collection, it has received little attention from local scholars. Apart from a brief period in the 1970s, when a papyrologist was present in Berkeley, all work on the collection has been done by outsiders. The reason for this was the low priority given to papyrology by the local Classics department. At present attempts are made to create a papyrology position at UC Berkeley.
The little scholarly attention has focussed more upon publication of texts than on cataloging of the collection. A short and rudimentary file card catalog (1750 numbers) was compiled in 1940, but only of the texts that had been published to that date with the addition of some of the larger (and readable) fragments. No catalog exists for the 21,000 fragments in the acid-free folders, let alone for the papyri still in the tin boxes.
Since 1996 work (conservation, cataloging and digitization) has been resumed on the collection in the light of the Advanced Papyrological Information System that was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Information about the papyri (from physical properties to (re)publications and literature about the text) has been entered in a database and made available on the internet. So far work has focussed on the part of the collection that was published. If funding can be found, work will in the future proceed into the uncataloged part of the collection.