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Papyrus from Oxyrhynchus

20 November 2023

Egyptian papyrus, 161 AD
Acc #: 67.64, James Logie Memorial Collection
Presented by the Egypt Exploration Society


This papyrus records a horoscope for 1am, 16 August, AD 161. The translation reads:

Year 1 of Antoninus and Verus, the lords, Mesore 22nd-23rd, 7th hour of the night. Sun in Leo, Moon and Saturn in Scorpio, Mars and Mercury in Virgo, Jupiter in Taurus, Venus in Cancer. Horoscope in Gemini, good luck!

Papyrus is a plant that grows in marshy environments. Papyrus ‘paper’ is made from the pith of the stem. The stems were crushed and the pith removed and cut into strips. These were laid on a flat surface, with each strip slightly overlapping the other. Then another layer of strips was laid at right angles and the two layers were beaten so that they fused. They were then left to dry under pressure. Once dry, the sheet was polished with a round object (eg a shell or stone). Sheets could be glued together to form a roll. Other early forms of paper included vellum and parchment (made from animal skin).

This papyrus may have come from a dump of thousands of papyri found over the course of several years from the late 19th-20th centuries. Included amongst them were many Greek and Latin literary works, large chunks of the Old and New Testaments, the Apocrypha dating to the 1st-6th century AD, and other minor documents like this one.

Egyptian papyrus
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