Papyrology is one of the most digital-friendly ancient disciplines. Most of the journals are accessible online, and increasingly, so are the texts. One of the most important sites for papyrological research is papyri.info. It pulls the information from several other papyrology sites into a single-search tool.
The easiest way to use papyri.info is the “Search the Navigator” function. This takes you to the main search page, where you can choose a number of different options. I always choose to convert from betacode into Greek characters as I type:
In the example above, I’m searching for wine receipts. You can see that I’ve made use of a few of the searching options: hashtag (#) indicates the beginning of the word, so in the second line I can find only the derivatives of οἴνος (you can also use the LEX button for this, but I’ve found that it works less well with advanced searches). Another option for eliminating words you don’t want (while being flexible with declensions) is the START-NOT/END-NOT option. This allows you to choose the beginning of a word while excluding the end (or vice-versa for END-NOT). For example, if you wanted to find people named Alexandros (but not the city Alexandria), you could type ‘Αλεξανδρ START-NOT ια’.
Here, I’ve also combined oin- with a word for a type of jar to limit the hits I get. But if you’re only looking for a single word, you can do a simple search and use only the one field.
Hitting “return” will run the search for you. The default results per page is 15; I usually prefer to see my results all as one, and this can be changed by manually altering the number in the results field.
If you want, at this point you can still refine your search, either with further words or by provenance, century, language, etc.
Almost every papyrus and ostrakon will have a transcription; some have translations as well (but not necessarily into English — they come from the initial publications); more have images, either on-site (via APIS) or linked (through the owning library/museum/university). If you are able to read Greek fairly well, you will have more accurate search results by not requesting translations. All of your hits will come with a title, provenance (if known), and date (estimated or based on the text):
The trickiest part is actually starting a new search. The site is set to “refine search” automatically, so if you want to start a new search, you will have to remember to hit the “new search” button — or, once you’ve searched, hit the “X” in the black box that shows your results.
Luckily, those mistakes are pretty easy to pick up.
Tips to remember:
- convert from betacode as you type
- ignore accents and breathing
- use smart searching like hashtags, AND, and NOT
- use “new search” button unless you want to refine your original search
Greek research tools: papyri.info by https://libraryofantiquity.wordpress.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.