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Media Advisory

Long lost ancient papyri returned to UC Berkeley Center

12 October 2005

ATTENTION: Feature and higher education writers, photo editors, broadcast outlets

Contact: Kathleen Maclay
(510) 643-5651 kmaclay@berkeley.edu

A ceremony to celebrate the return to the University of California, Berkeley, of three tins of ancient papyri collected from Oxford University. The papyri were originally gathered from the ruins of the Egyptian community of Tebtunis west of the Nile during a UC Berkeley archaeological expedition in 1899 and 1900 at the behest of late university benefactor Phoebe Apperson Hearst.

Some of the materials on display at this event will include fragments of Euripides' "Phoenician Women" and Homer's "Odyssey," a priestly encyclopedia in hieroglyphics, and papers of an influential prophetess of the local Tebtunis crocodile god.

The papers are part of The Bancroft Library's Center for the Tebtunis Papyris, the largest collection of ancient Greek and Egyptian papyri in the western hemisphere.

2 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 18.

The Morrison Library within UC Berkeley's Doe Library, located near the center of campus. For a map, see http://www.berkeley.edu/map/.

Initially collected by excavators Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt, all the Tebtunis papyri were taken by these explorers to Oxford University, where they had planned to study the papers temporarily.

While most of the more than 30,000 papyri fragments were returned to UC Berkeley in the 1930s and 1950s, a recent collection inventory and the publication of three astronomical papyri by a professor at the University of Toronto inadvertently came together to bring these invaluable pieces of the Tebtunis collection home at long last.

Due to the extreme fragility of the Tebtunis papyri, there will be only one pool TV camera and one pool print photographer allowed to photograph the papers during the ceremony. Contact Media Relations at (510) 643-5651 in advance to express interest.

Some additional images will be available by e-mail through Media Relations.