We’ve just posted our latest update to the Kyprianos Database of Ancient Ritual Texts and Objects.
There are two major changes with this update.
- The first is that we have decided to make available the raw data behind Kyprianos in the form of CSV files, in order to allow other users to explore the data more readily. The files for the Manuscripts and Texts tables may be downloaded from the Database Help page (“About the Kyprianos Database”). These files can be opened with most text editing and spreadsheet or database programs, and will allow the database to be reconstructed, searched, and statistics generated, without the need to use the online version. Unfortunately the archives table, which is more complex in its structure, is not at present available for download.
- Following its meeting on 16 July, 2022, the International Association for Coptic Studies adopted a new Resolution on the Ethical Handling of Cultural Heritage. The draft version of this resolution may be viewed here. This resolution is intended to deal with the serious problem of antiquities trafficking, which poses a danger not only to the cultural heritage of Egypt, but also to the lives and wellbeing of many people both in and outside of Egypt. The most salient part of the resolution for the Kyprianos database is §6, which states that “[a]ntiquities now in foreign collections should not be studied, presented, or published if they are not clearly documented as having been outside of Egypt before 1983”, the date of the Egyptian law 117 on the protection of antiquities. In order to conform to this resolution, Kyprianos will not include any text entries from manuscripts in foreign collections which post-date 1983. We will continue to include the physical descriptions of manuscripts in the manuscripts table, in order to allow them to be tracked by scholars in the case of future sales, but in place of a description of their contents will be a summary of the resolution. We will continue to seek out and present information on the acquisition of all manuscripts in our database. We have written about some of the ethical problems arising from the presence of Egyptian manuscripts in foreign collections in the past, and we encourage our readers to look at both the the perspectives of the scholars cited in this post in order to better understand the reasons behind this change.
With these notices out of the way, let’s look at the contents of the new update:
- 51 new manuscript entries, bringing the total to 1110.
- These contain new Greek, Coptic, Demotic, and Aramaic manuscripts from Egypt and elsewhere dating to the first millennium CE. We are particularly grateful to Anne Sieberichs, who is currently responsible for entering manuscripts from a checklist of Aramaic incantation bowls prepared by Ortal-Paz Saar. We have also made several important corrections to previously uploaded entries.
- The update also includes a selection of 17 hymns with the theme of the Nativity, probably recited around Christmas. These are from the checklist prepared by friend of the project Ágnes Mihálykó, who wrote a very nice blog post over at Papyrus Stories, where you can learn about some of these texts.
- 28 new text entries, bringing the total to 234. These are:
- The 23 recipes of P. Heid. Inv. Kopt. 686. The long prayer attributed to the Archangel Michael has been part of Kyprianos for some time (and even has its own podcast episode!), but now the recipes for using it for purposes as diverse as removing a curse of impotence and freeing a man from prison are edited and available to read.
- The remaining recipes of P. Heid. Inv. Kopt. 685, copied by the same scribe. These include an invocation of the Nine Guardians who protect the body of the Trinity to protect the user, and a prayer to stop bleeding which adapts the text of Septuagint Psalm 44 (45 in the Masoretic numbering).
- BM EA 29528 (KYP M335/T392), A strange narrative charm in which Jesus encounters a “pupil” outside the gates of heaven, and promises to send Michael to heal it. Like many of the other “narrative charms”, this text was edited in collaboration with Roxanne Bélanger Sarrazin.
- 2 new image tracings, bringing the total to 46, including the image of the Three Youths shown at the top of this post.