Derveni papyrus

The Derveni papyrus is an ancient Macedonian papyrus roll that was found in 1962. It is a philosophical treatise that is an allegorical commentary on an Orphic poem, a theogony concerning the birth of the gods, produced in the circle of the philosopher Anaxagoras. The roll dates to around 340 BC, during the reign of Philip II of Macedon, making it Europe's oldest surviving manuscript.[1][2] The poem itself was composed near the end of the 5th century BC,[3] and "in the fields of Greek religion, the sophistic movement, early philosophy, and the origins of literary criticism it is unquestionably the most important textual discovery of the 20th century."[4] While interim editions and translations were published over the subsequent years, the manuscript as a whole was finally published in 2006.

Derveni papyrus
Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki
Some fragments of the Derveni papyrus
TypePapyrus roll
Date340 BC, from an end 5th century BC original
Place of originMacedon
Language(s)Ancient Greek, mixed dialects
MaterialPapyrus
Size266 fragments
Format26 columns
ConditionFragmentary, charred from funeral pyre
ContentsCommentary on a hexameter poem ascribed to Orpheus
Discovered1962

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