Overview of the database fields

Identification Number (ID)
The only purpose of this number is to allow easy quotation of the database in scientific literature. I propose to refer to it as LDAB 0001: L(euven) D(atabase of) A(ncient) B(ooks) + number. LDAB 1 - 7096 are ordered by a sorting programma, first by author name, then by date, then by inventory number. Starting from LDAB 7097 new items are simply added to the list by order of entering. From LDAB 10898 onwards, the LDAB number is identical to the Trismegistos number. In January 2018 the database contained information on 16,273 items.

For papyri the first reference is to the standard edition of the texts (e.g. P. Oxy); for parchment manuscripts it is to the standard catalogues, such as CLA (codices latini antiquiores), CLLA (codices latini liturgici antiquiores) or to museum catalogues, e.g. Wright, Catalogue of Syriac manuscripts in the British Museum.

In this section a reference is given to the three basic repertories by R.A. Pack (now in the CEDOPAL database of Liège), J. Van Haelst and M. Gigante. The database is not meant as a replacement of these excellent repertories, but draws heavily upon them in order to complete the source material and render it more easily available. It is only a first attempt and I know better than anyone else the many flaws it presents. I hope that colleagues will send me their remarks, which will then be integrated. No attempt is made to cover a full bibliography : my interest is in the manuscripts, not in Greek literature.

(1) Pack = R.A. Pack, The Greek and Latin Literary Texts from Greco-Roman Egypt, Ann Arbor 1965 (available on-line:

(2) Van Haelst = J. Van Haelst, Catalogue des papyrus littéraires juifs et chrétiens, Paris 1976.

All items in Van Haelst have been included except those dated to the ninth century and later.

Since our interest is in books from Antiquity and not just in papyrological finds, we have also included all manuscripts dated before the ninth century A.D., not only "papyrological texts", i.e. texts found in excavations. Therefore I have included texts such as the great Biblical manuscripts (Vaticanus, Alexandrinus, Sinaiticus), which are found e.g. in the list of manuscripts of Aland and in Rahlfs for the Old Testament, and also all Latin manuscripts in Lowe, Codices Latini antiquiores. In these cases no reference is given to the "edition" but merely to the reference-works.

(3) Gigante = M. Gigante, Catalogo dei Papiri Ercolanesi, Napoli 1979.
Those who want to search the whole database of the Herculaneum papyri in more detail should go to:

Here we have only included those fragments from Herculaneum which have been published or for which an identification has been proposed. Gigante's catalogue contains 1826 items, our database has only 256 items, but we have grouped fragments of a single roll which are listed separately by Gigante (e.g. Gigante 0908 + 1390 = LDAB 841).

All names are transcribed in the Latin alphabet (thus Homerus and Aeschylus, not Homer, Homeros or Aischulos). For searching purposes we have included the following items under "authorname": New Testament, Old Testament, Anthologia Palatina, Acta Alexandrinorum. If one is interested in all papyrological evidence for a certain author, one should also consult the field "quotation".

Here we give the book titles and, where possible, also the number of the book and the chapters. When ancient works consist of several "books" the book(s) to which a fragment belongs is indicated by a zero-figure preceding (e.g. Ilias 07, 022). For the larger manuscripts, containing the whole Iliad or the whole Aeneid, it was not possible to mark every book separately. In case where the author and work are unknown a general description is given here, such as "Alexandrian epic on Hercules, writing exercice, hexameter, magical papyrus, medicine, apocryphon". No consistency has yet been achieved here. When the title of a work is preserved in the papyrus, this is noted as much as possible by adding "with title". A search for book titles can therefore be done in this field.

This file lists quotations of other authors in the text at hand. We have not included references to the basic work in commentaries on that work (e.g. references to the New Testament in a commentary on a Gospel by Didymus the Blind or references to Epicurus in a commentary on that philosopher by Philodemus). This entry is in fact very selective and mainly intended as a substitute for the file "author" when the author himself is unknown.

