Report on the Papyri in the Season 1926-1927

May 9, 1927

I have already reported generally on my Egyptian tour and the various purchases made in the MISSING of it. Detailed examination of the papyri shows that on the whole they are of better quality and greater interest than I feared when examining them in Egypt. Among them were some rolls and boxes of fragments which owing to their brittle condition it was impossible to examine properly until they have been damped and flattened, and these it was necessary to buy more or less on trust. Most of them have proved disappointing, but speaking generally it may be stated that the opportunity to inspect papyri before purchasing and to select only those which seemed likely to possess some individual value has made it possible to acquire the present collection both more cheaply and with a smaller intermixture of rubbish than in previous years.

For purposes of description I have divided the papyri into three lots. The first consists of the Kondilios papyri, the residue of the collection purchased in 1925 by Michigan, Columbia, and the British Museum jointly and consisting largely of Zeno papyri. These were acquired merely to complete that purchase and in the hope that some of the fragments belonged to papyri previously bought. For this reason, and because it is undesirable to disperse the Zeno archive more widely than has already been done, it is not proposed to put these papyri into the general distribution, and I have reported on them separately to Michigan and Columbia.

The second lot consists of (1) the papyri bought by me in Upper Egypt, (2) a number of papyri bought by Dr. Askren at various times before my arrival in Egypt or during my absence at Thebes, (3) the papyri bought by me at Cairo of dealers other than Nahman, (4) several lots bought after my departure by Dr. Askren, Prof. kelsey, and Prof. Westermann.

The third lot consists of the papyri bought by Prof. Westermann and myself from Nahman. These were acquired in one lot but consist of very various papyri purchased by Nahman at different times and of different vendors. Some had arrived recently; others were selected by me from boxes of fragments which had apparently been in stock for a long time.

The descriptions of the papyri included in lot II do not include a number of Coptic, Arabic, and Demotic papyri, to the value of £E9, which were handed over by me in Cairo to Prof. Kelsey for the University of Michigan and paid for by him on the spot, the money being added to the funds at my disposal for purchase. The Coptic, Arabic, and Demotic texts inventoried below were paid for out of the general fund. I regret that, owing to the necessity of hurriedly repacking all the papyri at the last moment, the boxes in which they had been placed proving too large for the case, these bought at Miniah appear to have been mixed with those from Akhmim, so that I am unable to distinguish these purchases.

As usual, the literary fragments have been examined by Mr. Milne.


H. I. Bell
British Museum

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