Papyrus balls

Preserved in the desert sands of Egypt

The oldest evidence of biblical manuscripts from antiquity is usually found on rubbish tips or in graves. In the desert sands of Egypt, they have kept particularly well over centuries and millennia. Protected from light and low humidity, papyrus remains intact for a long time. The oldest fragments of the writings of the New Testament come from there. Opposite the oasis of Fayum on the east side of the Nile, the oldest parts of the Gospel of Matthew were found in clay jars in a cemetery.

2021 04393 NT Papyrusknaeuel

Original papyrus ball from Egypt

Coptic characters from late antiquity

Among the finds on display in the Bibelhaus is an original papyrus ball from Egypt that has not yet been unrolled. It bears Coptic characters from late antiquity. Papyrus finds can contain valuable ancient literature, even if they are discarded exercise books in which the literary works would have been used to practise writing. Sometimes they are simply economic texts that today contain valuable information about the lives of people back then.

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