The Ramesseum Papyri

R. B. Parkinson

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Papyrus conservator Bridget Leach examining fragments of the medical text of P. Ramesseum 3 (top).

For Bridget Leach and Myriam Krutzsch

The papyri and objects that were discovered in a plundered tomb-shaft under the Ramesseum were divided between several institutions, and one aim of this catalogue is to reunite all the papyri in photographic form for the first time since their discovery. It is a great pleasure and honour to acknowledge the international collaboration that has made this catalogue possible. First of all, I am indebted to Friederike Seyfried, Director of the Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung, Berlin, together with Verena Lepper and Myriam Krutzsch. My research on the artefacts owes a great deal to Karen Exell in the University Museum, Manchester; Helen Strudwick in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; Jennifer Houser Wegner in the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology: they have kindly supplied links and images as well as much other assistance. Janine Bourriau has discussed the artefacts of the find with me, and I am thankful for all her expertise. Lastly, Mme Nelson at the Ramesseum itself has been extraordinarily helpful and made my visits to the site of this find unforgettable.

This catalogue is part of the ongoing Ramesseum Papyri Research Project, which is a joint endeavour with the aforementioned institutions and also with the Oriental Faculty, Oxford. The texts of the individual catalogue entries have been prepared with the help of student curatorial interns from Oxford, including Margaret Maitland (2007–8) and Leire Olabarria (2010–11); I am hugely indebted to both of them. I am grateful to Pierre Meyrat for conversations about his research into the magical manuscripts (Meyrat 2011). I am also grateful to David Prudames, Tanya Szrajber, Josephine Turquet and Carolyn Jones for their help in turning the catalogue into a technical reality. Above all, my thanks are due to Bridget Leach for her friendship and professional comradeship over many years of dealing with these most fragile of all papyri. This online publication would also not have been possible without the photography of Lisa Baylis for the papyri in Berlin and of other British Museum photographers for the papyri in London.

Papyrus conservator Myriam Krutzsch and Richard Parkinson with papyri in Berlin.

The photographs are each some 60 MB (TIFF) and are presented here as 72 dpi (jpg) at a maximum of 750 pixels wide. Copies of the images at a higher resolution can be ordered from the British Museum website (British Museum Papyri only)  and the Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung, Berlin.

The text of the two introductory essays is a revised and updated version of the account published in Reading Ancient Egyptian Poetry: Among Other Histories (Parkinson 2009); the reader is referred to that discussion for a more detailed analysis and interpretation of the date and context of the tomb-group. Here I concentrate on the visual presentation of the primary material.

In conclusion, I would emphasise that this catalogue is intended simply to stimulate further research and the British Museum would be grateful to receive contributions and notifications of study, so that the catalogue entries can be updated as our understanding of this wonderful group of texts advances.

R.B. Parkinson
Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan, British Museum
August 2011

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