Classics and Archaeology Virtual Museum


1. The 1971 Catalogue of Works of Art describes 10 papyri, nine from Oxyrhynchus and one from the Fayum. These were in the Gallery's database, except for P.OXY. 187 (stolen in 1975), and had been accessioned with 1930 prefixes.

In the 1970s the papyri were set on green backing paper and mounted within perspex. One papyrus (P.Oxy.346) was sent to Conservation.

All the papyri have been photographed - still in their perspex overcoat (except for P.Oxy.346).

A photograph of the stolen papyrus has been received and is included in the display (see below).

2. The 1980 typed inventory listed nine papyri with insurance values. P. OXY 187 is not on this list; on 30 March 1976 Charles Ede opined (in a letter to Connor re MU 40) that it might be worth "somewhere around £150".

3. The Melbourne papyri were first described in:

Fayum Towns and their Papyri, ed. B.P. Grenfell, A.S. Hunt and D.G. Hogarth. London 1900. (Egypt Exploration Society, Graeco-Roman Memoirs 3).

The Oxyrhynchus Papyri. Published by the Egypt Exploration Society in Graeco-Roman Memoirs (London). The number in parentheses at the end of each entry is the number in this series of volumes. Earlier vols. carry the heading of Egypt Exploration Fund, Graeco-Roman Branch; even after the title change numbers were not assigned to the volumes until the 1950s. The system followed here is that adopted retroactively by the EES. [Source: CHECKLIST OF EDITIONS OF GREEK AND LATIN PAPYRI, OSTRACA AND TABLETS, last updated August 22 2008, founding editors John F. Oates and William H. Willis:]

I, Nos. 1-207, ed. B.P. Grenfell and A.S. Hunt. 1898. (1)
II, Nos. 208-400, ed. B.P. Grenfell and A.S. Hunt. 1899. (2)
XII, Nos. 1405-1593, ed. B.P. Grenfell and A.S. Hunt. 1916. (15)
XIII, Nos. 1594-1625, ed. B.P. Grenfell and A.S. Hunt. 1919. (16)
XIV, Nos. 1626-1777, ed. B.P. Grenfell and A.S. Hunt. 1920. (17)

Vol. 4 (1904) of Oxyrhynchus Papyri has a distribution list of published papyri. According to this (pp. 267-270), the University of Melbourne Library received 172 'Melbourne Pap. 1', 187 'Melbourne Pap. 2'; 263 'Melbourne Pap. 3', 346 'Melbourne Pap. 4', and Fayûm 186 'Melbourne Pap. 6' (sic!). Thanks to Andrew Turner for his assistance.

In Vol. 16 (1924) p. 275 the "University Library, Melbourne" is listed as the recipient of published papyri distributed since the last list in Vol. 11: on pp. 278-9 it is recorded that we received 1544, 1557, 1620, 1664 and 1740. This indicated that they were received between 1920, when the last of them was published, and 1924. Thanks to Andrew Turner again for help in exploring this question.

4. On the PHI Disk 7 the text of P.Fay. 186 is found at P.Custom 393, and this text has been copied and pasted into the database record (permission granted from Oates at Duke in email received 15 June 1998). The texts of P.Oxy. 263, 346, 1544, 1557, 1664 and 1740 have also been copied from the PHI disk. P.Oxy.1620 is in Vol. 13 of Grenfell and Hunt, which is not on the PHI disk. The text of 172 and the missing 187 are not in Vol 1 or on the PHI disk.

5. Letter from secretary, Egypt Exploration Fund, 17/1/1901, to Rev Edward Sugden:

Egypt Exploration Fund
37 Grt Russell St
London, W C

The Rev. Edward Sugden

Dear Sir,

I have the honour to inform you that the President and committee of the Egypt Exploration Fund have voted a donation of Greek papyri from the sites of Oxyrhynchus and the Fayum to the Melbourne University.

A list will be found overleaf.

I am, Dear Sir,
yrs faithfully

Emily Paterson


List of Papyri

From Oxyrhynchus- CLXXII, CLXXXVII, CCLXIII, CCCXLVI (See "Oxyrhynchus Papyri" I & II)

From the Fayum- CLXXXVI (See "Fayum Towns and their Papyri")

Kindly let us know your private marks or numbers when the Papyri are catalogued, for future reference.

[In a different hand]

The above are catalogued as ms. no. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5: & are in P.R. in the case in which they came. See list in drawer of shelf-lists.

6. Brief description of the first five papyri on a sheet headed "Library, University of Melbourne. Catalogue of Manuscripts", written in the second hand of the previous document. This too in 'papyri' folder. On the basis of this evidence, the first five papyri were re-accessioned with a 1901 prefix.

7. The Rev E Sugden (1854-1935) was Master of Queens College at the University from 1887 to 1928, and a member of University Council from 1900-1925, a tutor in Classics while in England and a collector of first editions. Jane Allen, archivist at Queens and the Baillieu, has looked through the Sugden papers to try to explain why the Fund wrote to Sugden, but with no result (letter 2 June 1998 in papyri file).

8. G W Clarke, "Some observations on the Melbourne papyri." Orpheus 1970 17-20 (relevant sections have been copied into the Virtual Museum database entries).

9. Request in file from R Coles, Papyrology Rooms, Ashmolean, dated 15 May 1970 to G Clarke, for photos of all our papyri on behalf of the Egypt Exploration Society and the British Academy. Lists our ten. Seems we obliged. Through Charles Crowther, Gideon Nisbet emailed (9/6/98) an image of the stolen P.Oxy. 187 (POxy187.jpg) that he especially made from a black and white photo - which may be the one we sent him.

10. Patricia Spencer, of the Egypt Exploration Society) wrote (email, 7 June 1998) that Revel Coles had passed on an inquiry about the second five papyri: "We do not seem to have any real distribution-lists for the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, but I have found a letter of 28 April 1939 from J Enoch Powell, then at the University of Sydney, to Hugh Last of this Society which refers to the five papyri distributed in 1922, via Sydney, to Melbourne University and then (in 1939) presumed lost! It doesn't give their numbers but surely they must be the same ones?"

A copy of Enoch Powell's letter is now on line. The distribution lists were published in Vol 1 and Vol 16 of Oxyrhynchus Papyri (see 3 above), and the accession numbers of these five papyri has now been changed to a 1922 prefix. The location lists are now on line.

11. Letter from Amsterdam (signature indecipherable) dated 26/7/1977 thanking for permission to publish P.Fay. 186 and clear photo; with comment on hole where seal was. The signature could be that of P J Sijpesteijn, who published the text of the papyrus in Customs Duties in Graeco-Roman Egypt, Zutphen 1987 (Stud.Amst. XVII). P.Fay. 186 is his number 393 (and in the Duke checklist the re-edition is referred to as P.Customs 393).

John F Oates, at Duke, advised on 9 June 1998 via email that "I am sorry to report that Prof. Sijpesteijn died 2 years ago. It was premature and has left all papyrologists with a great sense of loss. So far as I know there is no further reference to your papyrus. The re-edition is duly noted in Berichtigungsliste 9".

12. Request from R Pintaudi for photo of P.OXY 172 and permission to publish. His article is "Spigolature", Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 46 (1982) 249-266 & Plates xiv-xvi.

13. is the URL of the on-line Oxyrhynchus database etc at Oxford. Good description of the town and other aspects of papyri. The Duke Papyrus Archive is at

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