What do papyrologists do?

When the work of the conservator is done, the papyrologist can get to work.  Their task is to decipher what is on the papyrus.  This is not as simple as it seems, because texts on papyrus documents are written in a variety of handwritings and languages, including Egyptian (in its different scripts), Aramaic, ancient Greek, Latin, and Arabic.  Papyrologists often specialize in one or more languages and in either literary or documentary texts.

Original Papyrus

This papyrus preserves the beginning of an edict from the Roman official Gaius Valerius Eudaimon.  It is directed against people who are making anonymous accusations of some kind.


P.Mich.inv. 4694a (P.Mich. IX 522)


A first transcript of the papyrus, made by Orsamus Pearl (1908-1992).  It shows the papyrologist at work: the words in black ink represent his readings of the traces on the papyrus, while the notations in pencil show his suggestions to fill in the missing parts of the text.


A First Transcript Of P.Mich. Inv. 4964a.

How do you conserve a papyrus?

How do papyrologists communicate their findings?