Among its early manuscript collections, the Chapin Library holds a volume of hieroglyphic papyrus fragments from an Egyptian Book of the Dead, 7th century BCE, and a selection of Greek papyrus manuscript fragments from the archeological site at Oxyrhynchus, south of Cairo. The Book of the Dead was acquired by Alfred C. Chapin, Williams Class of 1869, and is part of the Library’s foundation. The Oxyrhynchus papyri were given to Williams in the 1920s by the Egypt Exploration Society, in appreciation for support by the college of exploration at Oxyrhynchus. They were transferred to the Chapin Library from the general library in 1954 and 1956.
A list of the Oxyrhynchus papyri in the Chapin Library follows, with identifications, dating, and fragment numbers given as in Bernard P. Grenfell and Arthur S. Hunt, The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, Part I (London, 1898). Descriptive text is in the Chapin Library’s bibliographical file.
1370 (1). Euripides, Medea, ll. 20–26, 57–64. 5th century CE.
1370 (2), (4–5), (6), (7), (8). Euripides, Orestes, ll. 445–449, 482–486, 685–690, 723–729, 811–817, 850–854, 896–898, 934–936, 907–910, 945–948. 5th century CE.
1370 (3). Euripides, Orestes, ll. 469–474, 508–512. 5th century CE.
1370 (9). Euripides, Orestes, ll. 1247–1263, 1297–1305, 1334–1345, 1370–1373. 5th century CE.
1401. Fragments of an unknown tragedy, perhaps from the same manuscript as 1370. 5th century CE.
1429. Letter of a lessee of the alum monopoly. 300 CE.1577. Business letter. 3rd century CE.
1643. Appointment of a representative to search for a fugitive slave. 298 CE.
1655. Baker’s account book. 3rd century CE.
1665. Letter of a gymnasiarch. 3rd century CE.
1709. Contract of a sale. 224 CE.
1754. Business letter. 4th or 5th century CE.
1766. Personal letter. 3rd century CE.
These materials may be used in the Archives/Chapin reading room in Sawyer Library, Room 441.