From the Guardian: Found: the dustbin of history.
Our collective memory of the past is mostly confined to grand figures and epic events, while the vast majority of humanity ends up in the wastelands of oblivion.
Thanks to nearly half a million papyrus fragments uncovered in Hellenic Egyptian rubbish dumps which are being gradually decoded, however, we are, quite literally, salvaging fragments of ordinary people’s lives from the dustbin of history.
The rubbish dumps in question belonged to the provincial but thriving Egyptian city of Oxyrhynchus (City of the Sharp-Nosed Fish), about 100 miles south of modern Cairo, which was established during the pharaonic New Kingdom and became Hellenised in Ptolemic times, but was eventually reduced to a single standing column.
Most of the unearthed documents, discovered by two Victorian archaeologists, date from the time when Egypt was part of the Roman empire, and include a treasure trove of lost classics and non-canonical gospels. [continue]