The Odyssey of an Iliad Papyrus

A Homer papyrus was sold today through Aguttes Auction House, France, for 35,000 euros. The papyrus, a fragment with lines from the beginning of the Iliad, is an old friend of us as it is linked with Dr Scott Carroll, Director of the Green Collection from 2009 to 2012, and now CEO of his own business, the Manuscripts Research Group, and connected with various other entities.

The Iliad papyrus surfaced in a video of a presentation given by Carroll at an evangelical Christian charity event of 2016. The video is still available on Youtube (below), and was reported also by Brent Nongbri in his blog. As usual, Carroll did not explain where he sourced this or any other papyrus in the slides. Can we imagine an origin similar to that of the Green papyri, mostly acquired during his direction and which were all given back to Egypt, apart from a bunch of legal provenance?

The next public appearance of the Iliad papyrus was on the Pinterest account of Aristophil.

Aristophil – a very debated business, that traded in virtual quotas of rare manuscripts and books – went through a series of legal cases. Following court decisions, Aguttes has been involved in the liquidation of the Aristophil collections, as it is explained in a website presenting the lots and sales.

But how did this papyrus end with Aristophil? It was acquired in 2013 from Les Enluminures, rare manuscripts, books and antiques business owned by Sandra Hindman. Possibly the papyrus was handled for a client – hard to know since the rules of discretion regulating the market. The only information available through Aguttes is that the papyrus came through Hindman, was in private ownership since the beginning of the XXth century, and had been studied by Dr Dirk Obbink and  Dr Scott Carroll, as explained via email to my colleague Michael Sampson.

I contacted Aguttes via email last June to flag the papyrus without success.