The Ancient Historian

Ancient history, mountaineering, cycling and other outside adventures

The Ptolemaic Serapeum at Sakkara and the Archive of Ptolemy, son of Glaukias, the recluse

MemphisApis

I’ve been reading through the early part of a very famous archive from Sakkara, dated to the 160’s BC with students in my Daily Life in the Greek Papyri course this term. It is one of the most fascinating group of texts from the ancient Mediterranean world for sure. Dorothy Thompson’s (who by the way is the next Rostovtzeff lecturer here at Yale, November 2013) Memphis under the Ptolemies, Princeton U Press ( now just out in a 2d ed.) analyzes the archive (all in Greek, but some of the petitions anyway were probably originally in Demotic and translated) in wonderful detail. The BBC did a kind of docudrama of some parts of the archive-makes for fun watching, especially after having read and thought about the texts. I was just recently in Vienna, where the famous Apis embalming text (mentioned in the film) is on display in a lonely corner of one of the rooms. A bit of a shame. It is a profoundly beautiful text written in the finest Demotic hand I’ve ever seen.  There are a few howlers in the film, but it’s fun. The actors are speaking mainly Moroccan Arabic, but there is some Coptic in the dialogue, attempting to vocalize the spoken demotic of the 2d century BC.

The file is here (may take a while to load)

And an American version in 5 parts on Youtube is here

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