This inventory has been completed in large part as a result of the APIS (Advanced Papyrological Information System) project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities from 1996 to 1999. The Princeton papyri inventoried are held in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections and The Scheide Library, both housed in the Harvey S. Firestone Memorial Library. Most are Greek documentary papyri, including census and tax registers, military lists, land conveyances, business records, petitions, private letters, and other sources of historical and paleographic interest from Ptolemaic (332 to 30 B.C.), Roman (30 B.C. to 300 A.D.), and Byzantine Egypt (300 to 650 A.D.). Nearly all were discovered from the 1890s to the 1920s, buried or recovered from mummy cartonnage in and around the ancient town of Oxyrhynchus (modern, el-Bahnasa), the towns of the Fayum region (including Philadelphia), Tebtunis (modern, Tell Umm el-Breigat), and Hibeh. Acquired along with the documentary papyri were literary fragments (Aristophanes, Demosthenes, Euripides, Herodotus, Hippocrates, Homer, Isocrates, Theocritus, and Xenophon) and Greek New Testament fragments (Epistle of St. James). There are also Pharaonic (through 332 B.C.), Ptolemaic (332 to 30 B.C.), and Roman-period papyri in Egyptian languages (Hieroglyphic, Hieratic, Demotic, and Coptic); Arabic papyri from the Islamic period (from 640 A.D.): and a few pieces in Latin from Roman Egypt and 6th-century Italy.

ThePrinceton collections of papyri were acquired from different sources. Princeton acquired 90 papyri from 1901 to 1922 through the Graeco-Roman Branch of the Egypt Exploration Society, which was established in 1897 for the stated purpose of "the discovery and publication of remains of classical antiquity and early Christianity in Egypt." Papyri discovered in Oxyrhynchus and other Egyptian sites were published in annual volumes edited primarily by B. P. Grenfell and A. S. Hunt of Oxford University, then distributed to institutions in England and the United States in return for a monetary subscription. The last Princeton purchase from the Egyptian Exploration Society seems to have been ten papyri purchased for $100 in 1922. The initial interest among Princeton faculty was from Professor of Classics Allan Chester Johnson (1881-1955).

The bulk of Princeton's papyri were acquired in the 1920s directly or indirectly through the British Museum. Many were received from 1921 to 1928 through Princeton's participation in a five-member consortium that initially included three American universities (Cornell, Michigan, and Princeton), the University of Geneva, and the British Museum. The papyri were selected and purchased by the British Museum from the Cairo dealer Maurice Nahman and other sources, then imported to England for conservation treatment (chiefly, cleaning and flattening by C. T. Lamacraft), preliminary inventory, selective transcription and publication, and distribution to consortium members in accordance with the financial contribution and collecting interests of each. Coordinating these efforts for the British Museum were such eminent scholars as Sir Frederick G. Kenyon (1863-1952), Sir Ernest Alfred Wallis Budge (1857-1934), and especially H. I. [Harold Idris] Bell (1879-1967), who was Curator of Manuscripts at the British Museum and an eminent papyrologist. Francis W. Kelsey, Professor of Classics at the University of Michigan, negotiated on behalf of the American universities in the consortium. Princeton was represented by Professor Allan Chester Johnson, Department of Classics; James Thayer Gerould (1872-1951), Librarian; Henry Bartlett van Hoesen (1885-1965), Assistant Librarian, Curator of Manuscripts, and also an Assistant Professor in the Classics Department; and in 1927-28 Robert Garrett, who underwrote Princeton's purchases in part. By 1927 the consortium was expanded to two other American universities because of the interest of Professor William L. Westermann at Columbia and Professor Michael Rostovtzeff at Yale, but Princeton's purchase of papyri through the British Museum seems to have ended with the 1928 distribution. Extensive correspondence, annual reports about acquisitions, distribution lists, and other contemporary files about the papyri are in the collection files of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections.

Independently, Robert Garrett purchased approximately 750 Egyptian papyri through the British Museum for his own manuscript collection between 1924 and 1930. H. I. Bell prepared lists of these papyri, which Garrett then deposited them in the Princeton University Library for the use of scholars. A total of 164 Garrett papyri were mounted and catalogued at Princeton, leaving approximately 600 others stored in two boxes but generally not described beyond H. I. Bell's listing. Garrett also acquired several papyrus rolls dating from the Ptolemaic period, including a Saite recension of the Book of the Dead (26th Dynasty, ca. 600 B.C.) in Hieratic purchased from the London dealer Spink & Son in 1928, and also two Hieroglyphic Books of the Dead and four other funerary or religious papyri in Hieratic. These were examined by William Christopher Hayes (1903-63) of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Department of Egyptian Art between 1944 and 1948 but only unrolled in 1998-99 as part of the APIS Project. The Garrett Deposit papyri were donated to the Library along with the rest of his vast manuscript collections in 1942. In addition, some parchment and paper fragments in Coptic and Arabic, acquired along with Garrett papyri, chiefly from Maurice Nahman in 1929, are in Princeton's collections of Coptic and Islamic manuscripts.

