Papyrology Summer School

(July 1997)

The International Summer School in Papyrology advertised in previous issues of the Newsletter was held in Oxford in July, 1997. The Summer School was organised and co-ordinated by Dr. D. Obbink and Dr. R.A. Coles, with the assistance of Dr. A.K. Bowman. 30 students participated, of whom 26 came from other British universities and from overseas. Countries represented included USA, Australia, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Switzerland.

Students were resident in Christ Church and the lectures, demonstrations and workshop sessions were held at Christ Church and at the Centre. Visiting lecturers included: Dr. Willy Clarysse (Leuven), Dr. W.H. Cockle (UCL), Prof. E.W. Handley (Trinity College, Cambridge), Prof. M.W. Haslam (UCLA and Manchester), Prof. H.G.T. Maehler (UCL), Dr. Cornelia Römer (Cologne), Prof. J.D. Thomas (Durham), Dr. D.J. Thompson (Cambridge), Prof. D.M. Rathbone (KCL), Dr. J.L. Rowlandson (KCL). In addition to attending lectures and workshops, each student was assigned an unpublished papyrus from the Oxyrhynchus collection to work on during the period of the Summer School. It is hoped that the resulting editions of most of these texts can eventually be published in The Oxyrhynchus Papyri.

Jie Yuan of UCLA reports below on her experience of taking part in the Summer School:

"Together with 26 students from Europe, America, and Australia, I attended the International Summer School in Papyrology held at Oxford this past July. We were introduced to various aspects of this field of study, from the geological landscape of the Fayum to the social history of Ptolemaic Egypt, from methods of papyrus conservation to techniques of editing literary and documentary texts, from Greek and Latin papyri to Demotic and Coptic, from pagan astrology to Christian theology. Beyond getting a glimpse of papyrology through these diverse windows, we were also each assigned an unpublished Oxyrhynchus papyrus (according to our backgrounds and interests) so that we could put into practice what we were learning.

Instruction at the Summer School was divided into two kinds. Each morning we heard two or three formal presentations, generally on a common subject, by various speakers from Oxford and elsewhere. In the afternoon, we learned about the more technical sides of papyrology (including the use of computer databanks, the papyrology room in the Ashmolean Museum, and the making of papyrus sheets) in workshops where often both the instructors and the students together were engaged in the same struggle to decipher and give meaning to a particular piece of papyrus. Outside of these scheduled meetings, we also had various opportunities to discuss matters of common interest with the instructors and our fellow students. The CSAD, where in the evenings we studied the originals of our individually assigned papyri, making use of microscopes and computers, was staffed by various instructors always willing to answer the most trivial questions and to offer their advice and opinion.

On the last afternoon of the Summer School, each of us gave a brief presentation of the papyrus we were editing. It was most interesting to hear how everyone attempted to make sense of their assigned papyrus, be it a fragment of a known author in an easy to read script or a long letter of obscure content in a hand difficult for the beginner to decipher. Most of us had only made a preliminary study of our papyrus and when we return to our home institutes will persevere in our efforts until it is fit to be published eventually in one of the forthcoming P.Oxy. volumes.

The Summer School was a most engaging learning experience for all of us, and for some the place where studying papyri became more than just a solitary effort."

Jie Yuan

University of California, Los Angeles

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Created on Sunday, 07 March, 1999: 12:25:53