Monday, May 22, 2006

Oxyrhynchus Papyri on buildings














Oxford has a virtual exhibition on the Oxyrhynchus Papyri. Several of the papyri relate to buildings and building work.

One long scroll dated to AD 315-316 deals with repairs made to buildings. Some of the scroll deals with unidentified public buildings that were repaired in the centre of town, detailing repairs and building materials needed. We know that some of the workmen were injured, since the scroll also records a doctor who treated them. (Another scroll deals with a doctor inspecting the body of a man found hanged, an early form of autopsy in AD 173).

Another scroll deals with a 7th century AD irrigation cistern.

This scroll with a dedication to Diocletian and Maximian (AD 285-305) may have been used as a template for an inscription on a public building.

Most fascinating is this unique ground plan of a house preserved in a scroll. The Severan Marble Plan of Rome in the Templum Pacis depicted Rome, but this second century Oxyrhynchus ground plan is far more detailed (see enlarged illustration above, from the Oxford web site).

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