Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Oxyrhynchus! Time to brush up your translation skills.

Oxyrhynchus, site of a large and significant papyrus discovery as yet not entirely public, is a significant site in the ancient world.
It's basically the closest thing we have to discovering the Library of Alexandria in a landfill. Academics familiar with it throw around terms like "unparalleled importance" and "holy grail" and aren't trying to be hyperbolic. It contained a lot of other ancient literature that would otherwise be totally lost–most famously a Sophocles comedy and the poetry of Sappho–not to mention extensive details about everyday life in Egypt, Greece, and Rome. It also held the biggest cache of early Christian manuscripts ever discovered.
Oxyrhynchus was the site where a Greek fragment of the Gospel of Thomas was found. Here's a link to P.Oxy.1, P.Oxy. 654, and P. Oxy. 655 the Greek fragments of the Gospel of Thomas at Oxyrhynchus. The translation is an older one.

To accelerate translation of the materials, Oxford University in the UK recruited more than 250,000 volunteers who were willing to learn the ancient Greek alphabet and decipher the texts online. Now, they’re making their way through hundreds of thousands of them.
"By allowing public access to one of the largest unfinished archaeological projects in the world, we have been able to move beyond one scholar with a papyrus and a magnifying glass, to transcribe between 100,000 and 200,000 more texts - some of which had been partially eaten by worms, or used to wrap fish, or worse," Obbink told Adam Lusher at The Independent
Launched in 2014, the Ancient Lives Project gives anyone with a basic understanding of the ancient Greek alphabet the opportunity to access these texts online and try deciphering them. The transcripts are then cross-checked using software that draws data from existing texts and transcripts to verify the translation. 
"Even school children who have simply been taught the letters of the Greek alphabet can do it," Obbink told The Australian.

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