Greek and Latin papyri

Papyrus 131, frame 1. The Aristotelian Constitution of the Athenians. Egypt (Hermopolis), c. 100 AD

The British Library holds one of the most important collections of papyri in the world.

About the collection

The British Library holds over 3000 papyri, along with several thousand unframed fragments. Greek and Latin papyri are cared for by Western Heritage Collections. Papyri in other languages are cared for by Asian and African Collections.

The papyrus series runs from Papyrus 1 to Papyrus 3136. The Egerton Papyri (37 in total) form a separate sequence.

What is available online?

Brief descriptions of published papyri are available on the British Library Explore Archives and Manuscripts catalogue. All framed papyri have been digitised, and are being made available on Digitised Manuscripts. Further information about published papyri can be found on the Trismegistos database.

What is available in our Reading Rooms?

Almost all papyri in the Papyrus and Egerton Papyrus series can be ordered to the Manuscripts Reading Room. A small number, including some of the most famous papyri, require special permission before they are issued. Access to the papyrus fragments is restricted. For further details, contact the Manuscripts and Maps Reference Team in the first instance.

When requesting a papyrus to the Manuscripts Reading Room, the British Library inventory number must be used: see Find Papyri for information on converting from other references.

Papyri acquired before 1956 are catalogued in the Catalogue of Additions series. Specialist catalogues also exist and can be consulted in the Manuscripts Reading Room.

What is available in other organisations?

Papyri in Egyptian languages, such as hieroglyphics and demotic, are preserved in the Department of Egyptian Antiquities of the British Museum.