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Oxford Bibliographies in Philosophy


Philosophy is one of the oldest areas of study with a long history of critical literature, and it remains a highly active field for new research and publishing. The number of books and articles published seems to increase every year. Much of the most recent work has moved online in one form or another, and older material that was once out of print or difficult to find is being made more easily available. The result being that today’s students and researchers have ready access to overwhelming array of potentially useful primary texts, journal articles, reference works, and a wide range of other resources. Oxford Bibliographies in Philosophy is designed to provide authoritative guidance. In contrast to print bibliographies and electronic indexes that simply list citations, this innovative online reference tool will combine the best features of a high-level encyclopedia and the best features of a traditional bibliography put together in a style that responds to the way people do research online.

(Text by the organizer)

Cinema has soon dealt with historical events, and yet to retrive distant times is not so easy. During the shooting of Land of the pharaohs, Howard Hawks bitterly complained not to know how a pharaoh used to speak and think. Staging the past cannot avoid to face present matters, such as archaeological and historical knowledges or the concerns of the artists and of the spectators.

The French national Library hold in its collections many films inspired by Antiquity. Here is a brief panorama which we will detail in three blog posts, starting from the book written by Hervé Dumont, L’Antiquité au cinéma : vérités, légendes et manipulations[Antiquity in cinema : truths, legends and manipulations], which lists the films from the origins of this medium until 2009.

1st post : Egypt. By the duration of its civilisation, its prestigious sovereigns and its monumental architecture, Egypt went on screen since the beginning of the cinema.

Lire cet article en français: ici

[this article was written in french, and translated by L’Antiquité à la BnF, pour lire la version française, cliquer ici / to read the french version, follow this link]

Egypt restored

From the documentary film side, the palette is wide, ranging from the most extravagant theories related to esotericism to the most advanced scientific techniques. Many themes show up regularly : the sphinx, the pyramids, the rituals related to death, the hieroglyphs, while some kings have acquired a status of « stars » for the historical documentary : Tutankhamun, Nefertiti, Ramesses II and Cleopatra.

Note that the first feature film entirely produced in Egypt is a documentary Fî bilâd Tutankhamun [In the Land of Tutankhamun], realised in 1923 by Victor Rosito and photographed by Mohamed Bayumi. It recounts the discovery of the tomb of Tutakhamun, replayed by actors.

Way of disseminating knowledge, the cinema enables organisations such as the CNRS [the french National Center for Scientific Research] or television stations such as Arte [the European culture channel], the BBC [British Broadcasting Corporation] or Discovery Channel to keep a wide audience updated of archaeological discoveries. This is for example the case for the excavations carried out in Saqqara by Christiane Ziegler and the Louvre Museum’s team (Les trésors enfouis de Saqqara [The buried treasures of Saqqara], by Frédéric Wilner, 2004), in Alexandria by Jean-Yves Empereur (La septième merveille du monde : le phare d’Alexandrie [The seventh wonder of the world: the lighthouse of Alexandria], by Andrew Snell and Thierry Ragobert, 1996), and the portrait of Jean-Philippe LauerJean-Philippe Lauer, voyage à Saqqara [Jean-Philippe Lauer, a travel to Saqqara] realised by Nick Quinn (1996).

Documentary and fiction are sometimes closely related. It is interesting to see how an artist like Jacques Brissot, assisted by Pierre Schaeffer, uses the photos of the monuments, the music, the text and the images of the Egyptian countryside of the late 1950s in Egypte, ô Egypte [Egypt, Egypt] (3 episodes from 1959 to 1962 : Un présent du fleuve [A Gift from the river], Dans ce jardin atroce [In this atrocious garden], Formules pour l’au-delà [Formulae for beyond]), how Roberto Rossellini speaks of the Egyptian civilisation in La lotta dell’uomo per la sua sopravvivenza : 2 : la civilità que nasce da un fiume[The Struggle of man for his survival : 2 : the civilisation that is born from a river] (a documentary produced by the RAI [italian radiotelevision] in 1970, rare and unfortunately visible only on Youtube without subtitles) or how Jonathan Stamp tells the construction of the great pyramid of Giza though a character, Nakht, in Pyramid : beyond imagination (produced by the BBC in 2002).

