The last weeks three news came to us from Poland. Three news that in their own particular way each, and in different degrees, mark a significant change in the study of the Christian cultures of the Middle and Lower Nile Valleys, alias Sudanese and Egyptian Nubia, and Coptic Egypt.
First of all, Grzegorz Ochala presented the most magnificent tool for the study of medieval Nubian texts: the updated version of his Database of Medieval Nubian Texts (DBMNT). When the database was first launched in 2011, it contained 733 entries, based on the material that Grzegorz had assembled for his doctoral dissertation on the Chronological Systems of Christian Nubia. The 2015 version contains no less than 2492 records!! Although there is still material that has passed unnoticed and much that remains unpublished, what Grzegorz offered online free for all is a corpus of data that surely others have attempted to build up before him too, but nobody either accomplished the task or fulfilled it in the form of a tool accessible to all interested colleagues. Given the high degree of competition in our field, this is one of the most applaudable moments in research I can think of. Moreover, Grzegorz managed to link his work with Trismegistos.org, achieving a recognition of Nubian studies, which might have been unthinkable before the launching of the new version of DBMNT. And he improved so many things that made DBMNT difficult to use, that it’s only to go out THERE and start browsing the treasures of medieval Nubian literacy! Perhaps you might be unhappy for not finding images or drawings, but Grzegorz is working on that too, as he promises us in the notes in the welcoming page. Read them (especially the Guidelines) because they are very helpful for both newcomers and experienced users of papyrological and/or epigraphical databases. The only thing that I missed was a function to produce tables and diagrams out of the data one browses and studies, but I guess there must be some degree of quantitative analysis and presentation that Grzegorz has left room for someone else to do ;-) All in all, a big THANK YOU and a warm MABRUK for our dear colleague!
Another dear collegue, Artur Obluski, is the person behind the second set of news: he became the new director of the Research Station of the Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology of the University of Warsaw in Cairo! We cannot think of a person more appropriate than Artur for this post, and we are just looking forward to hearing of his first achievements, visiting him and his family in Cairo, advancing with our collaboration on the Qasr el Wizz material, and perhaps launching something new together in Egypt this time!
For the Poles have been first of all active in Egypt, and it was from there that their activities expanded into Sudan. Both on the field and in the labs and libraries, they have produced some fascinating results and have created a school that also has its own publishing venues. A favorite is the Journal of Juristic Papyrology (JJP), where a lot of Nubiological works have found home and more are awaited. Recently, a very important new monograph appeared as volume 25 of the JJP supplements: The Alexandrian Church. People and Institutions by Ewa Wipszycka.
Looking very much forward to reading this new book by this great figure of papyrology, a book that will surely become a definite reference for studies of the history of the Church in Egypt.