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Advance booking is strongly encouraged for in person attendance in Senate House MakerSpace, room 265.

The seminar will also be live-streamed via:

A particularly demanding and time-consuming task for papyrologists is reconstructing multi-fragmented rolls. Not only is a thorough evaluation of their contents, handwriting, and material peculiarities required. Fragments of the same sheet or roll could have been dispersed in different collections worldwide, due to tangled distribution paths of Graeco-Roman antiquities from Egypt. To address this issue, in 2022 the universities of Florence and Genova and the CNR of Pisa launched, as a part of a project funded by the Italian Ministry, the development of a digital tool aimed at reorganising this kind of material: through AI, the software will use visual analysis to assess fragments by shape, ink, and fibres and detect possible joins quickly.

This paper will present some results of the study of the Papiri della Società Italiana (PSI) selected to train the machine, i.e. the fragments from the “deposit” of the Temple library of Tebtynis, dated to the second century AD. On March 10, 1931, the Italian mission headed by C. Anti discovered the remains of the library of the temple of Soknebtynis in two cellars. The material is a unicum, but badly preserved: papyri were found reduced to thousands of fragments.

Although these papyri are mostly Greek documents reused on the verso for Egyptian sacred books, their state of fragmentation has discouraged the study of the Greek texts, so far left behind their Egyptian counterparts. Therefore, I will discuss two documents drawn up on the recto of papyri composed of fragments split up between Florence and Copenhagen. Besides shedding light on the challenges raised by fragmented material, they demonstrate the importance of the Greek side of these artifacts – expected to be reconstituted with the help of human-machine interaction – for assessing the socio-cultural history of second century Tebtynis and templar communities in Roman Egypt.