The OUG Inventory is mostly stored in acid-free paper folders that are numbered one through 124, with a total of 139 inventory designations. To make up this total, the sequence includes several irregularities: there are numerical duplications that are further identified by letter designations (for example “OUG Inv. 3A” and “OUG Inv. 3B”); inventory numbers 4, 5 and 6 refer to the same item; and there is no folder number 84. Additionally, one box of OUG papyri remains uncatalogued. The uncatalogued folders are designated “uncatalogued” 61 through 70 (OUG Unc. 61-70), and are currently stored in Oxford University Gazette newsprint dating from 1901 to 1906.
Gazette newsprint made up the original folders that held the papyri after they were extracted from mummy cartonnage. The paper of the newsprint is very low in acid and preserved the papyri well, but the majority of the fragments were transferred to acid-free paper in 2004. The now unused Gazette newsprint was set aside for storage separately. The newsprint is still useful to researchers because some notes about the papyrus fragments have been written on them (although they are clearly unreliable in many cases) and they sometimes indicate which mummies the pieces came from, which is important information that has otherwise largely been lost. Some inferences about the source mummies may be made from the grouping of fragments together in folders and boxes: the folders were made by placing together seemingly related papyrus fragments extracted from the same batch of cartonnage. Related fragments from the same cartonnage case, however, may also be widely separated because cartonnage was arbitrarily cut into smaller pieces for shipment to the UK in tins. Additionally, the selection and framing of large legible fragments for publication and distribution to donor institutions, along with the lack of information on the unpublished fragments, makes reconstructing the complete contents of a cartonnage case almost impossible.
With thanks to Clare E. Barker for this collection description.