Fantasy Egypt

Apart from documentary views on the pyramids, Georges Méliès is undoubtedly the very first director to evoke Ancient Egypt in Le monstre [The Monster] of 1903, which can be seen in the second DVD of the Georges Méliès : le premier magicien du cinéma box [Georges Méliès : the first magician of the cinema], 1896-1913.

The mummies and the legend of their curses, due to the misadventures of some archaeologists, are at the origin of a number of horror films, starting with Karl Freund in 1932 (The mummy with Boris Karloff as Imhotep), until Stephen Sommers (The Mummy, 1999 and its sequels) and Terence Fisher’s The Mummy (known in French under the title : La malédiction des pharaons, [The Curse of the Pharaohs], 1959, with Christopher Lee as the Mummy).

Few Egyptian directors have evoked Antiquity in their films. It was, however, the case of Shady Abdel Salam, who mentioned the looting of graves in the Luxor region at the end of the 19th century, when Gaston Maspero was director of the service of antiquities, in Al-mummia (The Mummy, also called The Night when the years are counted, 1969), and Al-Fellah el fasih (The Eloquent Peasant, 1970), a 20-minutes short film inspired by an Egyptian tale of the Middle Kingdom. He was never able to realise his great project, Akhenaten. As for Youssef Chahine, he is the author of a televised fiction, Al-mohajer, whose main character, coming from a poor tribe, is hosted by an Egyptian notable (The Emigrant, 1994, Egyptian-French co-production).

Ancient Egypt seen by Hollywood appears through Biblical episodes, beginning with The ten commandments (by Cecil B. De Mille, who realised two versions, in 1923 and 1954, both visible in this box). For producers, The Bible is indeed the mean to interest the American public in ancient history, far from the traditions of the countries of emigrants coming from northern Europe.

Strangely, two of the most famous novels inspired by Ancient Egypt were adapted only once to the cinema: Théophile Gautier’s Le roman de la momie [The mummy’s Romance] was brought to the screen by Albert Capellani in 1911Sinuhe egyptiläinen [The Egyptian], by Mika Waltari, was adapted in 1954 by Michael Curtiz (The Egyptian). As for the novel by Agatha Christie, Death comes as the end, whose action takes place in Pharaonic times, it only has been in 2017 for the BBC.

Eventually come the Pharaohs in Land of the pharaohs by Howard Hawks (1955) and in Farao by Jerzy Kawalerowicz (Pharaoh, 1966, after Boleslaw Prus). The construction of the pyramids and the colossal means employed, the exoticism of costumes and landscapes, everything is done so that the viewer is fascinated by the spectacle, while the influence of the priests and the sacralisation of power allows a political discourse.

Cinema also loves fatal beauties. If Nefertiti appeared in some films, for example, Nefertite regina del  Nilo, Fernando Cerchio (Nefertiti queen of the Nile, 1961) or Néfertiti, la fille du soleil [Nefertiti, the daughter of the sun], by Guy Gille (1994), the undisputed queen is Cleopatra, whose destiny is linked to the history of Rome. We will meet her in the forthcoming post.

Bibliography :

Hervé DumontL’antiquité au cinéma : vérité, légendes et manipulationsNouveau monde : Cinémathèque suisse, 2009.

Magda Youssef (dir.), Égypte, 100 ans de cinémaÉditions Plume : Institut du monde arabe, 1995.

Yvonne VosmannÄgyptenrezeption im Mumienfilm : The Mummy 1932 und RemakesHarrassowitz Verlag, 2016.

Juan J. Alonso, Enrique Á. Mastache, Jorge Alonso Menéndez, El antiguo Egipto en el cine, T&B, 2010.


