Sunday, 3 August 2014

More on the Green Papyri

Roberta Mazza (Faces and Voices) notes that the publisher Brill is going to publish the Green collection papyri, and on its web-page was indicating that they were expecting analysis of 15000 new fragments (Green papyri: accounts don’t balance, again….). She, on the other hand, had been informed by the curator of the Green papyri, Josephine Dru, that the collection contains about 1,000 papyrus fragments "mostly of documentary nature" [...] "acquired from private collections in Europe [...] approximately 70% Greek, 15% Coptic and 15% late Egyptian”). The web-page has now been updated to represent the lower figure.

This collection is very special. Given the firm Christian standards Mr Green is known to espouse, tall the items in it can be counted on as having been obtained according to the highest standards of Christian morals. The collector can be counted on in having ascertained that there will not be a single stolen or dishonestly obtained papyrus among them. We therefore have an unprecedented opportunity to see how an honest collector can build up a perfectly legal and moral collection of 1000 previously-unknown items. I am sure we are all very interested in the demonstration that this can be done in this day and age. I am sure that in  publishing this material, and taking into account the amount of post-Revolution illicit activity on Egyptian sites (producing precisely new material of Greek, Coptic and Egyptian origin), both the collector himself and Brill will insist on full transparency over where every single of those fragments reached the licit market, who was responsible for curating it responsibly, and how they went to America. This would produce a body of information vital to any research of the legitimate antiquities market.

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