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papyrus3Imagine a collection of Egyptian papyri excavated at the end of the XIXth Century from the garbage mounds of what had been the City of the Sharp-Nosed Fish: Oxyrhyncus.

Imagine a variety of documents – from fragments of the Gospels to Thucydides, from plays to marriage certificates… The words, the art, the business, the thought – the great questions and the small worries of ancient lives, handed down across the millennia.

And now imagine, in our own XXIst Century, the University of Oxford publishing online high-resolution images of those papyri, and asking for help in transcribing and translating them. And papyrologists all over the world working on those ancient words to put together a consensus translation…

Well, this is the Ancient Lives Project. Isn’t there something incredibly beautiful in this story of ancient documents and modern technology and worldwide collaboration in a quest for what was?