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Artemidorus Ephesius

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Artemidorus of Ephesus (Greek: Ἀρτεμίδωρος ὁ Ἐφέσιος; Latin: Artemidorus Ephesius) was a Greek geographer, who flourished around 100 BC. His work in eleven books is often quoted by Strabo, but only fragments of the work exist.

The Artemidorus papyrus

A papyrus containing a fragment already known as part of book 2 of his work has recently been discovered. It is known as the Artemidorus papyrus; it also contains the first map of the Iberian peninsula, and many illustrations.

This 10-foot (3.0 m) long papyrus roll was written in the first century BC, maybe in Alexandria. The copyist left spaces for illustrations of maps, and then sent it to a painter's workshop to have them inserted. But the painter designed only a partial map, which appears to be what the author believed was the shape of the southwestern Iberian peninsula.

The map is incomplete and has no names, and is perhaps the wrong map for the space in the papyrus. This ruined the roll. Instead the blank spaces were used as scrap papyrus for rough drafts, and to keep a catalog of drawings for clients. The drawings include pictures of real animals, such as giraffes, tigers and pelicans, as well as mythical ones, such as the griffin, marine snake, or a dog with wings. In addition, pictures of heads, feet and hands were drawn until there were no blank spaces.

The papyrus was then presumably sold as scrap paper. It was found in the early 1900s in the form of cartonnage, as a filling for some kind of cavity (Konvolut). The cartonnage was sold to an Egyptian collector in whose hands it remained for fifty years. It then travelled around Europe, before being bought by a German collector who opened it and discovered the remains of the papyrus roll. It has holes in it, but because it got damp at some stage, even when there are holes, the drawings on those parts of the papyrus have been mirrored on the facing part of the roll.

The papyrus - which was bought by a foundation for $3,369,850 - is now owned by Turin's Banco di San Paolo.

A 2007 study by Canfora asserts that the text of the papyrus cannot be by Artemidorus as it contains words not available except in Byzantine Greek, and that the papyrus may be a forgery, perhaps by Constantine Simonides. Richard Janko, in Classical Review 59.2 (2009) pp. 403-410 has offered arguments favoring the case for forgery.


Artemidorus Ephesius Wikipedia