Leyden Papyrus

Leyden Papyrus Page of 18 Translation Document Text size:minus plus Restore normal size   Mail page  Print this page
Journal of Chemical Education                  October, 1926
antiquarii publici Lugduni Batavi . . . . Edidit, interpretutionem latinam,an-notationem, indices et tabulas addidit C. Leemans, Musei antiquarii Lugduni Batavi Director. From the chemical point of view the most interesting of the papyri then translated into Latin was the one now known as the Leyden Papyrus X, which is under our special consideration at the present time.
A similar Egyptian papyrus has been quite recently brought to light in Sweden and published with extensive notes by Otto Lagercrantz. An investigation has revealed the fact that this papyrus also formed part of the collection of Johann d'Anastasy and that it was a special gift made to the Swedish Academy of Antiquities at Stockholm by this collector in 1832. There it remained unnoticed until a transfer of the document to the Victoria Museum at Upsala brought it to the attention of the above-mentioned philologist. A comparison with the Leyden Papyrus has established the fact that the two papyri are not only contemporaneous, but that they were also probably the work of the same writer. Together they form a most remarkable collection of chemical recipes and processes. The writer hopes to publish in the near future a complete English transla­tion of the Stockholm Papyrus similar to the translation of the Leyden Papyrus here given. This latter papyrus will now be especially con­sidered.
The Leyden Papyrus X is in a remarkable state of preservation. It is formed of ten large leaves, each about thirty centimeters long and-having a width of around thirty-four centimeters. It contains sixteen pages of writing of from twenty-eight to forty-seven lines each, in Greek capital letters such as were in use during the third century A.D. It gives evidence of having been copied from still earlier documents and is full of grammati­cal errors and incorrect spellings.2 It is written in the form of a recipe book and the recipes are often in an abbreviated, incomplete form such as workers, more or less familiar with the nature of the process, would use. The total number of recipes given is one hundred and eleven. Seventy-five of these deal with methods for purifying metals, making alloys, testing metals for purity, imitating precious metals, and coloring the sur­faces of metals and alloys. There are fifteen recipes on methods for writing in letters of gold and silver. Eleven recipes deal with methods of making dyes and dyeing cloth in purple and other colors. The last eleven recipes are simply short extracts from the Materia Medica of Dioscorides Pedanius. They are chiefly descriptions of certain minerals. It is of interest to note that the extracts in the papyrus are very close to the present editions of this Greek writer compiled from quite different sources. No translation is given of these extracts since they are contained
2 C. Leemans, Op. Cit., and M. Berthelot, "Introduction a L'Etude de la Chimie Des Anciens et du Moyen Age," Paris, 1889.
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