Smaller collections of papyri were received from other donors. Notable gifts included 50 papyri (accession nos. 11200-11250) from John Hinsdale Scheide (1875-1942) in 1935 and 1936; about 40 from Edmund H. Kase (b.1905), acquired in the 1930s and given by Kase in memory of Professor Allan Chester Johnson in 1957; and 87 from Mrs. Charles A. Askren of Tacoma, Washington, in 1947. In July 1982 mummy cartonnage was purchased from the Viennese antiquities dealer Michael Fackelmann, then was partly opened or disassembled by Fackelmann in Vienna and by Professor Adam Bülow-Jacobsen (University of Copenhagen) and Department of Rare Books and Special Collections staff at Princeton, creating another small collection of Egyptian papyri, described by Ann Ellis Hanson in "Papyri in the Princeton University Collections: The New Acquisitions," Princeton University Library Chronicle, vol. 44, no. 2 (Winter 1983): 159-68. Fourteen papyri of unknown provenance were given Princeton accession numbers by Hanson. It should be mentioned that in addition to papyri donated to the Princeton University Library by John Hinsdale Scheide in the 1930s, others became part of the private collections of the Scheide Library, most notably 21 leaves of the Book of Ezekiel from a papyrus codex of the Old Testament, and a Coptic parchment codex.

The checklist is largely the work of Rosalie Cook as staff papyrologist, working under the supervision of Don C. Skemer as project director of APIS at Princeton. Much of her time was spent identifying and describing approximately 150 previously unidentified Greek documentary papyri, which were then mounted for study. She also reviewed published Greek papyri and existing descriptions: 191 texts and documents ("P.Princeton") published in Papyri in the Princeton University Collections, edited by Allan Chester Johnson, Henry Bartlett Van Hoesen, Edmund Harris Kase, Jr, and Sidney Pullman Goodrich (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1931-42), 3 vols.; 82 papyri ("P. Oxyrhynchus") published in The Oyxrhynchus Papyri vols. I-IV, VI-XI edited by B. P. Grenfell and A. S. Hunt; 18 papyri ("P.Fayum") published in Fayûm Towns and Their Papyri edited by B. P. Grenfell, A. S. Hunt and D. G. Hogarth; 7 papyri ("P.Hibeh") published in The Hibeh Papyri I edited by B. P. Grenfell and A. S. Hunt; approximately 50 Princeton papyri published in other books and journals; unpublished lists compiled by H. I. Bell at the British Museum in the 1920s; departmental deposit and accession record books; a location list compiled by Ann Ellis Hanson in the 1970s as curator of papyri at Princeton; and Hanson's preliminary lists of the Askren Collection, Kase Collection, and Michael Fackelmann purchase.

Other papyrologists have assisted in identifying Princeton papyri. Approximately 100 unidentified Greek papyri were briefly described by consultant Traianos Gagos (University of Michigan), with funding from Princeton's Program in Hellenic Studies. Demotic papyri were described by Professor Joseph Manning (now at Stanford University) while a member of the Princeton faculty. Previously unidentified and uncataloged papyri in other languages were identified by specialists retained with APIS Project funding: Arabic papyri by Professor Gladys Frantz-Murphy, Regis University; Coptic papyri and early parchment fragments by Todd Hickey, University of Chicago; and Hieratic and Hieroglyphic papyri by Professor Leonard H. Lesko, Brown University. Not included in this descriptive inventory of Princeton papyri are approximately 770 small and not yet identified fragments of Greek documentary papyri and three modern fakes (Garrett Deposit, nos. 7621, 7699 and 7707).

In the inventory, entries have been arranged initially by language or script and then by form. Multiple entries for documents under the same heading are organized chronologically, with undated items last. Not included are papyri too small for be identified or described. Literary texts are listed by author and title; subliterary and documentary texts are identified by form. With respect to Coptic papyri and parchment fragments, literary texts have not been assigned dates based upon paleography alone, following B. Layton, Catalogue of Coptic Literary Manuscripts in the British Library Acquired Since the Year 1906 (London: The British Library 1987), p. xxiv, and Leo Depuydt, Catalogue of the Coptic Manuscripts in the Pierpont Morgan Library (Louvain: Peeters 1993), p. l. However, dates advanced for published texts have been retained. If the writing material of a text suggests a chronological range, I have indicated such. "Front" and "back" refer to current mountings (unless these contradict the known order of the text). Form-and-genre terms for document types have been selected whenever possible from Peter van Minnen, "Introducing the Online Catalogue of the Duke Papyrus Collection," Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 31 (1994): 159-70.


