The Papyrus Collection

The Papyrus Collection

The Museum of Ancient Cultures at Macquarie University, Sydney holds an important collection of some 640 papyri. These are mainly Greek texts, while there are some items written in other languages and scripts, notably Demotic and Coptic (Egyptian). Most are papyri in the strictest sense, texts written on the ancient Egyptian writing-material made from the stems of the aquatic papyrus plant, but the collection includes also some items written on ostraca (potsherds), parchment, and wooden tablets. Most of the texts date from the third century BC to the eighth century AD.

Highlights of the collection are: fragments of the New Testament book of Acts, Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, and the Egyptian Book of the Dead; an archive of Ptolemaic shipping documents; an archive of Ptolemaic land surveys; a complete Coptic magical codex; a large portion of the fourth-century AD archive of Aspidas; a bilingual prayer in Greek and Old Nubian; three Oxyrhynchus papyri (already long published as P.Oxy. X 1300, XII 1494, and XII 1592).

For Information on the Research and Development Committee, Previous and Current work, and Contact details, see the links to the left.

Current work

The first two P.Macquarie volumes are currently in preparation:

  • P.Macquarie I: A Coptic Magical Codex, edd. M. Choat and I. Gardner.
  • P.Macquarie II: Ptolemaic Documents, ed. R.R.E. Cook.

Two further volumes are planned

  • P.Macquarie III: Selected Greek, Coptic, Demotic, and Old Nubian texts.
  • P.Macquarie IV: The Aspidas Archive.

Also in preparation is:

  • A Palaeographical Handbook to the Macquarie Papyri, ed. D.C. Barker.

As a priority, the committee is working on a descriptive catalogue of the collection, which will be placed on this site. It is also hoped to make images of all the Macquarie papyri available online in the future. In the meantime, images of some are available in the right hand columns of these pages.


For general enquiries to the Macquarie Papyri Research and Development Committee please contact the Chair, Dr Trevor Evans.

Address: Dr T.V. Evans, Chair, Macquarie Papyri Research and Development Committee, Department of Ancient History, Macquarie University, Sydney NSW 2109, Australia
Phone: +61 2 9850 8780

Dr Malcolm Choat is coordinating publication of P.Macquarie volumes.

Address: Dr M. Choat, Department of Ancient History, Macquarie University, Sydney NSW 2109, Australia
Phone: +61 2 9850 7561

Dr Don Barker is also available to act as a point of contact.

Address: Dr D.C. Barker, Department of Ancient History, Macquarie University, Sydney NSW 2109, Australia
Phone: +61 2 9850 9962

Previous work

The three items from the Macquarie collection which have already received full published editions are:

  • Barker, D.[C.], 'A Christian Hymn? P. Macquarie inv. 346', ZPE 159 (2007), 281-2 (Corrigendum: 160 (2007), 134).
  • Emmett, A.M., 'An Unpublished Petition to Flavius Olympius (P.Macquarie inv. 358)', in Atti del XVII Congresso Internazionale di Papirologia (Napoli, 19-26 maggio, 1983) (Naples, 1984), 825-8.
  • Pickering, S.R., 'P. Macquarie Inv. 360 (+P. Mil. Vogl. Inv. 1224): (Acta Apostolorum 2.30-37, 2.46-3.2)', ZPE 65 (1986), 76.

In addition, brief description and partial transcription of P.Macquarie inv. 1-8 may be found in:

  • Treweek, A., 'The Macquarie University Papyri', AULLA XV Proceedings and Papers (1973), 7.15-7.16.

A further 57 documents have been edited in three unpublished doctoral theses by S.R. Pickering (1985), J.H. Midgley (1991), and R.R.E. Cook (1995). A set of 40 documents (overlapping with those mentioned above) are also discussed (and in several cases illustrated with small images) in S.R. Pickering and D.C. Barker, A Handbook to the Macquarie Papyri (Sydney, 1998).

The Macquarie Papyri Research and Development Committee

Every one of the papyri held at Macquarie has the potential to change some aspect of the way we think about our human past. Yet so far only three items from the collection have received full published editions. The Macquarie Papyri Research and Development Committee was therefore established in January 2008, following an original initiative of Dr John Lee, to oversee systematic publication of the collection.

The Committee's first objective is to publish two volumes in the next five years (2009-2013). In due course we envisage producing a total of at least four P.Macquarie volumes, along with a popular introduction to papyrology in general and to the Macquarie collection in particular. We are also planning electronic publication of all Macquarie fragments too small to warrant individual hard-copy editions.For further details see 'Current Work'.

The committee is comprised of the following:

This local committee takes advice from an international advisory panel:

  • Prof. Roger Bagnall (President of the International Association of Papyrologists; New York University)
  • Prof. Alan Bowman (University of Oxford)
  • Prof. Willy Clarysse (KU Leuven)
  • Dr Mark Depauw (KU Leuven)
  • Dr Nikolaos Gonis (University of London)
  • Prof. Greg Horsley (University of New England)
  • Dr Dirk Obbink (University of Oxford)
  • Dr Dorothy Thompson (University of Cambridge)
  • Assoc. Prof. John Whitehorne (University of Queensland)
  • Prof. Klaas Worp (University of Leiden)


Back to the top of this page