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This presentation is the fruit of a collaboration between two PhD. candidates in papyrology and musicology at the Sorbonne and at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at NYU : Céline Grassien and Alan Gampel. Two unpublished papyri with interlinear annotations were discovered in digital image catalogues via APIS. The P.Duke inv. 766 at the Duke university library is dated to the 7th century and contains two greek hymns on the theme of the Annunciation. The P.CtYBR 1584A at the Yale Beinecke Rare Books Library is dated to the 7th or 8th centuries and contains a hymn to Christ that begins with the first verse of psalm 149 «Sing to the Lord a new song». The interlinear annotations in both papyri appear to have had musical functions.

The first part of the presentation will be a description and textual reconstitution of the two papyri. The reconstitution is necessary because both greek texts were ‘corrupted’ by iotacism, coptic influences and deformations due to oral transmission. Scriptural references and liturgical parallels, found in others papyrological witnesses of greek non biblical hymnody widely used in Christian Egypt, will support the proposed reconstitution.

The second part of the presentation will focus on a musicological discussion. Other papyri and ostraca, which include similar symbols in parallel contexts, will be presented to support the analysis of the interlinear symbols. This research points to evolutionary tendencies in ekphonetic accent systems and supports a theory that prosodic accents were the precursors to byzantine musical notation.

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