More About Papyri

There are four aspects to work on the papyri.

Discovery. At Herculaneum the exciting prospect exists of discovering the rest of the library in the unexplored part of the Villa of the Papyri. Completing the excavation poses major problems, however. This is a long-term goal.  In the meantime the Society promotes preservation of the excavated part, and calls for the development of a completion strategy.

Preservation. The Herculaneum papyri are as fragile as burnt newspaper and require extraordinary care. They are housed in the Officina dei Papiri in the Biblioteca Nazionale, Naples, where scholars supported by the Society have done important work.

Editing. The Herculaneum papyri are unbelievably difficult to read. Reading black ink on charcoal-black, carbonised papyri, the naked eye can often see only a few letters. Modern technology comes to the rescue with multi-spectral scanning, which can bring all the letters to life as if written yesterday. The Society funds scholars and students who transcribe and publish the papyri. Several of its trustees do this professionally. For more information and pictures on this aspect, follow the 'Papyri' link under 'Other Resources' in the menu or click here.

Interpretation. Once edited, the texts need to be translated and explained. They provide brilliant glimpses into the cultural life in the first century AD, the time of the philosopher Philodemus whose personal books were part of the Villa's library. The Society supports students and scholars seeking to understand these amazing papyri and the world that produced them.

Your donation goes directly to supporting the preservation, editing and interpretation of the papyri. The future of the Villa of the Papyri is a matter for the Italian authorities to determine but the Society is greatly interested. If you wish to know more about this subject please contact us.