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NOVA Segment on Papyri Features Harrington Fellows

Imaging Technologies Reveal Secrets of Oxyrhynchus Papyri

Posted: November 28, 2006

About the papyrus fragment: Adventures of Herakles (3rd century) " built up the one entrance and came in upon the beast through the other, and putting his arm round its neck held it tight till he had choked it...."—Apollodorus, The Library, Book II

While it might look like part of an ancient comic strip, this colored drawing comes from what was likely a schoolboy's reading assignment. The fragment and its accompanying text illustrate the first of the 12 famous labors plaguing the demigod Heracles: slaying the supposedly unconquerable Nemean Lion and bringing back its skin.

Other featured papyri include fragments of various gospels, ancient Greek plays, poetry of Sappho, advice for the lovelorn, instructions to those officiating in Greek, Roman and Egyptian cults, records of business and legal transactions including marriage contracts, loans and wills, works of philosophy, personal letters, and many more.

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