L. Koenen to R. Dougherty: 7/15/82


Department of Classical Studies
L. Koenen

July 15, 1982


Dr. R.M. Dougherty
Director, University Library


Acquisition of Papyri


Letter of Sept. 1st, 1981


Dear Dr. Dougherty,

Enclosed is a xerox of my report on the purchases of papyri I made with the funds of doll. 16,500 which you provided for this purpose by your letter of September 1st, 1981. Because of the fluctuation of the dollar rates in the course of the last six months I spent doll. 35,51 more than I had available.

I am delighted and much satisfied by the new acquisitions, though I did not succeed in acquiring a group of almost sensational literary papyri (part of a lost Socratic dialogue presumably by Aischines; 2 almost complete columns from the anapaests of an unknown comedy probably by Aristophanes; 2 columns from an anonymous history of Alexander and the diadochs etc.) which had been offered to me by Mr. M. Facklemann of Irenethal (close to Vienna); this lot was bought by the University of Cologne for about doll. 40.000. The papyri I bought are of a comparable value, and, after long negotiations, I got them at a much lower price. I shall now see to it that they will be published by our graduate students though I reserved one document of unusual historical interest for myself. Until now I preferred to work on papyri and parchments belonging to the University of Cologne and the Egyptian Museum at Cairo. Also my students had frequently to study papyri belonging to other institutions in Cairo and Europe. In this regard the new acquisitions will be a turning point in our scholarly activities.

In light of my recent experiences I may add a few notes and inform you of another group of papyri which has been offered to me.

The papyrus market in Cairo is almost dried up though one of the dealers is said to sit on an exceptional literary papyrus; I could not reach him during the three weeks I was in Cairo. Available is only cartonage from mummies. Buying such cartonage is a gamble; the buyer cannot see what is inside the layers covered by plaster and paintings. It turned out that the head I bought consisted of only two layers of papyri which yielded unfortunately small and incomplete fragments, partly even without writing. Hence the head was not worth the money I had to spend for it. Fortunately, however, I had included three other pieces of cartonage in the same deal, and they yielded a reasonable amount of publishable documents, so that we did not lose money on this purchase. Nevertheless, if I had seen the papyri before buying the cartonage, I would not have selected them. On the other hand, some of the most important literary papyri which came to light during the last ten years including the group which I reported above as being recently bought by cologne came from mummies found at the same cemetary as the cartonage I bought. Only by buying large amounts of cartonage we would have a reasonable chance to find such exceptional pieces. Or one might purchase good and selected pieces from Mr. Facklemann (as, in fact, I did in the case of five papyri) who has bought the cartonage from the same source. As in this case the risk is with Mr. Fackelmann, such pieces are much more expensive than the cartonage.

Among Mr. Fackelmann's papyri is a group of 13 large and complete Ptolemaic documentary papyri, all from one piece of cartonage of the same provenance as the pieces I bought in Cairo and from Mr. Facklemann (19 x 32; 22 x 12; 33 x 10; 19 x 15; 10 x 18; 10 x 30; 11 x 35; 5 x 23; 12 x 20; 8 x 34; 8 x 10; 12 x 20; and 6 x 15 cm.). So far as I could determine all or at least most of these papyri belong to an archive and their content might very well be interrelated. This is a very rare opportunity, and I know that Prof. A. Hanson is interested to buy them for Fordham or Princeton (money is available). I have started negotiations with Mr. Facklemann, and I assume that the final price will be in the area of 10,000.--dollars, which if needed could be paid in two or three installments. If the library is willing and able to finance this additional purchase, I should give a telephone call to Mr. Facklemann. I have taken photographs of the whole lot, and I might show them to you as soon as the prints have been made.

I understand the financial difficulties our university is facing; I feel nevertheless obliged to bring this exceptional opportunity to your attention.

If you would like to see the papyri I bought with your help, please let me know so that I may show them to you.


With cordial thanks and regards

L. Koenen

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