Citer ce billet :

Antiquity and Cinema 1. Egypt

In english: https://antiquitebnf.

In french : Antiquité et Cinéma 1. Egypte https://antiquitebnf.

Census. Recenser et identifier les manuscrits par langue et par pays


La rencontre internationale « Census », du 12 au 13 octobre 2017, réunit de nombreux experts européens, du monde universitaire et des bibliothèques, pour réfléchir aux pratiques actuelles de recensement des manuscrits au sein des bases de données de référence et au sein des catalogues en ligne de bibliothèques. Ce partage d’expériences est l’occasion de mettre en lumière les nouveaux enjeux de recherche et les améliorations proposées au sein des différents outils et catalogues.

Les entreprises de recensement et de catalogage des manuscrits sont aujourd’hui en pleine évolution : les travaux sur support papier sont accompagnés, et de plus en plus souvent supplantés, par des outils électroniques.

Face à l’extrême diversité des solutions techniques et des modes de description mis en oeuvre, nous proposons une réflexion collective associant les chercheurs et les établissements de conservation. Le but de la rencontre, dont l’occasion est fournie par le 80e anniversaire de l’IRHT, est d’abord de confronter les expériences dans les divers pays et les divers champs linguistiques, afin de réfléchir ensemble aux moyens de mutualiser et de mettre en lien recensements et descriptions de manuscrits par langues, par pays, par type de manuscrits.

Ce colloque est organisé par François Bougard, Matthieu Cassin (IRHT) et Amandine Postec (BnF) en partenariat et avec le soutien de l’École pratique des hautes études (EA SAPRAT) et des laboratoires d’excellence HASTEC et RESMED.

(Text by the organizers)


Jeudi 12 octobre – Salle Jeanne-Vielliard, IRHT, Paris 16e

  • 9h15 – Accueil
  • 9h30 – Introduction : François Bougard et Matthieu Cassin (IRHT)

Recenser les manuscrits par langue : langues anciennes et médiévales – Présidence : François Bougard (IRHT)

  • 9h45 – M. Depauw (KU Leuven) : Trismegistos: cataloguing all ancient texts (BC 800 BC – AD 800)
  • 10h15 – M. Cassin (IRHT) : Pinakes (recenser et décrire les manuscrits grecs) et Diktyon (identifier les manuscrits grecs)

10h45 – Pause

Présidence : Brigitte Mondrain (SAPRAT, EPHE)

  • 11h – M. Rosenau (Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen) : Digital Coptic – DH Projects in Coptic Studies
  • 11h30 – A. Binggeli (IRHT) : E-ktobe : une base pour les manuscrits syriaques
  • 12h – J. Olszowy-Schlanger (SAPRAT, EPHE, IRHT) – Classer les manuscrits hébreux par leur aire de production : enjeux et problèmes méthodologiques

Recenser les manuscrits par pays – Présidence : Claudia Fabian (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, München)

  • 14h – R. Giel (Berlin, Staatsbibl. zu Berlin – Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Handschriftenabteilung) : Cultural objects and descriptions. Towards a new German Manuscript Portal
  • 14h30 – Ch. Flueler (Université de Fribourg) : Local – National – Global : How e-codices has made a national manuscript portal in Switzerland
  • 15h – Ch. Glassner (Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften) : – Manuscrits médiévaux en Autriche
  • 15h30 – L. Fagin Davis (Medieval Academy of America) : Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in North America : Identification, Digitization, and Discoverability

16h – Pause

Présidence – Pierre-Jean Riamond (Ministère de la Culture)

  • 16h20 – M. Maniaci (Università degli studi di Cassino) : Documentare i manoscritti greci d’Italia : riflessioni in margine ad un lavoro in corso
  • 16h50 – L. Negrini (ICCU, Roma) : Nuovi strumenti per la catalogazione in ManusOnLine: le Linee Guida per l’Authority File e la tastiera virtuale
  • 17h20 – A. Postec (BnF), C. Poiret (CCFr), P. Latour (Calames) : Recenser et décrire les manuscrits des bibliothèques publiques de France : les catalogues en ligne

