Brendan Haug in the Papyrology vault
On January 6 the U-M Library welcomed Brendan Haug, archivist of the Papyrology Collection and assistant professor in the Department of Classical Studies. Haug holds degrees from the University of Washington and the University of California Berkeley. His most recent position was at Yale University, where he cataloged and assessed the papyrus collection at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
Haug takes over from Arthur Verhoogt, professor of Papyrology and Greek in the Department of Classical Studies, who had served as interim archivist after the untimely death of Traianos Gagos in 2010.
A towering figure in the papyrology world, Gagos had been with the collection since 1991. Among other accomplishments, he led a project to create a multi-institutional online database of papyrus images and information, which continues to thrive.
If taking on the leadership of one of the world’s largest and best known collections of papyrus is daunting, Haug doesn’t let on, though he says, “I’m still in the process of learning about all of our holdings and resources.”
Haug’s current research interest is environmental history—an exploration of the workings of premodern agriculture, such as irrigation networks and government policies. His focus is on an area of Egypt that includes Karanis, the Greco-Roman Egyptian town that is the source of much of the university’s papyrus.
Haug plans to continue the effort to make the collection accessible, both to the world via digitization, and locally via the dedicated papyrus case in the library’s Audubon Room. He also hopes to step up engagement with the Kelsey Museum, and pursue opportunities for joint exhibits, which makes sense, he says, because “Papyri are important archeological artifacts, and have value and interest beyond the words that are written on them.”