Homeric papyri survive in greater numbers than papyri containing the works of any other ancient author. They range in size from tiny scraps to substantial portions of bookrolls. The British Library alone holds some 33 papyri bearing quotations from Homer. By far the grandest of these is Papyrus 114, the Bankes Homer. It is named for the explorer and Egyptologist William John Bankes (1786–1855), for whom the papyrus was purchased in Elephantine, Egypt, in 1821. It contains the bulk of the text of the final book of Homer’s Iliad (lacking the first 126 lines). The fragment when unrolled measures over 2.3 metres in length. It is rare to find a papyrus preserved in such a good condition.
After Bankes’ death, the papyrus eventually passed by descent to his relative William Ralph Bankes (1853–1904), who sold it to the British Museum in 1879.