Vendredi 13 octobre – Petit auditorium de la Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris 13e

  • 9h30 – Accueil et Introduction : Isabelle le Masne de Chermont (BnF)

Recenser les manuscrits par langue : langues modernes – Présidence : Isabelle le Masne de Chermont (BnF)

  • 9h45 – N. Busch (Universität Siegen) : Handschriftencensus. Medieval German Manuscripts
  • 10h15 – M.-L. Savoye (IRHT) : Les deux visages de Jonas : répertoire « exhaustif » des manuscrits contenant du français ou de l’occitan et outils d’analyse de corpus de recherche

10h45 – Pause

Présidence : Marie-Laure Savoye (IRHT)

  • 11h – G. Avenoza (Universitat de Barcelona) : Philobiblon (péninsule Ibérique : espagnol, catalan, galicien et portugais)
  • 11h30 – S. Bertelli (Università degli studi di Ferrara) : Les manuscrits de la littérature italienne des origines : une mise à jour
  • 12h – A. Bouwman (University Library, Leiden) et B. Besamusca (Universiteit Utrecht) : The Past, Present and Future of the Bibliotheca Neerlandica Manuscripta (BNM)

Ressources transversales et projets en cours – Présidence : Charlotte Denoël (BnF)

  • 14h – B. Giffard (IRHT, Biblissima), A.-M. Turcan (SAPRAT, EPHE, Biblissima) : Biblissima
  • 14h30 – C. Fabian (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, München) : Les manuscrits en réseau – réinvention, réorganisation et visibilité dans un nouvel écosystème
  • 15h – M. Cassin et H. Seng (IRHT) : Pour des identifiants uniques des manuscrits (ISMSN) : présentation d’un projet en cours

15h30 – Pause

Présidence : Anne-Marie Turcan (SAPRAT, EPHE, Biblissima)

  • 16h – Ch. Denoël et F. Siri (BnF) : Le programme Polonsky (BnF-British Library) : aspects scientifiques et interopérabilité des métadonnées
  • 16h30 – M. Bonicel (BnF) – L’innovation au service du partage des données : IIIF à la BnF
  • 17h – Conclusions


As part of the agreement signed on 12 November 2015 between the Hardt Foundation and the Swiss National Library, the series of Entretiens sur l’Antiquité classique (since 1952) has been digitised and is now accessible online with a moving wall of three years on the platforms and E-Helvetica Access.

Detailed list of published volumes

Database of Religious History

The DRH aims to be the world’s first comprehensive, online quantitative and qualitative encyclopedia of religious and social history. Open source, free and shaped in content and function by its users, it will function as a massive, standardized, searchable encyclopedia of the current best scholarly opinion on historical religious traditions and the historical record more generally, allowing users to instantly gain an overview of the state of scholarly opinion and access powerful, built-in analytic and data visualization tools.

(Text by the organizer)

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We are pleased to announce the Call for Papers for the sixth series of the Digital Classicist Seminar Berlin, organised in association with the German Archaeological Institute and the Interdisciplinary Research Network Digital Humanities in Berlin (ifDHb). It will run during the winter term of the academic year 2017/18.

We invite submissions on any kind of research which employs digital methods, resources or technologies in an innovative way in order to enable a better or new understanding of the ancient world. We encourage contributions not only from Classics but also from the entire field of “Altertumswissenschaften”, to include the ancient world at large, such as Egypt and the Near East.

Themes may include digital editions, natural language processing, image processing and visualisation, 3D developments and applications in the Cultural Heritage area, linked data and the semantic web, open access, spatial and network analysis, serious gaming and any other digital or quantitative methods. We welcome seminar proposals addressing the application of these methods to individual projects, and particularly contributions which show how the digital component can facilitate the crossing of disciplinary boundaries and answering new research questions. Seminar content should be of interest both to classicists, ancient historians or archaeologists, as well as to information scientists and digital humanists, with an academic research agenda relevant to at least one of these fields.

