Association internationale de Papyrologues

International Association of Papyrologists

In memoriam Sarah Jane CLACKSON


Discours prononcé durant l'Assemblée Générale de l'AIP réunie à Helsinki le 7 août 2004
Speech delivered during the General Assembly of the AIP gathered in Helsinki on August 7th, 2004
par - by: Dorothy J. THOMPSON

Sarah Clackson was born Sarah Joanne Quinn in Leicester on 11 December 1965. When she died last year on the 10th August she was aged just 37. After schooling in Loughborough, where she already met her future husband James, she studied Classics followed by Egyptology at Cambridge. Her doctorate was from University College London, where she worked with John Tait. At the time of her death (from cancer) she was Lady Wallis Budge Research Fellow at Christ's College, Cambridge; she had hoped to spend the following year in Heidelberg.

Sarah's first article (in JEA 1991) was the publication of a New Kingdom stele from Girton College but it was as a Coptic papyrologist that she made her name. Her major book, Coptic and Greek texts Relating to the Hermopolite Monastery of Apa Apollo was published in 2000 and a further volume of some 90 Coptic texts entitled 'It is our father who writes': orders from an Archimandrite's office is to be published posthumously. Two further books have her name on the title page as a significant contributor, The Elephantine Papyri in English (1996) and The Dictionary of Manichaean Texts, volume I, Texts from the Roman Empire (1998).

It was, however, the monastery of Apa Apollo at Bawit that was central to her work. Careful study of the language of surviving texts on papyrus, stone or ostraka, the formulae of receipts, items of income and expenditure and local accounts served to illuminate the life and economy of this key monastic community. Two recent articles on 'Something fishy in CPR XX' and 'Fish and chits: the Synodontis schall' illustrated the importance of Nile fish in the diet of the times. Her publication of these and other texts helped bring new standards of presentation to the practices of Coptic papyrology.

Sarah's contribution to her subject was characterised by an ability to bring order and sense to whatever it was that she did. In the indices to her book she consciously took over the system of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri which she considered the best. She did much to bring order to manuscript collections in the Cambridge University Library and elsewhere. She worked in many of the major Coptic papyrus collections in both Europe and the US; she was forever impressed by the quantity of work there is still to do in that field. Above all, Sarah was always generous in her work, since she knew full well that we need to work together in order to get the best results. When, for instance, she recognised a fragment of Dioskoros of Aphrodito in the manuscript collection of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, she immediately passed the information on to our colleague Fournet since she knew of his work on those texts. On her death there was order on her computer and among her files. She left her fine Coptic papyrological Library to the University of Warsaw and her papers and photographs to the Griffith Institute in Oxford. The number of those who came to her funeral from all over Europe is testimony to the breadth of her friendship.

In both Florence and Vienna, Sarah enlivened our proceedings. We miss her elegant presence here in Helsinki, though some of us will be able to celebrate her life and work at a memorial conference in Oxford in late September.