Papyrology is the study of ancient literature, correspondence, legal archives, etc., as preserved in manuscripts written on papyrus, the most common form of writing material in the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Papyrology includes both the translation and interpretation of ancient documents in a variety of languages and the care and preservation of rare papyrus originals.
Papyrology as a systematic discipline dates from the 1890s, when large caches of well-preserved papyri were discovered by archaeologists in several locations in Egypt, such as Arsinoe (Faiyum) and Oxyrhynchus. Leading centres of papyrology include Oxford University, Heidelberg University, Columbia University, the University of Michigan, Leiden University, the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, University of California, Berkeley and the Istituto Papirologico "G. Vitelli" connected to the University of Florence. Founders of papyrology were the Viennese orientalist Joseph von Karabacek (Arabic papyrology),Wilhelm Schubart (Greek papyrology), the Austrian antiquarian Theodor Graf who acquired more than 100,000 Greek, Arabic, Coptic and Persian papyri in Egypt, which were bought by the Austrian Archduke Rainer,G. F. Tsereteli, who published papyri of Russian and Georgian collections,Frederic George Kenyon,Ulrich Wilcken, Bernard Pyne Grenfell, Arthur Surridge Hunt and other distinguished scientists.