Anonymised abstracts [1] of 300-500 words max. (bibliographic references excluded) should be uploaded by midnight (CET) on 31 July 2017 using the dedicated submission form. Although we do accept abstracts written in English as well as in German, the presentations are expected to be delivered in English. When submitting the same proposal for consideration to multiple venues, please do let us know via the submission form. The average acceptance rate is 37%.

Seminars will run fortnightly on Tuesday evenings (17:15-19:00) from October 2017 until February 2018. The full programme, including the venue of each seminar, will be finalised and announced in September. As with the previous series, the video recordings of the presentations will be published online and we endeavour to provide accommodation for the speakers and contribute towards their travel expenses.

[1] The anonymised abstract should have all author names, institutions and references to the authors work removed. This may lead to some references having to be replaced by “Reference to authors’ work”. The abstract title and author names with affiliations are entered into the submission system in separate fields.

(Text by the organizers)


Bulgaria, September 2017


The Centre for Excellence in the Humanities to the University of Sofia, Bulgaria, has the pleasure to invite, for a fourth time, experts in the fields of Digital Humanities and Information Technologies to an Advanced Summer School in Digital Humanities.

 The event will take place in September 2017 in a nice mountain retreat near Sofia, Bulgaria (tbc). The Summer School  will include the following modules:

  • Training in Linked Spatial Data, Geo-annotation, Visualisation and Information system (Geography and Topography) – with Valeria Vitale and Gabriel Bodard (School of Advanced Studies, University of London);
  • Training in Python for data extraction, enriching and cataloguing – with Simona Stoyanova and Gabriel Bodard (School of Advanced Studies, University of London);
  • Training in EpiDoc and TEI markup, use of vocabularies, and web delivery (including external URI use, XSLT customization, and entity normalization) – with Simona Stoyanova and Gabriel Bodard (School of Advanced Studies, University of London);
  • A parallel workshop for IT specialists on ‘Teaching Agile Project Management by Combining Group Interaction and Simulation’ by Eduardo Miranda (Carnegie Mellon University of Pittsburgh) and presentation on ‘Teaching Students to Engineer Data Intensive Scalable Systems’ by Mathew Bass (Carnegie Mellon University of Pittsburgh) and ‘Teaching Microservices architectures and technologies after SOA’ by Dimitar Birov (University of Sofia).


In the framework of the event, a round table on the current trends and the future developments of Digital Humanities in South-East Europe will be organized.

The event will take place between 7th and 11th September. The participation fee is 50 euros. The transport to and from the mountain resort and the accommodation and meals there will be covered by the organizers.

If you are interested in the Summer School, please send a Curriculum Vitae and a Motivation Letter stating your main areas of interest and expertise, the projects on which you are currently working, as well as which module(s) are relevant for your work and why you would like to attend them.

The applications should be sent to no later than 1 June 2017.


You can manage your subscription and view message archives at

(Text by the organizers)

Manuscript IDs – Identifiants des manuscrits


Plus les manuscrits sont catalogués, même édités en ligne, plus il est important de faciliter leur découverte et d’unifier les informations à leur sujet. Pour ce faire, il est essentiel d’avoir des notices d’autorité. Plusieurs pays ont récemment reconnu la nécessité d’attribuer des identifiants aux manuscrits. Les Manuscript IDs doivent permettre non seulement de reconnaître un manuscrit au niveau du contenu, mais aussi d’identifier un manuscrit comme une copie unique transmettant généralement plusieurs œuvres, et changeant assez souvent de localisation.

Conçue au départ comme une discussion informelle entre quelques membres du conseil scientifique de Biblissima, cette réunion a suscité un vif intérêt et s’est transformée en un congrès international qui regroupe des représentants de nombreuses parties intéressées, incluant de grandes bibliothèques nationales et d’importants projets de numérisation. La réponse enthousiaste autour de cette question d’actualité promet une rencontre très fructueuse.

