Dr. Ioanna Papadopoulou
Associate in multi-disciplinary research, Information Technology and Publications at the Center for Hellenic Studies – Harvard University
Dr. Polyxeni Adam-Veleni
Director of the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki
The Derveni Papyrus, commonly called “the oldest European “book”, is the only 4th century BC legible literary papyrus to be found on Greek soil. It was discovered near Derveni in 1962 during public works, about 10 km from Thessaloniki, near a small ancient town called Lete. The excavations brought to light the so called “Derveni tombs”, all of them unlooted except one. The carbonized roll was discovered on the slabs covering Derveni Tomb A together with other remains from the cremation of the deceased.
It is our great luck that this roll did not burn thoroughly, as it contains a treatise of extraordinary importance for our understanding of Greek religion and intellectual history, which confirms the early existence of Orphism. The (anonymous) author analyzes beliefs about afterlife and orphic cosmogony through an unusual interweaving of ritual, philosophy, science and poetry.
The editio princeps appeared in 2006, by Th. Kouremenos, G. Parassoglou and K. Tsantsanoglou. It contains 26 columns with 113 unplaced fragments, photographs of the papyrus, a translation and a commentary.
To make this edition -and more recent ones- easily accessible, the Center for Hellenic Studies (Harvard University) Mouseion Derveni Papyrus Project has developed a digital platform allowing simultaneous comparative display of the most recent editions.
In October 2015 the Derveni Papyrus was included in UNESCO’S Memory of the World Program.
In collaboration with the Center for Hellenic Studies – Harvard University and the Washington Society of the Archaeological Institute of America