Monday, 3 February 2014

Sappho: "A scrap of papyrus used in a burial"

Where did this information come from? "A scrap of papyrus used in a burial has brought the Greek writer Sappho to life":
The elderly gentleman on the end of the line had material from an ancient Egyptian burial in his possession. He’d noticed that scraps of the cartonnage (the Egyptian equivalent of papier-mâché, made of recycled papyrus) bore the ghostly imprint of writing. Might these words, the stranger wondered, be of any interest? Professor Obbink, one of the world’s leading papyrologists, thought they might. Prising the layers of shredded papyrus apart, he had to hold his breath. Because here — pretty much instantly recognisable — were delicate, fragmentary lines of the elusive ancient Greek poet Sappho.
So where are the other fragments from this cartonnage? Will they be published in ZFPE? It seems possible that Hughes and Obbink know each other, in March 2010 the Oxford scholar appeared in Channel 4's series Alexandria: The Greatest City, presented by Hughes.

And where had the cartonnage come from? :
“The elderly owner of our new Sappho papyrus wishes to remain anonymous, and its provenance is obscure (it was originally owned, it seems, by a high-ranking German officer), but he was determined its secrets should not die with him.”
Is she suggesting this is Nazi loot?

Bettany Hughes, 'Lover, poet, muse and a ghost made real', Sunday Times 2 February 2014

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