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City Of The Sharp Nosed Fish: Greek Lives In Roman Egypt
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City Of The Sharp Nosed Fish: Greek Lives In Roman Egypt

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  43 ratings  ·  8 reviews
In 1897 two Oxford archaeologists began digging a mound south of Cairo. Ten years later, they had uncovered 500,000 fragments of papyri. Shipped back to Oxford, the meticulous and scholarly work of deciphering these fragments began. It is still going on today. As well as Christian writings from totally unknown gospels and Greek poems not seen by human eyes since the fall o...more
Hardcover, 258 pages
Published 2007 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson
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Between 1896 and 1907 the British Egypt Exploration Fund employed Bernard Grenfell (1870-1926) and Arthur Hunt (1871-1934) to lead excavations in the Egyptian village of El-Behnesa, the site of the classical city of Oxyrhynchus (Sharp-Nosed Fish), with a view to discovering papyri from the city's Christian period when it was said to have been home to tens of thousands of monks and nuns.

The first digging season they discovered part of the then unknown Gospel of Thomas and over six seasons working...more
This has been sitting on my shelves since it first came out, and I only now got around to reading it - and I wish I'd done it sooner! This is a fascinating and engagingly written book about the Greco-Roman town of Oxyrhynchus in Egypt, and its papyrus finds. The book starts with a bit of the history of Egyptian exploration by modern Europeans, and then goes into more detail about the excavation of Oxyrhynchus itself (this was one of my favorite parts). After a chapter on pre-Roman Hellenized Oxy...more
For those of us who have encountered Roman-era Egypt primarily as a mysterious land of philosophers, clerics, and monks, Parson’s book provides a healthy corrective. As the author notes, “Patriarchs have their historians, monks have their devout anecdotes. Ordinary people leave their mark through the papyrus documents, the worm’s-eye view of Christianity on the march in Egypt, as seen in the lives of its followers and the circulation of its texts” (196). The wealth of material from Oxyrhynchus i...more
I don't think this book is as engaging as it could have been -- like, say, if Philip Matyszak had written it -- but it's far from dry either. The story is of a minor Greco-Egyptian city in ancient times that, through accident of location, wound up yielding an archaeologist's wet-dream in the form of a two-thousand-year-old city dump full of papyrus debris such as letters, receipts, petitions, schoolboys' notebooks, lists, cartoons, etc etc etc, that shows in a way that nothing else can what life...more
Grady McCallie
In 1897, archeologists discovered the trash of the ancient town of Oxyrhynchos, well south of Cairo. The massive trove of papyrus unearthed from the site has taken over a century to translate -- the work continues even now. In this book, Peter Parsons, longtime head of the translation project, draws on the corpus to describe the social, economic, and political structure of the town in the first through the fourth centuries A.D. The book is interesting, but for a non-specialist, much of the detai...more
A detailed and readable reference tool documenting life in Oxyrhynchus two thousand years ago.
If anyone ever tells you history is boring and irrelevant, have them read this.
Surprisingly readable.
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