Egypt Exploration Fund   [Hrsg.]
Archaeological report: comprising the work of the Egypt Exploration Fund and the progress of egyptology during the year ... — 1902-1903

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Peogeess of Egyptology.


At the close of last year's Beport mention was made of a newly-acquired
papyrus at Berlin, containing a poem by Timotlieus of Miletus. The publica-
tion of this papyrus by Prof. Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, in March
of the present year, is the principal event of literary interest to be recorded
now.1 The discovery was the fruit of an excavation conducted by Dr. L.
Borchardt on behalf of the Deutsche Orientgesellschaft at Abusir, near
Memphis, at the beginning of 1902. It consists of a papyrus roll, which,
together with pottery and other objects, was found with the coffin and
mummy of a man, evidently a Greek settler in Egypt of the earliest Mace-
donian period. The pottery is stated to be not later than b.c. 350, and the
palaeographical evidence is consistent with a date in the latter part of the
fourth century b.c. The forms of the letters (as may be seen from the
excellent facsimile) are not less archaic than those of the Curse of
Artemisia or the fragments published in GrenfeH's Greek Papyri, ii. ;
in some respects they are more so. If there were no external evidence to
assist us, we should perhaps not be entitled to claim a date earlier than
e.g. 300 ; but if, as we are told, the accompanying pottery points to au
earlier period, I see no palaeographical reasons for refusing to assign the
papyrus to a date between 350 and 300. It is consequently the earliest
extant Greek manuscript, and though it is written in a large and coarse
hand, which we cannot suppose was that employed by the best scribes for
literary works of any considerable size, it nevertheless helps us to realize
the appearance of a Greek book of the age of Demosthenes. It is of yet
greater interest, in that it restores to us a new author and a new species
of Greek poetry. The poem is a nomas, or libretto for an ode to be per-
formed to the accompaniment of the lyre, by Timotheus of Miletus, already
known to us by reputation as a bold innovator in musical art. It is the
poem of the Persae, of which one or two lines were already on record,
and which is known to have been composed about the time of the
expedition of Agesilaus against the Persians in Asia Minor (b.c. 396).
Its subject is the battle of Salamis ; and the recovery of a Greek poem on
such a subject, by a lost poet of high reputation, is necessarily an event
of the greatest literary interest. It is here, however, that disappointment
begins. The poem (of which the last four columns are preserved intact,
while the second column is fragmentary and the first completely lost)
proves to have no historical value except to a slight extent as evidence of
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