To find the ancient owner of this papyrus Professor Luijendijk engaged in some archaeological detective work. Grenfell and Hunt mentioned in 1899 that “the papyrus was found tied up with a contract dating to 316 AD.” Unfortunately they did not specify which document this is.
“They were not particularly interested in the social context of the texts they had unearthed, or perhaps they were too busy editing their enormous find,” writes Luijendijk.
To find this missing document Luijendijk turned to a modern day papyrus database called the Heidelberger Gesamtverzeichnis or HGV. She searched for examples from Oxyrhynchus that date to AD 316.
She found 13 examples but only two of them were contracts. One discussed a “lease of a plot of land” while the other was “a contract for the sale of a donkey.”
Luijendijk determined that the donkey sale could not be the missing contract. “Grenfell and Hunt cannot have referred to the latter papyrus, for it did not come from their excavations.”
This left only the land lease document. Further investigation revealed that it was excavated during the same field season as the New Testament papyrus. This meant that it had to be the one.
From there the discovery got even more interesting.
Read the whole story here (HT: Paleojudaica).
Read Luijendijk's scholarly account in, “A New Testament Papyrus and Its Documentary Context: An Early Christian Writing Exercise from the Archive of Leonides (P.Oxy. II 209/P10), Journal of Biblical Literature (2010): 575–96 (available here).