Recently, when I was at the Birmingham Colloquium, Walter Cockle showed me a new book by Peter Parsons on Oxyrhynchus:
City of the Sharp-nosed Fish: Greek lives in Roman Egypt
320pp. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. ISBN: 978 0 297 64588 7
Mary Beard has written a review of the book in the Times Literary Supplement (and published on artlblogger here). Here is an extract of the very positive review:
"Parsons, who recently retired from the Regius Chair of Greek at Oxford, has been involved with the Oxyrhynchus project for almost half a century. His aim in City of the Sharp-Nosed Fish is to use the surviving scraps of papyrus to provide a guide to the life and letters of this ancient city for the non-specialist as much as for the professional Classicist. (The original germ of the book came from a “Commentary” in the TLS in 1998.) He writes with tremendous verve and wit, and with memorable turns of phrase. I liked, for example, the idea of Egypt being the “California of opportunity” to the Ancient Greeks. The sheer elegance of his style tends to make the reconstruction and synthesis he has attempted look effortless. In fact, it depends on truly phenomenal learning and expertise. It is hard enough to decipher the handwriting of these documents, let alone to work out how any particular fragment might fit into a bigger picture, and then to explain it to a general audience, as he does, without dumbing down."
There is another review in New Statesman here.
Here are two links with more on Oxyrhynchus:
The homepage of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri Project at
And a more "popular" introduction at the webpages of BBC (in connection with an old programme) at:
On the BBC pages there is a quiz to test your knowledge about Oxyrhynchus, I got the score 7/10 (before reading the pages), try to beat me, good luck!