The official language of written communication in Egypt has been ancient Greek for roughly a millenium, between 332 BC (conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great) and AD 642 (Arab conquet of Egypt). During that time, the inhabitants of the land produced written documents by the millions : letters, contracts, declarations, petitions, registers etc. They also copied books, some of which have not been copied on by the scribes of the Byzantine period.
In the nineteenth century, diggers in Egypt brought back to the surface a vast amount of Greek papyri. Those texts, sometimes complete but often in a fragmentary condition, were bought by various institutions in Europe and North America. The Geneva Library (formerly Public and University Library of Geneva) holds several hundred such texts. A fair number of them have been published since their purchase, but there remains a lot of unpublished papyri to be taken care of, especially for the Late Roman period.
The research team includes Ms. Sarah Gaffino Moeri (who was active in the first phase of the project, but has now left for other activities), Ms. Sophie Gällnö Viala and Ms. Noemi Poget Kern, under the supervision of Prof. Paul Schubert.
The aim of this project is to publish about fifty new texts from the Geneva collection. They are literary texts of pagan and christian contents, letters, contracts, petitions etc. Most of them are preserved only as fragment. The work consists of deciphering the texts, filling the gaps when possible, providing a translation, and writing a physical description, an introduction on the contents, as well as a commentary on each text. Published papyri can then be used by other scholars, either specialists of literature and religion, or historians, as new material ; this new material in turn allows scholars to test preexisting models pertaining to Antiquity.