Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 43 (2006) 113-137
Ostraca from Western Thebes
Provenance and History of the Collections
at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
and at Columbia University'
Elisabeth R. O'Connell University of California Berkeley
This paper is an attempt to localize published and unpublished Coptic ostraca within their archaeological contexts, in part taking up a
challenge in recent work on texts and material culture (e.g., T. Gagos,
J.E. Gates, and A.T. Wilburn, "Material Culture and Texts of GraecoRoman Egypt: Creating Context, Debating Meaning," BASP 42 
171-188). In its focus on material excavated by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it is intended to complement the work of T.G. Wilfong on
material excavated at Medinet Habu by the Oriental Institute ("Western Thebes in the Seventh and Eighth Centuries: A Bibliographic
Survey of Jdme and its Surroundings," BASP 26  89-145).
The following report has two central goals: first, to localize groups of ostraca, formerly at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (henceforth, "MMA" or
"the Museum") and now at Columbia University, within the Theban landscape;
and second, to demonstrate the breadth of archaeological sites represented by
these collections. This paper results in part from work undertaken in spring,
2005, and aims to serve as a reference guide for the MMA and the Columbia
University library staff and for future scholars working in these two collections.
The Egyptian Antiquities Service also assigned a good number of ostraca excavated by the MMAs Egyptian Expedition to the Egyptian Museum (Cairo);
'For access to the collections, and for their guidance and hospitality, I thank Helen
Evans and Christine Brennan in the Medieval Department, MMA; Dorothea Arnold
and Marsha Hill in the Egyptian Department, MMA; Roger Bagnall, Rafaella Cribiore
and the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library staff at Columbia University; and Jaromir
Malek, Alison Hobby, and Elizabeth Fleming, Griffith Institute Archive, Oxford.