Houghton Library’s collection of papyri consists of 84 manuscripts dating from the 3rd century BC to the 6th century AD. Most of the papyri come from Oxyrhynchus, but there are also papyri from Hibeh and from the Fayûm. The collection comprises both literary and documentary texts. They are all written in Greek except for one (P. Oxy. 6.987), which is a bookplate written in Coptic. These papyri were given to the Semitic Museum at Harvard by the Egypt Exploration Fund, London, between 1901 and 1909. The Semitic Museum received this “gift” in return for the purchase of a life membership in the Egypt Exploration Fund for $125 by Jacob H. Schiff, the museum’s principal benefactor. In 1960 the papyri were transferred to Houghton Library.
The collection includes papyri from Oxyrhynchus, Fayûm, and Hibeh. Among the literary texts are papyri of Isocrates, Homer, Plato, Thucydides, Demosthenes, Menander, and the Gospels. The documentary texts include contracts, petitions, lists, tax receipts, letters and other types of documents.
The Digital Papyri at Houghton Library website provides strategies for searching Houghton's papyri as well as links to digital images and to bibliographies related to these materials that were compiled by the Library.Learn More & Explore