Survey of the collection
The Papyrus Carlsberg Collection is a very rich collection of fundamental importance. Above all it includes the largest share of the scattered material from the Tebtunis temple library. Dating to the first and second century AD, it is the only temple library from ancient Egypt of which substantial remains are preserved and the immense literary material - estimated at several hundred manuscripts - makes it by far the richest, single source for Egyptian literary texts known to date. The majority of the texts are written in the hieratic and demotic scripts, although there are also texts written in hieroglyphs and in Greek. More or less all types of Egyptian literature are represented in the temple library.
Besides the material from the temple library, the collection includes an archive of self-dedications and large number of fragmentary documentary papyri from the temple and the city of Tebtunis which mostly date to the Hellenistic era. It further includes papyri from Edfu (temple accounts), Gebelein (private archive), Hawara (private archive), Hermopolis, Mendes (official archive), Philadelphia, and Thebes. From Edfu come two papyri which were purchased as rolls and which are the two longest known accounts in the Demotic script with a length of about 9 metres each (2nd cent. BC). The Hawara material includes both Demotic and Greek texts from a family archive dating to the 3rd cent. BC. The earliest papyrus in the collection is a fragment of a hieratic letter from c. 2000 BC.
As of August 2015, 925 individual manuscripts have been inventoried, some of which have been pieced together from dozens or even hundreds of fragments. Altogether these manuscripts represent more than 2,500 fragments which have been studied and sorted over many years. The collection still includes thousands of fragments that remain to be sorted and identified.
Accounts of the Tebtunis temple library:
- Kim Ryholt, "On the Contents and Nature of the Tebtunis Temple Library: A Status Report", in Sandra Lippert and Maren Schentuleit (eds.), Tebtynis und Soknopaiu Nesos: Leben im römerzeitlichen Fajum (Wiesbaden, 2005), pp. 141-70.
- Alexandra von Lieven, "Religiöse Texte aus der Tempelbibliothek von Tebtynis - Gattungen und Funktionen", in Sandra Lippert and Maren Schentuleit (eds.), Tebtynis und Soknopaiu Nesos: Leben im römerzeitlichen Fajum (Wiesbaden, 2005), pp. 57-70.
- Joachim F. Quack, "Die hieratischen und hieroglyphischen Papyri aus Tebtynis - Ein Überblick", in Kim Ryholt (ed.), The Carlsberg Papyri 7. Hieratic Texts from the Collection (Copenhagen, 2006), pp. 1-7.
- Kim Ryholt. "Et Tempelbibliotek fra Romertidens Ægypten." Tidernes Morgen. På sporet af kulturens kilder i det gamle Mellemøsten, pp. 149-62. Meddelelser fra Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Ny Serie, 10. Copenhagen: Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, 2008.
General accounts of the Papyrus Carlsberg Collection:
- Aksel Volten, "The Papyrus-Collection of the Egyptological Institute of Copenhagen", Archiv Orientalni 19 (1951), pp. 70-4.
- K.-Th. Zauzich, "Einleitung", The Carlsberg Papyri 1: Demotic Texts from the Collection (Copenhagen, 1991), pp. 1-11.
- Paul John Frandsen, "Foragt ikke det små for at du ikke selv skal blive lille", Carlsbergfondet. Årsskrift 1993, pp. 39-45.
- Kim Ryholt, "Papyrus Carlsberg Samlingen: Litterære Skatte fra Oldtidens Ægypten", Carlsbergfondet. Årsskrift 2003, pp. 56-59.