The papyrus collection at Yale is one of the oldest collections in the nation and among the richest. In 1888, Jesse Haworth (1835-1921) gave three fragments to Yale (P.CTYBR inv. 17-19).
Yale Papyrus Collection in the News
Recently, the work we have been completing on the digitization and conservation of the Yale Papyrus Collection was highlighted in two news articles. You can read about our project in the Yale Daily News and the New Haven Register.
New Research on P.CtYBR inv. 5087
Recently, Dr. Brice Jones uploaded a great discussion on one of our papyri on his website. P.CtYBR inv. 5087 is a small slip of papyri with just three lines of text, but completely unique. Read about Dr. Jones' research here.
Students of the Persian Language visit the Beinecke
On Monday, November 10th 2014 we hosted a wonderful group of Yale undergraduate scholars who are studying the Persian language. Led by Dr. Farkhondeh Shayesteh, from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, the students examined parchment and manuscripts from the Yale Papyrus Collection and the General Collection of Early Books and Manuscripts. On display were two parchment, written in Middle Persian, from the city of Dura-Europos in eastern Syria. These two pieces of parchment date to the second quarter of the third century C.E. (225-256/7 C.E) and they are documents that deal with the day-to-day administrative life of a thriving multi-cultural city.
In addition, the students poured over the beautifully illustrated manuscripts while highlighting their language skills by identifying and reading the texts out loud. Among the manuscripts that the students examined was a stunning example of the Iskander nameh, or “the Book of Alexander” (Persian MSS suppl. 100). The manuscript dates from the early Safavid period, which is considered one of the most productive periods of Persian cultural history and the source of the greatest works of painting, calligraphy, and architecture. The students also viewed a variety of Persian poetry manuscripts including a Masnavi poem dating to 1568 C.E. (Persian MSS 11), replete with exquisite full page miniatures, and a love poem entitled Mihr va Mushtari dating to 1692 C.E. (Persian MSS 173).
Also on display was a copy of the Shahnamah (1653 C.E.), which is an epic poem that traces the prehistory and history of the Persian empire through to the Islamic conquest of Persia (Persian MSS +87).
Within moments of entering the room, one student immediately identified a Persian copy of the Mahābhārata dating to 1850 C.E. (Persian MSS +94). The Mahābhārata contains an epic narrative about a mythological war set in India, as well as philosophical and devotional dialogues. Translations of the Mahābhārata into Persian began under the behest of the Mughal Emperor Abkar the Great, who not only amassed a huge literary collection in multiple languages, but also maintained strong diplomatic ties with the Persian Safavid dynasty.
At the conclusion of the class Dr. Shayesteh elicited comments and discussion from the students, which demonstrated their enthusiasm for the material, as well as the breadth of their historical knowledge.
Who's using the Yale Papyrus Collection?
The Yale Papyrus Collection currently has scholars from over 43 different institutions, from around the world, working on the papyri. Mapping these scholars presents a great overview of where the papyrologists are located. If you are working on a papyrus and we haven't included your location, let us know.
"Kind, modest, and always interested": Edwin J. Beinecke
One of the really wonderful parts of the being the Papyrologist for the Yale Papyrus Collection is updating our bibliographic list. This list serves as a vivid reminder of all the exciting scholarship that is taking place using items from our collection. Often, as I am reading new publications, I am reminded of the long history of papyri acquisition and all the work and support that has gone into the collection over the years. These thoughts are, perhaps, made more present as we begin the two year renovation of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library building – the home of the Yale Papyrus Collection.
Just one year after the Beinecke Library opened in 1963, Edwin J. Beinecke donated funds that purchased a substantial collection of papyri for Yale. These papyri, together with the rest of the collection, would become a part of the ever expanding assemblage of rare books, manuscripts, texts, art, objects, and ephemera housed within the namesake library. While Mr. Beinecke, standing to the left in the photo, was well known as a collector of items related to Robert Louis Stevenson, he maintained a deep commitment to the field of papyrology.
As an advisor to, and supporter of, the American Society of Papyrologists, Mr. Beinecke was instrumental in establishing the Society’s publication program, including the internationally recognized Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists. Upon the death of Mr. Beinecke on January 21st, 1970, the American Society of Papyrologists published a touching obituary. As the editors of the article note “His great contribution was recognized by…. the fact that the name ‘Beinecke’ is known to all who are concerned with rare books and ancient manuscripts.”
Recently added to the Yale Papyrus Collection Bibliography, this article reviews the significant influence that Mr. Beinecke had on making papyrological scholarship part of the “wider world of humane studies."