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Trinity College Dublin

Centre for Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies

MNES LogoTrinity College Papyrus Digitisation Project

One of the 'treasures' of Trinity College Library is its collection of ancient papyri from Egypt. Papyri provide a vibrant and uniquely important source material for writing social, economic, cultural and religious history. New works of literature, and new texts of already known works, have been discovered, but the vast majority of papyri are what we identify as 'documentary' texts: official business, personal correspondence and papers, forms, receipts, contracts, bills - the unselfconscious record of everyday life. Trinity has an internationally important collection of Greek, and in smaller quantities, Egyptian papyri. They include important literary works and many more documentary texts. Mahaffy, Smiley and McGing, from this university, and Professor Willy Clarysse from Leuven, have published many of the texts, but not all, and much remains to be done with the collection in terms of organisation, re-publication, conservation and accessibility.
Greek papyri are difficult to read, and inaccessible not just to the general public, but even to scholars. Ultimately it is the objective of this project to publish Trinity's papyri online, allowing ready and usable access to scholars, students, and other interested parties, by providing images, transcriptions and translations (where available) and easily searchable data. The vehicle of publication will be the Advanced Papyrological Information System, currently directed from the University of Michigan. APIS is a collections-based repository hosting information about, and images of, papyrological materials located in collections around the world (although primarily North America so far). Its development was made possible by substantial grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. It contains physical descriptions and bibliographic information about the papyri and other written materials, as well as digital images and English translations of many of the texts. The user can move back and forth among text, translation, bibliography, description and image, and conduct many different types of complex searches, making this an exciting and successful resource for international research and teaching.
The plan for the completion of this project has three closely integrated stages, funding for the first of which has been generously donated by the Long Room Hub:

Stage 1. Bring to Dublin for a short period (3-4 days) Dr Rodney Ast and Dr Leyla Lau-Lamb of the University of Michigan for inspection of the resources, and consultation with relevant TCD and Royal Irish Academy personnel. Dr Ast is the chief technical adviser on the APIS project. Dr Lau-Lamb is the chief conservator involved. Public lecture on APIS system.
Funding required: approx €2830. Long Room Hub funding awarded December 2007.

Stage 2. Appointment of MNES Postdoctoral Fellow, 2008. Her/his first brief will be to develop a full project proposal for IRCHSS, or possibly FP7 ICT-2007.4.3: Digital libraries and technology-enhanced learning. She/he will also develop a papyrus-specific research project connected with the collection.
Funding source: PRTLI Postdoctoral Fellow, already assigned to MNES

Stage 3. Appointment of project personnel - papyrologist, conservator, Library assistant; execution of project. Completion 2009-2010.
Funding required: will depend on advice received and worked out in a detailed funding proposal. €200,000-300,000 (?).
Funding source: IRCHSS. Perhaps FP7, or other big funds.

Contact: Pat Carty Last updated: Jan 28 2019.