the atrium  
   email us

golden threads
   greek history
   roman history
   social history
   art and arky
   other cultures
   classical tradition
   text recs
   classics profession

the atrium
   this day
   media archive
   golden threads
   latin course
   sosii books
golden threads
petra papyri
Date: Wed, 5 Jan 1994
From: "David N. Wigtil"
Subject: Papyri from church at Petra

I received a copy of this press release from another email group. I'm tantalized, because it seems seems almost certain that the find will provide early greek biblical texts from outside Egypt, assuming they can unroll the dern things. Anyone know more?

This is the full text of the ACOR press release, dated December 22, and transcribed here [another email list] with permission. ACOR - AMERICAN CENTER OF ORIENTAL RESEARCH DISCOVERY OF ANCIENT TEXTS IN PETRA A number of texts of potentially major significance have been uncovered at Petra following two months of excavations in areas immediately adjacent to the Byzantine church. The church excavation of 1992 and 1993 produced spectacular mosaics in the aisles of the church which have been widely reported. The current excavation is being conducted in areas flanking the basilica in advance of a protective shelter to be built over the site. the ACOR Petra Project includes archaeological excavation, the conservation of the recovered mosaics and the construction of a protective shelter over the site. Excavations at Petra are currently being conducted by the American Center of Oriental Research (ACOR) in cooperation with the Department of Antiquities with the purpose of enhancing and broadening the touristic attraction of Petra. ACOR is supported in the endeavor by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in Jordan. ACOR's Petra Project in financed under a grant by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Amman. ACOR Director Dr. Pierre M. Bikai became the overall director of the Petra Project in May 1992 when the project director, Dr. Kenneth W. Russell, died tragically just as the excavation was to begin. Dr. Russell had previously conducted archaeological excavations at Petra and discovered and recorded the site in 1990. Fieldwork is being led by Dr. Zbigniew Fiema, chief archaeologist in charge of excavations, with the assistance of Mr. Suleiman Farajat of the Department of Antiquities. The texts were excavated with the expert guidance and assistance of archaeological conservator Catherine Valentour, formerly of the Smithsonian Institution, and with the assistance of staff archaeologist Deborah Kooring. The texts are in the form of papyrus scrolls which originally measured some 30 cm long and perhaps some 5-8 cm in diameter. The preservation of the scrolls cannot be compared to that of the famous Qumran scrolls. While the latter were well-preserved, the Petra scrolls were carbonized in a fire which destroyed the superstructure of the adjacent church and affected the area of the building complex where the scrolls were kept. The scrolls were found crushed under and between the charcoal remains of the shelving on which they had apparently been stacked, and beneath nearly four meters of stone from the superstructure of the building. This building, like the church, collapsed in a earthquake, perhaps that which affected Petra in AD. 551. Because of their flattened and carbonized condition, the number of scrolls has yet to be determined. It is conservatively estimated that at least forty scrolls may eventually be separated. In addition to the scrolls, carbonized, basketry, copper hinges (or clasps), glass fragments, small bronze chains, and burned wooden disks were recovered from the charcoal matrix. This indicates that the scrolls were originally rolled around a rod fitted with end-caps, and were stored in textile "sleeves" and/or wooden boxes with inlaid glass decoration. Somewhat miraculously, the writing on the carbonized papyrus in still quite legible. Byzantine Greek script has been noted on the majority of fragments, in addition to a cursive script which has yet to be identified. Only when these carbonized papyri are separated, conserved, and carefully unwrapped can the script be identified and understood. Until that time the significance of the texts remains tantalizingly unknown. With the assistance of the Department of Antiquities, ACOR is now in the process of assembling a committee of international experts to undertake this delicate and demanding task. ACOR would like to gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the former Ministers of Tourism and Antiquities, Abdul Karim Kabariti and Yanal Hikmat, of the present Minister Mohammed Affash Al-Udwan, of the Secretary General of the Ministry of Tourism, Nasri Atallah, and of the Director General of the Department of Antiquities, Dr. Safwan Tell.
Date: Wed, 5 Jan 1994
From: "James G. Keenan"
Subject: Re: Papyri from church at Petra

Ludwig Koenen (Michigan) left for Amman a few days ago; he will be the first papyrologist to have a look and to give technical advice on the unrolling. Maybe then more will be known about the contents of the papyri. Some of the writing has been identified as not being Greek. If it's Syriac, bets are the texts are biblical; if Nabataean, they are probably documentary papyri--some of them, anyway.
Date: Wed, 5 Jan 1994
From: David Meadows
Subject: Re: Papyri from church at Petra

The chat about these papyri have been making the rounds of the ANE list as well. About a week ago there was a rather good piece on them on CNN, believe it or not. They interviewed the Polish fellow in charge and showed the rolls themselves, which have now been transported to a lab wrapped in alumium (aluminium for you across the pond) looking much like submarine sandwiches. The rolls themselves seemed very badly charred to me and the report said they would require chemical treatment to retrieve the writing, and even with such treatment there seemed to be some doubt (the rolls looked like logs which had been in a fire for quite a while). I can't recall whther any of the writing had been identified as Greek, Aramaic, Nabatean, or whatever.
Date: Fri, 7 Jan 1994
From: "Terry L. Papillon"
Subject: Re: Papyri from church at Petra

David, I'm not aware of the new technique which use as "lab wrapped in aluminum." (hee hee hee) :) Sorry, couldn't resist.
Culled from classics.log9401a.
Copyright © 2001 David Meadows
this page: