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Jaakko Frösén

Jaakko Lars Henrik Frösén
Born January 9, 1944, Helsinki

Master of Arts 1967 (Greek literature), Roman literature, psychology, general linguistics (1968), Licentiate 1969 (Greek language and literature, Latin and Roman literature) and PhD 1974, University of Helsinki

Emeritus professor 2012–, University of Helsinki
Acting professor of Greek philology 1999–2011, University of Helsinki
Senior Research Fellow and Academy Professor 1992–99 and 2006, Academy of Finland
Director of the Finnish Institute at Athens 1988–92
Acting professor of Greek language and literature 1985, University of Helsinki
Junior Academy Research Fellow and Senior Research Fellow 1981–88, Academy of Finland
Research assistant in Greek language and literature 1977–81, University of Helsinki
Commissioner of the Council of Finnish Academies 1977
Acting associate professor of Classical philology 1976, University of Turku
Research assistant in Greek literature 1974–76, University of Helsinki
Lecturer in Classical philology 1971–73, University of Turku
Research assistant in Roman literature 1970, University of Helsinki
Acting lecturer in Latin 1969, University of Oulu
Part-time teaching positions at schools, universities, summer universities and colleges (Latin, Greek, Italian, sociolinguistics, Classical archaeology) 1967–

Publications, research projects and other academic activity

Research themes
Greek sociolinguistic research
The conservation and publication of papyri, particularly carbonised papyri or papyrus scrolls.
The Mount Aaron archaeological excavations, Petra
Mediaeval scrips of the patriarchate of Alexandria (conservation, digitalisation and codification)
Prolegomena to a Study of the Greek Language in the First Centuries A.D. – The problem of Koiné and Atticism 1974 (doctoral dissertation)
Publication of papyrus texts in collaboration with others 1979–
Numerous articles, book reviews and publications, textbooks, audio recordings, video, radio and television programmes and exhibitions. In addition an expert guide on more than 100 trips to the eastern Mediterranean.

Photo: Mika Federley
Written by Jaakko Frösén (Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

Ancient Greek Written Sources, a Centre of Excellence

Between 2000 and 2011, a research unit led by Jaakko Frösén at the University of Helsinki was twice appointed for a six-year term as a Centre of Excellence by the Academy of Finland. The unit had five wide-ranging research projects:

  • 1) conserving and publishing papyrus texts, particularly carbonised papyrus scrolls and recycled texts from the cartonnages of mummies,
  • 2) archaeological excavations at Mount Aaron in Petra,
  • 3) saving and digitalising mediaeval manuscripts from the library of the Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate in Alexandria
  • 4) verse inscription in Roman Greece (project led by docent Erkki Sironen), and
  • 5) variation and change in the Greek and Latin languages (project led by docent Martti Leiwo). The work of the research unit still goes on in a diminished capacity.
    The Centre of Excellence led by Jaakko Frözén presented its findings at the Book and Science Fair in Turku in 2010. Photo from the archive of the Academy of Finland.


The projects of the research unit aim to save, preserve and publish as well as explain previously unknown papyrus texts, inscriptions and manuscripts, and to make them available for experts. The unit is particularly concerned with texts that have been deemed too difficult and as such have not received the attention they deserve. The difficulties are related to the writing material and its recycling (the papyri from mummy cartonnages), the condition of surviving texts (carbonised papyri), the content and style of the writing (parchment and paper manuscripts), or the place of storage (closed collections). To process these sources and to make them available to researchers requires mastering and developing conservation methods and digitalisation as well as new methodological approaches and interdisciplinary connections.

Jan Vihonen presenting the research projects of the Centre of Excellence at the Book and Science Fair in Turku in 2010. Photo from the archive of the Academy of Finland.

Educational and research collaborators in Finland have been the Helsinki University of Technology, which later merged with Aalto University (photogrammetry, information processing, architecture), Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences (surveying, conservation), the University of Art and Design Helsinki which also later became part of Aalto University (multimedia), and the University of Tampere (mass communication). Sixteen universities and collections in Europe, the Middle East, Egypt and the United States have also collaborated with the research unit.

Several theses relating to the research unit have been written at various universities and institutes of higher education.

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