Statistical Overview of Papyri
Greek Papyri
Greek Ostraka
Latin Papyri
Hieroglyphic Papyri  
Hieratic Papyri  
Demotic Papyri  
Coptic Papyri
Coptic Ostraka  
Arabic Papyri
Unidentified Papyri

Each entry contains the following fields:

Curator of Manuscripts




Arsinoë (modern Medinet el-Faiyum, Methana, Patara, Rethymna)

Arsinoite nome (around modern Fayum)

Bubastis (modern Tell Basta)

Bacchias (modern Umm el `Atl)

Dionysias (modern Qasr Qarun)

Hermonthite nome (around modern Armant)

Hermopolis (modern el-Ashmunein)



Kerkesoucha Orous (in the vicinity of modern Tell Umm el-Breigat)

Lycopolis (modern Asyut)

Oxyrhynchite nome (around modern el-Bahnasa)

Oxyrhynchus (modern el-Bahnasa)

Philadelphia (modern Kom el-Kharaba el-Kebir)



Soknopaiou Nesos (modern Dimai)

Tanis (modern San el-Hagar)

Tebtunis (modern Tell Umm el-Breigat)

Theadelphia (modern Batn Ihrit)



Fayum region


Kom el Hisn (?)

Tell Umm el-Breigat

Tell Umm el Karagal

* The spellings for places are drawn from John Baines and Jaromir Malek, Atlas of Ancient Egypt (New York: Facts on File Publications, 1980).





Bruckner, A. and Marichal, R. Chartae latinae antiquores IX. (Dietikon-Zürich; URS. Graf-Verlag, 1977)

Cavallo G., Maehler H., Greek Bookhands of the Early Byzantine Period, A.D. 300-800, Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies, Supplement 47 (London: University of London/Institute of Classical Studies, 1987)

Cavenaille, Robert. Corpus papyrorum latinarum. (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1956)

Grenfell, B. P., Hunt, A. S., et al. The Oxyrhynchus Papyri vols. I, II, III, IV, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, and
XI. (London: Egypt Exploration Fund/Graeco-Roman Branch, 1898-1915)

Grenfell, B. P., Hunt, A. S., and Hogarth, D.G. Fayûm Towns and Their Papyri. (London: Egypt
Exploration Fund/Graeco-Roman Branch, 1900)

Grenfell, B. P., Hunt, A. S. The Hibeh Papyri pt. I. (London: Egypt Exploration Fund/Graeco
Roman Branch, 1906)

Johnson, A. C., van Hoesen, H. B. Papyri in the Princeton University Collections vol. I. (Baltimore;
The Johns Hopkins Press, 1931)

Johnson, A. C., Goodrich, S. P. Papyri in the Princeton University Collections vol. III. (Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 1942)

Kase, E. H., Jr. Papyri in the Princeton University Collections vol. II. (Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 1936)

Preisigke, F., Bilabel, F., and Kießling, E,. et al., Sammelbuch griechischer Urkunden aus Ägypten  vol. III (Berlin and Leipzig: Walter de Gruyter & Co., 1926), vol. IV (Heidelberg: Privately published, 1931), vol. V (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1971), and vol. X (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1971), and vol. XII (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1977)

Tjäder, Jan-Olof. Die nichtliterarischen lateinischen Papyri Italiens aus der Zeit 445-700 (Lund: C.W.K. Gleerup, 1955)

Varia papyrologica, Corpus dei papiri filosofici greci e latini (1991); Corpus dei papiri filosofici greci e latini (CPF): Testi e lessico nei papiri di cultura greca e latina), edited by Francesco Adorno, et al., Accademia Toscana di Scienze e Lettere "La Colombaria" (Florence: Leo S. Olschki, 1995), part III (Commentari): 52-62


Archiv    Archiv für Papyrusforschung und verwandte Gebiete

Aegyptus    Aegyptus. Revista italiana di egittologia e di papirologia Anagennesis

ANRW    Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt

AncSoc     Ancient Society

BASP     Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists

Bibl.Orient     Bibliotheca Orientalis

Cd'É     Chronique d'Égypte: Bulletin périodique de la Fondation Égyptologique Reine Élisabeth

CP     Classical Philology


JEA     Journal of Egyptian Archaeology

JJP     Journal of Juristic Papyrology

Res Orientales

SB     Sammelbuch griechischer Urkunden aus Ägypten

TAPA     Transactions of the American Philological Association

Tyche     Tyche: Beiträge zur alten Geschichte, Papyrologie und Epigraphik

ZPE     Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik

June 1999