First the country is given: for papyri, this is usually Egypt. If one wants to establish the situation within Egypt, "Egypt" should be typed in this field. For Epicurus, for instance, the database gives 27 instances, but only three of them come from Egypt, the rest is from Herculaneum. Herculaneum also distorts the picture for the first century B.C. Next comes the town or village. For the Fayum the name of the area (Fayum) is added between "Egypt" and the village name, so that searches in the Arsinoite nome as a whole are possible.

Most texts are only dated by century and searching can be done only by century too. When a more precise date is known, it is indicated separately in the field 'date', but this field is not searchable. When a text cannot be dated to one century we give two possibilities: AD01 - AD02 [note that there is no space between AD or BC and the number]. "Roman period" becomes AD01 - AD02 - AD03, "Byzantine period" AD04 - AD05 - AD06. In the statistics of part two these are calculated as a half or a third.

The most common materials are:
- papyrus: with the subdivisions "cartonnage", which is interesting for the early period, and "book bindings", which is interesting for the later period.
- parchment
- pottery: i.e. ostraca or limestone
- wood, with the subdivision waxed tablet

Number of columns
This lists the number of preserved columns, not the column numbers on the manuscript itself. In principle we have counted only the highest number of consecutive columns in the best preserved fragment of a text, but where well-preserved papyri have been numbered through by the editors even if one or even more columns were missing, we have simply followed their numbering. For codices the data in the list of E.G.Turner, The Typology of the Early Codex, 1977, pp.102-185 have been incorporated.

Many codices and a few rolls have page or column numbers. This field lists the highest number that is found for a particular codex or roll. For medieval codices it is often unclear whether the pagination is original or added at a later stage.

This field is usually empty. Most rolls and sheets are written only on the recto side. Codices are by definition written on both sides, and nothing has been entered here. When the text is a roll, there are three possibilities:
- field is empty: the roll is written only on the recto side.
- "on the recto; on the back . . .": the literary text is written on the recto, and another, literary or documentary, text is on the verso.
- "on the verso of . . .": the literary text is written on the verso of another text, literary or documentary.

In the case of a roll "recto" is the side where the fibres run parallel with the length of the roll and perpendicular to the kolleseis, "verso" is the side where the direction of the fibres is perpendicular to the length of the roll. In the case of a roll, we use the term opisthograph only when the text of the recto continues on the verso. We try to give her the most elementary information for the text on the other side, usually by referring to the corresponding LDAB number.

When the text is a codex, the field remains empty.

When the text is on a sheet written on both sides, it is marked as opisthograph.

There are four possibilities:
- roll: two criteria have led us to classify a text as a roll:
(1) there are remains of more than one column or the text consists of several fragments, and the back is blank or does not belong to the same text.
(2) the editor says explicitly that the text is part of a roll. When remains of only one column are preserved, "roll" is sometimes accompanied by a question mark. Editors rarely give reasons for marking a fragment as part of a roll, but they presumably base this on the hand when this is clearly literary. Editors do not all follow the same practice in this matter. Often this issue is not discussed at all for minor fragments, so that we cannot be certain if the fragment is part of a roll or part of a sheet.

- codex: the text continues on the back. Whenever possible we give the number of sheets (folios) preserved and also indicate reuse as fly-leaves and in bindings. This field also notes if it is a "miniature codex".

- sheet: the text is not part of a roll nor of a codex, but was meant to be a single sheet. Ostraca are always called "sheets", wooden tablets can be either "sheets" (a single tablet) or codices (when the tablet was originally part of a group, which follows from the existence of holes), parchments are codices, sheets or, rarely, rolls, papyri are rolls, codices or sheets.

- fragment: the text (or the editor) does not provide enough information to classify the fragment with certainty as a roll or a sheet.

More work is needed here, because some editors are more reticent than others to call a fragment part of a roll. Pack explicitly marks codices as such, but never indicates if a text belongs to a roll. Some editors consider every fragment of a larger work as a roll, when the verso is blank and the text is written in a literary hand. We have followed them when they say so, but we have not always ourselves applied this argument when the editor does not make a choice. For that reason there are still a large number of "fragments" which could also be classified as "rolls". There is a lot of inconsistency here. In this section it is mentioned when a text is a palimpsest and if the writing is primary or secundary.