Notre premier objectif est de rassembler des informations sur les méthodes nationales et institutionnelles dans différents pays. Nos intervenants de la première journée comprendront des représentants de la France, de l’Italie, de l’Allemagne, de la Suisse, du Royaume-Uni et des États-Unis. Puisque le but de cette première journée est d’identifier et de comparer les stratégies, les intervenants se concentreront sur la question des notices d’autorité des manuscrits et sur ce que les institutions ou projets ont réalisé afin de les rendre plus aisément repérables, soit dans les catalogues internes soit dans les catalogues collectifs qui moissonnent leurs données, dans une perspective de compatibilité avec le web sémantique. Ont-ils déjà intégré des Manuscript IDs dans leurs métadonnées ? Quelle approche a été adoptée ? Nous aimerions aussi connaître les problèmes et les défauts qui ont été rencontrés.

Le deuxième objectif de la réunion, le plus important, est d’établir un échange de vues international et de lancer une initiative commune en vue d’une normalisation des méthodes nationales ou institutionnelles. Le jeudi matin sera consacré entièrement à la discussion. Les catalogues des bibliothèques et les catalogues collectifs sont faits pour les livres, certains même seulement pour les livres publiés après 1850. L’enregistrement d’autres médias, spécialement les manuscrits, y est problématique. En améliorant la connexion entre les manuscrits et leurs métadonnées et en les rendant plus visibles et plus interopérables, les manuscript IDs pourraient jouer un rôle important pour changer la situation actuelle.

(Text by the organizers)



Mercredi 26 avril 2017 – 13h-18h

  • F. Bougard (IRHT) – Accueil
  • Ch. Flüeler (Université de Fribourg) – Why Manuscript IDs ? – Pourquoi avons-nous besoin d’identifiants de manuscrits ?
  • C. Fabian (BSB) – Les manuscrits médiévaux et leurs identifiants : approches autorité et portails en Allemagne.
  • A. Postec (BnF) – Identifier les manuscrits à la Bibliothèque nationale de France : des cotes aux ARK
  • M. Ridge (BL) – Manuscript cataloguing and identifiers at the British Library


  • N. Herman (Projet SDM) – Ressources potentielles pour la création d’identifiants universels de manuscrits avec le Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts et Digital Scriptorium
  • A.-M. Turcan-Verkerk (Projet Biblissima) : Cotes attestées, historiques, factices, actuelles : pour la création d’un International Standard Manuscript Shelfmark Number


  • R. Gamper/K. Zimmermann (Projet Handschriftencensus ) : Handschriftencensus – With the Licence to Standardise. IDs for German Medieval Manuscripts.
  • M. Cassin (Projet Diktyon) : Réseau de bases de données sur les manuscrits grecs et identifiants uniques.


Jeudi 27 avril 2017 – 9h30-11h30

  • Discussion (F. Bougard, C. Fabian, Ch. Flüeler, A.-M. Turcan-Verkerk) – Topics : Connectivity, Manuscripts in Library Portals, Manuscript Library Portals, Fostering Manuscript IDs worldwide, Desiderata, Next Steps.


