BNU

In additional to its substantial collections of papyruses, the BHU also houses a number of collections of ancient items on other media. Above all there is a very large collection of ostraca, comprising 4 958 documents mostly written on fragments of terracotta, but also on limestone and on bone. The collection is arranged by language or script:

  • in Arabic: 9 (some on bone),
  • in Aramaic: 6,
  • in Coptic: 624,
  • in demotic Greek: 2038,
  • in Greek: 1923,
  • bilingual Greek and demotic Greek: 100,
  • in hieratic: 251,
  • in an unidentified script: 7.

Ostraca démotique: © BNU – JPROstraca démotique: © BNU – JPR


The collection is thus dominated by items in one or other of the languages in use in Egypt; the items are for the most part rather modest, but some are very venerable because of their content, such as the oldest existing written version of a "Hail Mary" in Greek.

An inscription similar to an ostracon although it is not is on a large jar the Germans who edited it called "Krug B". "Stele A" is conserved in Berlin - it is a funerary inscription written in ink on a pottery monument. The item is of course in a fragmentary state.

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