Dirk Obbink

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Dirk D. Obbink (born 1957 in Lincoln, Nebraska) is an American-born papyrologist and Classicist. He is the Lecturer in Papyrology and Greek Literature in the Faculty of Classics at Oxford University and is the head of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri Project. Obbink is also Fellow and Tutor in the University of Oxford (Christ Church).[1]


Dirk Obbink's ancestors were originally from the Netherlands, later emigrating to the United States. Obbink took a BA in English at the University of Nebraska before going on to take an MA in Classical Studies and Papyrology at the same university. In 1986 he gained his PhD at Stanford University with his doctoral thesis On the Piety of the Greek Philosophers - Philodem. After an assistant professorship at Columbia University in New York in 1995 Obbink was appointed to the post of Lecturer in Papyrology and Greek Literature in the Faculty of Classics at Christ Church, Oxford University[2] and was appointed the head of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri Project. The Oxyrhynchus Papyri are a large collection of ancient manuscripts discovered by archaeologists at an ancient rubbish dump near Oxyrhynchus in Egypt. They include thousands of Greek and Latin documents, letters and literary works.[3] In addition, from 2003 to 2006 Obbink was the Ludwig Koenen Collegiate Professor of Papyrology at the University of Michigan.

Since 1998 Obbink has been the Director of the Imaging Papyri Project at Oxford. This project is working to capture digitised images of Greek and Latin papyri held by the Ashmolean Museum (the Oxyrhynchus Papyri), and the Bodleian Library and the Biblioteca Nazionale in Naples (the carbonized scrolls from the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum), for the creation of an Oxford bank of digitised images of papyri. The newly digitised versions of the literary texts will be published.[4] Obbink and his team of papyrologists combine traditional philological methods with more recent digital imaging techniques. Obbink has made accessible heavily damaged texts from the ancient world, many of which had been regarded as being irretrievably lost. In this way the damaged texts of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri and the Villa of the Papyri can now be read for the first time. Through his researches Obbink has substantially increased our knowledge of ancient literature, society and philosophy. He is as familiar with the poetry of Sappho or Simonides discovered in the Egyptian Oxyrhynchus papyri as he is with the technical-philosophical writings of the Epicurean Philodemus, the text of which he recovered from the carbonized papyrus rolls discovered in The Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum.[5]

In 2001 Obbink received the MacArthur Fellowship for his work on the papyri from Oxyrhynchus and Herculaneum. In May 2007 the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven awarded him an honorary doctorate.[1][5]

In March 2010 Obbink appeared in Channel 4's series Alexandria: The Greatest City, presented by Bettany Hughes. In the programme he talked about the ancient Library of Alexandria. It has also been said that he speaks fluent Persian and is an expert on the contracted forms of the verb 'to advise'.

Select publications[edit]

  • Alan K. Bowman (Author, Editor), R.A. Coles (Editor), N. Gonis (Editor), Dirk Obbink (Editor), Peter John Parsons (Editor), Oxyrhynchus: A City and Its Texts Egypt Exploration Society (2007) ISBN 0-85698-177-X
  • Christopher A. Faraone (Editor), Dirk Obbink (Editor) Magika Hiera: Ancient Greek Magic and Religion OUP USA (1997) ISBN 0-19-511140-0
  • Marcello Gigante and Dirk Obbink Philodemus in Italy: The Books from Herculaneum (The Body in Theory: Histories of Cultural Materialism) The University of Michigan Press (2002) ISBN 0-472-08908-0
  • Dirk Obbink, Philodemus and Poetry: Poetic Theory and Practice in Lucretius, Philodemus, and Horace Oxford University Press USA (1995) ISBN 0-19-508815-8
  • T. V. Evans (Editor), D. D. Obbink (Editor) The Language of the Papyri Oxford University Press (2009) ISBN 0-19-923708-5
  • A.E. Raubitschek (Author), Dirk Obbink (Editor), Paul A.Vander Waerdt (Editor), The School of Hellas: Essays on Greek History, Archaeology and Literature Oxford University Press Inc (1991) ISBN 0-19-505691-4
  • Dirk Obbink, Philodemus On Piety: Part 1, Critical Text with Commentary: Critical Text with Commentary Pt.1 Clarendon Press (1996) ISBN 0-19-815008-3
  • Jean-Jacques Aubert (Contributor), Roger S. Bagnall (Editor), Dirk D. Obbink (Editor) Columbia Papyri X (American Studies in Papyrology) American Society of Papyrologists (1996) ISBN 0-7885-0275-1
  • N. Gonis (Editor), Dirk Obbink (Editor), P. J. Parsons (Editor) Oxyrhynchus Papyri 68 (4639-4704) (Graeco-Roman Memoirs) Egypt Exploration Society (2003) ISBN 0-85698-142-7
  • N. Gonis (Editor), Dirk Obbink (Editor), D. Colomo (Editor) Oxyrhynchus Papyri: v. 69 (Graeco-Roman Memoirs) Egypt Exploration Society (2005) ISBN 0-85698-143-5
  • N. Gonis (Author), Dirk Obbink (Author) Oxyrhynchus Papyri: Pt. 73 (Graeco-Roman Memoirs) Egypt Exploration Society (2009) ISBN 0-85698-182-6
  • John T. Fitzgerald (Author, Editor), Dirk Obbink (Author), Glenn Stanfield Holland (Author), et al. Philodemus and the New Testament World (Novum Testamentum Supplements) Brill (2003) ISBN 90-04-11460-2
  • Anubio, Carmen Astrologicum Elegiacum, ed. Dirk Obbink, Bibliotheca Teubneriana; K. G. Saur, Munich and Leipzig (2006) ISBN 3-598-71228-6


  1. ^ a b [1] Mortimer and Raymond Sackler Institute of Advanced Studies
  2. ^ [2] Classicists at British Universities
  3. ^ [3] Oxford University Oxyrhynchus Papyri Project
  4. ^ [4] Research Projects at Oxford University - Imaging Papyri Project
  5. ^ a b [5] Honorary Doctorates awarded by Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (2007)

External links[edit]