You can help recover ancient manuscripts


Ordinary people, even those with no knowledge of Greek or Latin, can now assist scholars at Oxford University in the recovery of long-lost classical literature by transcribing papyrus fragments found at Oxyrhynchus in Egypt.

As perhaps you know, Oxyrhynchus is the site of a vast waste dump dating to classical times. It was discovered more than a century ago and hundreds of thousands (millions?) of papyri, which had lain there unrained on all these years, have been collected and shipped off to Oxford. The problem was that most of them were unreadable because the characters could not be seen. Then about ten years ago, new satellite technology ("spectral imaging") allowed them to be visualized.

The project has been recovering literature from Sophocles, Euripides, etc. that no one had thought would ever be seen again. Now Oxford has a website where anyone can assist the project by transcribing these papyri.

If you're interested, you can try it out here at the Oxford University website.

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