Mr Yakup Eksioglu, who according to information circulated by Mike Holmes is the source of the Green Sappho and many other papyri in that collection, has recently commented on two of Brent Nongbri’s posts concerning the newest-new Sappho news. The Turkish gentleman asks if we are interested in knowing the provence of the Sappho fragments (of course we are!) and denies that there are shady aspects in the history of those papyri (scroll down the comments here and here).
Since he is in the mood of speaking, I’d like to hear what he has eventually to say about some other papyri that I think also come from him and perhaps are with Mr Green.
In early November 2009 Scott Carroll announced on his public Facebook account that he was going to travel soon to Istanbul and Jerusalem for some shopping. These are indeed two most interesting cities for antiquities hunters. The first is the main location of Mr Eksioglu’s business, as he explained in his old website, mixantik.com, that you can still visit through archive.org. (The email is the same he is using now in case you wish to contact him, which I would not recommend on the basis of my own experience). In Jerusalem there is another famous emporium, Baidun Antiquities, that according to Mike Holmes/Museum of the Bible official statements sold to Hobby Lobby two of the fragments stolen from the Egypt Exploration Society collection.
But let us go back to Scott Carroll’s Facebook account. Although it has now sadly disappeared, a number of us have visited it in the past while it was public and created archives of the enlightening lectures in papyrology and other disciplines Carroll delivered in the course of the years to his social media audience. On 30 November 2009 he flooded his followers with ca. 80 images of antiquities he acquired or saw during the above mentioned shopping spree for the Green and I believe other collections too (including his own). One of the images shows some papyrus fragments on a white table cloth which seems exactly the same as the one appearing in images posted by Eksioglu/Mixantik/ebuyerrrr in his Yasasgroup incarnation, as you can see in the two figures below.
Some days later, however, Carroll posted again a picture of the same fragments of Fig. 1, in a different arrangement:
As you can see, the same papyri appearing in Fig. 1 are here ordered in a slightly dissimilar way. Interestingly they are lying this time on the pages of a national Egyptian newspaper. How did that newspaper and papyri arrive to Turkey and where are they now?
My interpretation would be that these were papyri fresh from the ground (as it seems from the soil still visible), excavated or obtained illegally somewhere in Egypt, wrapped up in the newspaper, and then sent to Turkey (a notorious transit-country) where they were offered for sale to irresponsible dealers/middlemen disguised as ‘academics’ like Scott Carroll and his companions.
Does Mr Eksioglu or anyone else have a better explanation?
I thank Lynda Albertson of ARCA for cross-checking notes and images with me.
I have written on Mr Eksioglu, without mentioning his name now revealed by the Green/MOTB through Holmes, in my article ‘The Green papyri and the Museum of the Bible.’ In Jill Hicks-Keeton and Cavan Concannon (eds.), The Museum of the Bible: A Critical Introduction, 171-205. Lanham; Boulder; New York; London: Lexington Books/Fortress Academics.