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Updated 3:00 PM July 30, 2007




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Papyrology Congress, exhibit scheduled

The Department of Classical Studies will host the 25th International Congress of Papyrologists July 29-Aug.4—the first in 27 years to be held in the United States.

The International Congress of Papyrologists occurs every three years and is considered the most important intellectual event in the field of papyrology.

The congress coincides with the U-M Special Collections Library exhibit "Diversity in the Desert: Daily Life in Greek and Roman Egypt." It offers an intimate glimpse at the personalities, customs and sensibilities of antiquity with artifacts from U-M Library's papyrus collection. Written in Greek, Latin, Demotic Egyptian and Coptic, the texts date from 2nd-century B.C. to 8th-century C.E.

Michigan curators have gleaned some unique and never-before displayed objects: 26 original papyri, three wooden tablets and a potsherd to conjure a portrait of daily life in ancient Egyptian world. Among the artifacts is a portion of Homer's "Iliad," letters from a soldier to his mother, and a correspondence between two women in which one of the women asks the other to become her wet-nurse.

The historical significance of the relics comes to life in a series of accessible and easy-to-read labels. Visitors also will learn about the conservation process and the secrets held within papyri.

U-M holds one of the largest papyrus collections in the world and is a leader in research, interdisciplinary approaches, and innovative applications of modern technology in the field. In recognition of its contributions and strengths in related disciplines such as Egyptology, archaeology, classical studies and ancient history, the International Association of Papyrologists (AIP) voted unanimously during the plenary session of the 24th Congress (Helsinki, August 2005) to make Ann Arbor the venue of its next congress. Previous events were held in Ann Arbor 1968 and New York 1980.

The triennial congress in papyrology attracts a variety of scholars and graduate students whose work borders the field of papyrological studies, not only professional papyrologists, but also ancient historians, historians of law, Egyptologists, archaeologists, specialists in ancient Greek and Roman literature, and ancient religions, including early Christianity and many more. The strengths of the University in all these fields make it the ideal location to host the congress, organizers say. A key theme will be the cross-disciplinary nature of the papyri and new approaches to the study of ancient Egypt.

The Diversity in the Desert exhibit is from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m.-noon Saturdays on the seventh floor of the Hatcher Graduate Library.

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