‘Oldest’ papyrus is decoded

Greek and foreign experts have used cutting-edge technology to decode the Greek text of the world’s oldest literary papyrus more than four decades after its discovery, it was revealed yesterday. The Derveni Papyrus – which has been in the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki since its charred fragments were found among the remains of a funeral pyre in 1962 – is described as a «philosophical treatise based on a poem in the Orphic tradition and dating to the second half of the 5th century BC.» »It is particularly important to us as it is the oldest (papyrus) bearing Greek text,» Apostolos Pierris, director of the Patras Institute of Philosophical Research, told Kathimerini. Experts from the institute, Oxford University and Brigham Young University, who decoded the papyrus and aim to reassemble it, are to hold a press conference in Thessaloniki today. The papyrus is believed to be an invaluable document for the study of ancient Greek religion, philosophy and literary criticism.