Reference examples of Greek handwriting

I’ve been doing transcription work on Ancient Lives, which “is a collaboration between a diverse collection of Oxford Papyrologists and Researchers, The Imaging Papyri Project, The Oxyrhynchus Papyri Project, the Egypt Exploration Society and” several other institutions (I assume the list changes or may be added to, given the way they’re listed). They’ve set up a brilliant plan where they’re crowdsourcing transcription and measurement of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri. You register on the site and get access to high-quality images of the papyri, on which you can mark up letters and dimensions, which then go into their program collectively. Transcription by consensus! Fantastic!

Something that immediately strikes the student of any version of ancient greek is how dissimilar the handwritten, cursive forms in the papyri are from the more standardized modern print versions or from the traditional inscription forms, which are the two main forms that comprise most undergraduate studies (and how different the forms are depending on the century in question). Some of the letters are damn near unrecognizable, and there are a number of textual symbols that might easily get mistaken for letters as well.

This post is going to serve as a reference hub for me. There are a few fairly good sites with examples of letter shapes and the like, which I’ve culled from a few different sources including the forums. I intend to continue to add to this post as I gather more resources.

These UPenn links come from the files of Robert A. Kraft which has a lot of other resources that you may find worth exploring as well:

From Richard Carrier’s site, a comparison of two hands’ cursive forms, wherein is demonstrated that ancient scribes had just as bad a handwriting as we do now…

From the Ancient Lives blog:

Reading the Zenon Papyri from Ptolemaic Fayum, kept at UMich. Check out their Reading the Papyri series for other fragments in both Latin and Greek!

Oxyrhynchus Online, where you can search through already published papyri in the collection.

Oxford’s Ancient Lives description page.

Glasgow’s Oxyrhynchus Collection

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