Tuesday, February 17, 2015
New Opening, Cairo: 11 Greco-Roman papyri make their debut in the Egyptian Museum
CAIRO: A temporary exhibition of 33 ancient Egyptian artifacts, some of which are on display for the first time, was inaugurated Thursday by Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty at the Egyptian museum. “Papyri from Karanis” takes place in room 44 on the museum’s ground floor and will last for a month, according to a ministry statement.
Present at the inauguration were German Ambassador to Cairo Hans-Jorg Haber and German papyri expert Cornelia Römer. “The exhibition includes 10 statues made of bronze and terracotta, wooden boxes, along with 11 papyri dating back to Egypt’s Greco-Roman Period [(330B.C.-395A.D.)],” Egyptian museum director Mahmoud al-Halwagy told The Cairo Post Saturday.
The 11 papyri scrolls, which have been stored in the museum’s warehouse, shed light on the daily life of residents of the ancient town of Karanis, some 75 kilometers southwest of Cairo, and also provide intimate view and significant details of ancient Egypt’s relationship with the Greek and Roman Empires, Halwagy added. The 11 papyri are unique and significant as they feature correspondences between family members, medical prescriptions for bone fractures and proper names that were common during that time, he added.
Among the papyri on display is “a love letter written in Greek script by an unknown woman to her husband, a complaint letter of a man who was robbed and another who was attacked and beaten by unidentified assailants along with a letter containing a death notification,” said Halwagy. The city of Karanis, which was established as an agricultural hub by the Greek King Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285 B.C.-246B.C.,) prospered towards the end of the third century before the site was abandoned and buried under sands until 1800s, archaeologist Sherif el-Saban told The Cairo Post.
The site was excavated illegally starting from the early 1900s, said Sabban adding that several papyri were found by framers and were offered for sale on the antiquities market. “In the early 20th century, the site was excavated by an archaeology mission from the University of Michigan. Two well-preserved temples, household objects, mud-prick made residential houses along with dozens of papyri, now exhibited at the Kelsey Museum were among the findings,” said Sabban.