  • Albritton, Benjamin L., Medieval Projects Director, Stanford Libraries, Stanford
  • Bernasconi Reusser, Marina, collaboratrice scientifique, e-codices, Suisse
  • Boserup, Ivan, Conservateur des manuscrits et des livres anciens, Bibliothèque royale, Danemark
  • Bougard, François, Directeur, IRHT, Paris, France
  • Cassin, Matthieu, Projet « Diktyon », IRHT, Paris
  • Drescher, Veronika, Université de Fribourg, PhD student, University of Fribourg, Suisse
  • Duba, William O., chef de projet, Fragmentarium, Suisse
  • Dunning, Andrew, Curator of Medieval Historical Manuscripts, 1100 to 1500, The British Library, Royaume-Uni
  • Fabian, Claudia, Responsable, Département des manuscrits, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, München, Allemagne
  • Flüeler, Christoph, e-codices et Fragmentarium, Université de Fribourg, Suisse
  • Gabay. Simon, Université de Neuchâtel, SNF-157169 : « L’écriture privée au XVIIe siècle : étude philologique des manuscrits de Mme de Sévigné.
  • Gamper, Rudolf, Handschriftencensus, chercheur indépendant, Suisse
  • Glassner, Christine, Leiterin der Abteilung Schrift- und Buchwesen des Instituts für Mittelalterforschung, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien, Austria
  • Gullo, Daniel, Hill Museum & Manuscript Library, Assistant Director and Joseph S. Micallef Curator of the Malta Study Center.
  • Herman, Nicholas, Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts, UPenn Libraries, Philadelphia
  • Masset, Cyrill, “Medium”, IRHT, Paris
  • Mattmann, Beat, Universitätsbibliothek Basel
  • Murray, Jennifer, PhD candidate, Ligatur Research Center, University of Arts London, London
  • Paul, Suzanne, Keeper of Manuscripts and Archives, Cambridge University Library, Cambridge
  • Postec, Amandine, Conservateur au Département des Manuscripts – Service médiévale, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris, France
  • Ridge, Mia, Digital Curator, Digital Scholarship, The British Library, United Kingdom
  • Roux, Brigitte, Université de Genève, Genève
  • Schassan, Torsten, Digitale Editionen, Herzog-August-Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel
  • Siri, Francesco, BnF, Projet “Medium”, Paris
  • Trémault, Véronique, “Medium”, IRHT, Paris
  • Turcan-Verkerk, Anne-Marie, Responsable de l’équipement d’excellence Biblissima – Campus Condorcet, Paris, France
  • Wijsman, Hanno, Section de codicologie, histoire des bibliothèques et héraldique, IRHT, Paris, France
  • Zimmermann, Karin, Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg, German

The Nag Hammadi codices, ancient manuscripts containing over fifty religious and philosophical texts hidden in an earthenware jar for 1,600 years, were accidentally discovered in upper Egypt in the year 1945. A group of farmers came across an entire collection of books written in Coptic, the very language spoken by Egyptian Christians. The excavations, prepared by James M. Robinson, the former director of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity and Professor Emeritus at The Claremont Graduate School, did not occur until 1975 due to travel restrictions and a breakdown in political relations between the United States and Egypt.

This immensely important discovery included a large number of primary Gnostic scriptures. One text in particular received much attention – the Gospel according to Thomas, which was originally called ‘the secret words of Jesus written by Thomas’. These texts, scriptures such as the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip, and the Gospel of Truth, were once thought to have been entirely destroyed during the early Christian struggle to define « orthodoxy. »  The discovery and translation of the Nag Hammadi library, completed in the 1970’s, has provided momentum to a major reassessment of early Christian history and the nature of Gnosticism.

The images in this collection record the environments surrounding excavations, visiting dignitaries, and the scholars working on the codices. Today, the codices are conserved at the Coptic Museum in Cairo and due to their antiquity and exposure are no longer completely legible. Photographs fortuitously taken in the late 1970’s are one of the only means of deciphering the writing contained in these ancient texts.

The Nag Hammadi codices images in this collection are the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity’s J-Series negatives taken by Basile Psiroukis in September 1973. They are an earlier and different set of photos than the ones published by E. J. Brill from 1973-79 as The Facsimile Edition of the Nag Hammadi Codices. These earlier J-series negatives include the photographer’s notes and contain many differences, large and small, from the Brill photos. Every effort has been made to match these negatives to the later UNESCO photographs published by E. J. Brill. Additional series’ of the codices are soon to be digitized and will be added to the collection.

(Text by the organizers)