Studies paleogr. codicol.
Here we give references to studies specifically devoted to questions of deciphering, dating and the physical make-up of the book. When our dating differs from the one in the (standard) edition, this is usually based on a study listed here. For palimpsests a reference is given here to the earlier or later texts on the manuscript.

Studies literature
Here we refer to studies devoted to the literary aspects of a text. We have not systematically entered this kind of information, only the most recent literature we happened to notice. It is not our intention to make the database into a bibliographical tool for the study of ancient literature : our work is directed to the study of ancient books.

We have included the following repertories, which helped us to update Pack and Van Haelst:

- CPP = Corpus of Paraliterary Papyri (M. Huys)

 This corpus is now linked with the LDAB; when a text is also included in the CPP database, a link to the CPP records will appear in the field 'Catalogue' of the online LDAB [the catalogue is no longer updated after the death of M. Huys in 2010 and is for the moment not available online].

- F. Uebel, "Literarische Texte unter Ausschluss der christlichen", in: Archiv für Papyrusforschung 21-24

- K. Treu, "Christliche Papyri", in: Archiv für Papyrusforschung 19-36

- R. Cribiore, Writing, Teachers and Students in Graeco-Roman Egypt. American Studies in Papyrology 36, 1996.

- Nestlé-Aland = K. Aland, Kurzgefasste Liste der griechischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments. Zweite, neugearbeitete und ergänzte Auflage, bearbeitet von K. Aland, in Verbindung mit M. Welte, B. Köster und K. Junack, Arbeiten zur Neutestamentlichen Textforschung 1, Berlin-New-York 1994.

- K. Aland, Repertorium der griechischen christlichen Papyri II. Kirchenväter - Papyri. Teil 1. Beschreibungen, Berlin - New York 1995

- Rahlfs-Fraenkel = A. Rahlfs- D.Fränkel, Verzeichnis der griechischen Handschriften des Alten Testaments 1/1: Die Überlieferung bis zum VIII. Jahrhundert, 2004

- Allen-Sutton-West: This refers to D. H. Sutton, Homer in the Papyri, s.d. (see now [this link does no longer work], to M.L. West, Studies in the Text and Transmission of the Iliad, München-Leipzig 2001, pp. 86-138 and M.L. West, Homerus, Odyssea (BSGRT), 2017, pp. xxvii-xlv.

- R. Gryson, Altlateinische Handschriften I, Freiburg 1999

- List of Old Testament Peshitta Manuscripts, ed. by The Peshitta Institute, Leiden 1961

- Marganne, Inventaire = M.-H. Marganne, Inventaire analytique des papyrus grecs de médecine (Publications du Centre de Recherches d'Histoire et de Philologie de la IVe Section de l'École pratique des Hautes Études (Hautes Études du monde gréco-romain) III 12, 1981

For Qumran texts e.g. 4Q222, we follow the list of E. Tov, Revised lists of the texts from the Judaean Desert, 2010.

Text type
Here we have tried to give information on the purpose for which the text was originally written. The main possibilities are the following:

- amulet : text was meant to be used for magical protection
- anthology
- epitome
- illustrated : text with illustrations
- liturgy : text was meant for liturgical use
- school text : on the whole we have followed the identifications by Cribiore, i.e. when a text has been included in Cribiore (see "repertories") it is identified here as a school text
- sillybos
- stage directions

Three alternatives are used here: "literature", "science" and "religion".

- literature:
The text is meant to be read by a reading public, not in the first place for practical purposes. Thus the Old and the New Testaments, when in book form, are literature, and so are medical and grammatical books. But if the text is meant to be used in school or in the liturgy of the church or for magical purposes, then it becomes "science" or "religion". On the whole, we have assumed that texts are "literature", unless there are clear indications to the contrary. A double identity is also possible (e.g. literature and science for commentaries and scholia, literature and religion for lectionaria). Here as elsewhere we have followed the lead of the editors and the repertories.

