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2,000 year-old scroll to be explored

By Danielle Paine

Reminder Assistant Editor

LONGMEADOW Unravelling the mysteries of an ancient scroll which depicts the oldest known illustrated book, will be the subject of an upcoming lecture at BayPath College.

"We're very excited because it is really through serendipity that this papyrus was able to survive as long as it did," Kathleen Wroblewski, director of communications and marketing for BayPath College said. "The Kaleidoscope Series is about culture and art and this document represents both culture and art from 2000 years ago."

The Longmeadow chapter of UNICO is hosting Italian-native Dr. Gianfranco Adornato, who will present his research findings on the artifact in a presentation titled "Artemidorus Papyrus: Drawings in Ancient Time."

"I think it's interesting because it's the kind of thing that we don't get into a lot in America," UNICO member Paul Adornato said. "The antiquity of things here are not at all what they have in Europe."

A center piece of Italian exhibits, this historical document had a long history of purposes. It was first used to record part of a book by Greek geographer Artemidorus of Ephesus. It even bears the incomplete illustration of a map of Spain in the Greco-Roman times. This is the oldest known example of a geographical drawing.

Later, the back side of the long scroll was used by artists for about 40 animal sketches. Dr. Adornato believes that this is the first example of a workshop sketchbook.

Researchers believe that the papyrus was used again later by possibly two artists to draw heads, feet and hands making this the first clear documentation of artistic training.

Lastly, the long sheet of paper was torn into hundreds of pieces and used as wrapping for a mummy's funeral mask in the Nile Valley, where it remained underground for 1,800 years. It was discovered during an archeological dig in the early 1900s then sold as the mummy's wrapping. Much later, a German collector acquired it and discovered the scroll.

"With all of the things about Jesus' tomb lately it shows that people do get excited about these old things and the meanings and significance behind them," Adornato said. "Hopefully people will find this of interest."

Dr. Adornato is a faculty member and researcher at the University of Pisa, Italy. UNICO and member Paul Adornato (the doctor's cousin) are sponsoring his trip in an effort to promote Italian culture. The event is part of the semester-long series at BayPath College titled, the "Kaleidoscope series lectures."

"He lectures about this all over the world and we are very lucky to have him here in Longmeadow," Wroblewski said. "Anybody who is interested in history, bookmaking or classical history or would be fascinated by this."

The "Artemidorus Papyrus" lecture will be held on April 2, 7 p.m. at BayPath College's Blake Student Center. The Kalidescope lecture series is free and open to the public for more information call 565-1293.