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London, British Museum

The British Museum [BM]
Great Russell Street
London WC1B 3DG
UK - England

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More information about this collection.

Stable URI (with TM Coll ID): www.trismegistos.org/collection/193

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- Cat., number 1076 [check]
- Coins, number 1989.10.29
- EA [= Egyptian Antiquities], numbers from 19 till 203773
- EA, without number 09 till 85 [numbering from Kaplony-Heckel, or actually from the BM?]
- Eg. Dept., numbers such as 1857-1-8: 9 [old registration numbers: year, month, day, serial number]
- Greek and Roman Dept., number 1906.10-20.2 [wood]
- Salt, number 955, 6
- Vindolanda, numbers such as 85.137


Papyri, and some linen and leather in AES are glazed between two sheets of glass; ostraca, tablets, most linen and leather, and incantation bowls are housed in drawer cabinets.


Most texts are inventoried and all records (with images, where they exist) are now available via the Museum's Collections on-line data base : http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/search_the_collection_database.aspx


For a checklist of pharaonic papyri in hieroglyphic and hieratic script, see R. Parkinson and S. Quirke, Papyrus (1995), 91-94. Editions of demotic and Coptic texts include P.Brit.Mus. I-V, P.Brit.Mus.Reich, O.BritMus.Copt. I and II; most of O.Crum and P.Sarga; and some of P.Mon.Apoll., O.CrumST, O.CrumVC. For Aramaic, Mandaic and Pahlavi texts, see J. B. Segal, Catalogue of the Aramaic and Mandaic Incantation Bowls in the British Museum (2000) and D. Weber, Ostraca, Papyri und Pergamente: Textband, Corpus Inscriptionum Iranicarum 3.4-5 (1992)




As a result of the British Library Act 1972, most Greek papyri and ostraca and Coptic papyri went to the British Library Department of Manuscripts (Greek) and Department of Oriental Manuscripts and Printed Books (Coptic). Coptic papyri in the British Museum also became the property of the British Library Board, whereas Coptic (ans some Greek) ostraca are still kept in the Ancient Egypt and Sudan Department of the British Museum. The British Museum collections contain c. 3000 frames of papyri, 8000 ostraca, and 150 incantation bowls. The great majority of these objects, and hundreds of inscribed tablets, pieces of linen and leather are in the Ancient Egypt and Sudan Department (AES). Almost all texts in this collection are written in Egyptian scripts (papyri: c. 700 in hieroglyphic script; 1275 in hieratic script; 700 in demotic script and 230 in Coptic; ostraca: c. 70 in hieroglyphic script; 835 in hieratic, 2595 in demotic; and 4040 in Coptic). Greek texts are limited to 12 papyri and 67 Greek texts on ostraca appear in association with demotic or Coptic documents. The Department of the Middle East contains over 200 ostraca (191 Pahlavi, 17 Hebrew and 3 Aramaic) and 150 incantation bowls from Mesopotamia bearing inked inscriptions (in Jewish Aramaic, Syriac, Mandaic, Pahlavi, Arabic and pseudo-script). A handful of ostraca are in the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities (6 Greek, 2 Latin).

The Michaelides collection : Funerary linen items bearing inscriptions in abnormal hieratic, demotic an hieroglyphic scripts, but also in Greek and Arabic, were acquired by the Department of Egyptian Antiquities (now Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan), cf. E.Vassilika, Museum Acquisitions 1991, Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 79 (1993), pp.238-239 nos. 24, 25, 37 and 46; other Michaelides items are found ibidem sub nos.14, 26 and 40. The Department of Western Asiatic Antiquities (now Department of Middle East) acquired Michaelides items bearing Aramaic inscriptions, including bowls and mummy tickets (information due to B.Porten).