- science:
Science is everything which can be classified as medicine (for inclusion and exclusion we have simply followed Marganne-Mertens), philology, mathematics (including school exercices), astronomy, geography etc. All school texts (e.g. all texts listed by Cribiore) are listed as "science", because their purpose is instruction, not reading. Note that a text can easily be literature and science, e.g. a school text of Homer, a copy of Homer with scholia, a medical treatise etc.

- religion:
All writing intended for use in religious ceremonies is included here, e.g. liturgical texts, magic, prayer books. Note that a copy of the Old or New Testament, when part of a book, is classified as "literature", but a copy of Psalm 90 used as an amulet belongs to "religion".

This section gives a rough subdivision of the preceding one. Thus "literature" is divided in "poetry" and "prose". Each of these is further subdivided in the traditional genres, such as "epic, lyric, comedy, tragedy" for poetry, and "history, philosophy, novel, oratory, wisdom" for prose. The subdivisions are not clear-cut and often overlap, but they can be useful to study the different genres and subgenres over the centuries.
Subdivisions of "science" are e.g. astronomy, grammar, mathematics, medicine, philology, tachygraphy etc. In many instances "science" and "literature" are combined, e.g. an edition of Callimachus ("literature, lyric") with scholia ("science, philology, scholia").
Subdivisions of "religion" are e.g. prayer, magic, theology.

Texts from "literature" or "religion" are subidived here according to their religious background. The main purpose is to make a division between "pagan" (here called "classical") and "christian" literature, and in this sense the sections to a large extent coincide with the catalogues of Gigante and Pack (except for the scientific works) on the one side, and Van Haelst on the other.

- classical: here are included texts dealing with classical mythology (e.g. Homer) and history
- christian
- jewish
- gnostic
- manichaean

Nearly 10,000 texts are written in Greek, some 2,000 are in Latin, nearly 2,000 are Coptic, 800 Syriac, 700 Demotic and less than 100 Arabic (mostly Korans). Under this heading are also found "bilingual" texts (e.g. Greek and Latin, Greek and Coptic) and palimpsests where the older or the newer text is in a different language.

City names are in English, but names of institutions are in the original language. Thus we write Florence, Vienna, but Staatsbibliothek, Papyrologisch Instituut etc.

We usually give the editio princeps and/or the standard edition one would use nowadays. Later editions of the same text are listed far less systematically.

For Latin manuscripts the reference is to CLA, where further bibliography can be found. As far as possible we have given the names of the editors. It comes as no surprise that Grenfell and Hunt still dominate the field of Greek literary papyri, even at the end of the 20th century.

The information given here is still rather haphazard and will be updated later. We have incorporated, however, most of the classic anthologies, such as:
W. Schubart, Papyri Graecae Berolinenses 1911;
E.G. Turner - P.J. Parsons, Greek Manuscripts of the Ancient World 1987;
Cavallo - Maehler, Greek Bookhands of the Early Byzantine Period 1987;
M. Norsa, La scrittura Letteraria Greca 1939;
C.H. Roberts, Greek Literary Hands 1956;
R. Seider, Paläographie der griechischen Papyri 1967-1970;
Lowe, Codices Latini Antiquiores;
Hatch, Monumenta Palaeographica Vetera.

Here we note if a text belongs to a known archive. This information is only available for a small percentage of the literary papyri.

For early medieval manuscripts we have indicated the libraries to  which they once belonged. For Latin texts we found this information in CLA, but it is also important for Greek, Coptic and Syriac texts, with the great libraries of St. Catherine (Sinai) or Mary at Deipara (Wadi Natrun).

Here the user finds a link to an existing plate (or sometimes description) in the institution who holds the papyri. On 30 July 2010 2,300 texts (17 %) could be consulted online, in February 2014 the number has risen to 3466 and in January 2018 to 3565.


Willy Clarysse
July 22, 1998; Revised: January 1, 2018