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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

Papyrus Research

Finnish papyrus research has strong traditions. The Papyrus Project began in 1968 under the leadership of Henrik Zilliacus, achieved its international breakthrough in 1979, and has since been recognised as a significant school at an international level. In addition to professor Zilliacus, the team consisted of Jaakko Frösén, Paavo Hohti, Jorma Kaimio and Maarit Kaimio.

Jaakko Frösén retrieving papyri from a mummy cartonnage in the honorary home for a young scientist at Ruusunkatu street in 1981. Photo by Tapio Tyni.

The project began with fragments of Greek literature, documents and letters originating from Roman Egypt that were loaned to Finland Fifty Oxyrhynchus Papyri (P. Oxy. Hels.), 1979 and continued with the papyrus collection of the Austrian National Library in Vienna Corpus Papyrorum Raineri (CPR) VII, 1979, and Papyrus Erzherzog Rainer (P. Rainer cent.), 1983, including documents and letters from Roman and Byzantine Egypt, and a Latin text from Ravenna. In Vienna, the conservation methods of mummy cartonnages became familiar, and a collection of 47 fragments of recycled papyri from two cartonnages were acquired and brought to Helsinki. They were published in 1986 under the title Papyri Helsingienses (P. Hels. I).

Jaakko Frösén was completely swept away by the world of papyri, and he toured European and Egyptian collections, opening mummy cartonnages and carbonised papyrus scrolls as well as developing the conservation methods he had learned in Vienna. In return for this work, the collections granted Finnish researchers permission to publish new findings.

: The team of the Papyrus Project led by professor Henrik Zilliacus in the office of Holger Thesleff on Vuorikatu in 1978. Pictured are Jorma Kaimio, Henrik Zilliacus, Maarit Kaimio, Jaakko Frösén and Paavo Hohti. Photo from the magazine Suomen Kuvalehti.

The research unit still conducts work with what are known as normal papyri. Work on literary papyri includes philosophical fragments from the Berlin collection and poetry from the London collection. At the moment the work is concentrated on texts from the Vienna collection, which includes a seven-metre-long list of tax payments from 755 individuals, and documents from Roman Egypt that are of particular legal historical interest. The publishers are Jaakko Frösén, Tiina Purola and Erja Salmenkivi.

The following licentiate’s theses and doctoral dissertations were written based on the papyri: Epigrammikokoelmat papyruksissa (University of Helsinki, 1996) by Tiina Purola, Dancing and Professional Dancers in Roman Egypt (University of Helsinki, 2011) by Manna Satama, and Bilingual Notaries in Hellenistic Egypt. A Study of Language Use (University of Helsinki, 2011) by Marja Vierros, a revision of which was published as Bilingual Notaries in Hellenistic Egypt. A Study of Greek as a Second Language (Collectanea Hellenistica V, Brussel, 2012).

More information on papyrology and recycled papyri from mummy cartonnages.

Mummy cartonnage after the retrieval of papyri. Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, University College London. Photo by Jaakko Frösén, 1985.

In addition to opening carbonised scrolls, another great conservation challenge that has produced good results and worldwide recognition for the research unit has been revealing the recycled papyri of mummy cartonnages without damaging the paintings on their surface. Besides Helsinki, the work has been mainly performed in Vienna, London, Budapest and Berlin. Recycled Greek and Egyptian papyri from mummy cartonnages are important sources for historical and literature studies because they are from the early Ptolemaic period of Egypt, which lasted for the three last centuries preceding the Roman conquest. They have included the Egyptian Book of the Dead, an extremely fragile papyrus scroll that was opened in the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo.

Papyrus of a mummy cartonnage, P.Hels.I 2 Assault in the Baths from 192 BC. Photo by Jouni Pekkanen.

Jaakko Frösén, Tiina Purola and Erja Salmenkivi have participated in the conservation and publishing of recycled papyri. Erja Salmenkivi also wrote her doctoral dissertation on the papyri of the mummy cartonnages in Berlin. The dissertation was titled Cartonnage Papyri in Context. New Ptolemaic Documents from Abû Sîr al-Malaq (Commentationes Humanarum Litterarum 119, Helsinki, 2002).

All published Greek papyrus texts have been added to international digital databanks: DDbDP – Duke Data Bank of Documentary Papyri and HGV – Heidelberger Gesamtverzeichnis der griechischen Papyrusurkunden. The illustrations have been added to their own databank: APIS – Advanced Papyrological Information System. All written material has been added to the databank of Greek texts, Thesaurus Linguae Graecae. All metadata on Egyptian texts from 800 BC to 800 AD have been added to the Trismegistos portal and papyrus bibliographies. There they can be accessed by anyone who is interested.

Part of the team working on the Petra Papyri in Amman (ACOR). Jorma Kaimio, Manna Satama, Tiina Rankinen, Maarit Kaimio, Mari Mikkola, Marjo Lehtinen, Marja Vierros and Jaakko Frösén. Photo from the family album of Jorma and Maarit Kaimio.



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