April 21, 2005

More on Oxyrhynchus Papyri

The "classical holy grail" or unholy hype?
With all of these questions about the article, I decided to wait until after my seminar today to write it up. I'm glad I did, because Martinez seemed fairly surprised and a bit skeptical about the news. Some of the papyrologists on the "PAPY list," the listserv where many papyrologists from around the world make announcements, ask questions, etc., were openly derisive of the article. Most of the criticisms that I've raised above were raised on the list, and none of the postings (there were only a handful so far, but by non-lightweights) were inclined to take the article's hyperbolic claims at face value.

Furthermore, the page that appears to describe the project referenced in the article looks more like a digital archiving project than a new imaging project, and it contains nothing that would support the claims made in the article. But maybe I've got the wrong page. I couldn't find anything by googling BYU, which is supposed to be involved in this.

So as of right now, the rest of the papyrological community is waiting to hear Dirk Obbink at Oxford either back up for disavow the claims made in the article. At the very best, the Independent's reporters are covering some kind of new imaging breakthrough in an extremely hyperbolic fashion. And at the worst, they're trying to make a major story out of 20-year-old news.

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