The Egypt Exploration Society is the custodian of the largest collection of ancient papyri in the world. Housed at the University of Oxford, the collection comprises over 500,000 fragments of literary and documentary texts dating from the third century BC to the seventh century AD. The texts are written in Greek, ancient Egyptian (hieroglyphic, hieratic, demotic), Coptic, Latin, Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, and Pahlavi.

Much of the papyri come from the excavations of Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt (above) on behalf of the Graeco-Roman Branch of the Egypt Exploration Society between 1896 and 1907. During this time they conducted investigations at sites around the Faiyum, and most prominently at the site of Oxyrhynchus (Bahnasa). Other papyri come from the expedition of John de Monins Johnson to Antinoopolis in 1913-14. The Society also holds various records of the excavations and the distribution of the finds, including photographs taken by the Graeco-Roman Branch.

Search our papyri collections

Location

The Oxyrhynchus Papyri
Papyrology Rooms
First Floor
Sackler Library
University of Oxford
1 St. John St.
Oxford OX1 2LG

Open by appointment only, please contact Dr Daniela Colomo at [email protected] to arrange a visit

Read about the Society's papyri assignment policy here.  

External website: http://www.papyrology.ox.ac.uk/POxy/

Sponsors

Financial support for the care and publication of the collection, which is designated as a British Academy Major Project, is currently provided by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy.

Publication of the texts is made available through the Graeco-Roman Memoirs which is available for subscription as part of EES membership. So far 6000 texts have been published, all with translations and commentaries in English, making this the best published of the world’s papyri collections.

Reproduction permission and fees

Applicants should first check whether there is an image already available, and of adequate quality, on the website of the University of Oxford Imaging Papyri Project. Once an image is selected, a request can be made by following the instructions here

Further reading

Bowman, A.K. et al. (eds.) 2007. Oxyrhynchus. A City and its Texts. London: The Egypt Exploration Society.

Parsons, P. 2007. City of the Sharp-Nosed Fish. Greek Lives in Roman Egypt. London: Orion Books.

Rathbone, D.W. 2007. ‘Grenfell and Hunt at Oxyrhynchus and in the Fayum’, in P. Spencer (ed.), The Egypt Exploration Society: The Early Years, 195-229, London: The Egypt Exploration Society.

Turner, E.G. 1982. ‘The Graeco-Roman branch’, in T.G.H. James (ed.), Excavating in Egypt. The Egypt Exploration Society 1882-1982, 160-78, London: British Museum Press.