ï~~Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 46 (2009) 23-30
Report of Proceedings
in Red Ink from Late Second
Century AD Oxyrhynchus
Lincoln H. Blumell Tulane University
Edition of a Greek papyrus in the collection of the University of
Michigan (P.Mich. inv. 1568v).
P.Mich. inv. 1568v 11 cm by 9.5 cm (H. x W.) ca. AD 187/8
In some respects P.Mich. inv. 1568v is a rather unexceptional piece, since
it only contains a few fragmentary lines from a report of proceedings, about
which little can be ascertained with certainty given the many lacunae and
gaps in the text. Yet it deserves to be published for one noteworthy feature: it
is written in red ink and is therefore a welcome addition to a very small corpus
of such documents.'
1 While the use of red ink is attested in a wide variety of documents from the Pharaonic period through the Arabic period, very few were ever written entirely in red ink as
it was mostly used to draw attention to certain words or phrases, mark the opening of
various sections within a document, or render the total of certain accounts. See R. Parkinson and S. Quirke, Papyrus (Austin 1995) 45-46. In O.OI 0119361 (ca. 1200-1080 BC),
a hymn to the inundation (Hieratic), the verse points and date are written with red ink
whereas the rest of the document is written with black ink. Similarly in O.OIM 25040
(ca. 1200-1080 BC), another hymn to the inundation (Hieratic), the verse points are
written with red ink. In Princ. inv. Scheide M 95 (ca. 1100-950 BC), a Book of the Dead
(Hieratic), certain lines are written with red ink, though most are written with black ink.
Red ink was mostly made from a clay called ochre that contained a high degree of the
mineral hematite (Fe203) that was reddish in color. To make ink it was typically mixed
with gum Arabic and water. The less ochre that was added to this mixture the more
yellow the ink, whereas the more ochre that was added the more red the ink became.
See P. Schubert, Les archives de Marcus Lucretius Diogenes et textes apparentis (Bonn
1990) 34. Additionally, red ink might also be made from either cinnabar (KtvvA3ctptR)
or minium (liX-toR). See B.M. Metzger, Manuscripts of the Greek Bible: An Introduction
to Paleography (Oxford 1981) 17.