New to the Library: Trismegistos

I’m happy to let you know that further to a request from staff in HCA the Library now has a subscription to Trismegistos, an online resource that aims to surmount barriers of language and discipline in the study of texts from the ancient world, particularly late period Egypt and the Nile valley (roughly BC 800 – 800 AD).

You can access Trismegistos via the Databases A-Z list and Classics subject guide.

The core component of Trismegistos (TM) is Trismegistos Texts, currently counting 823212 entries. When the database was created in 2005, it focused on providing information (metadata) on published papyrological documents from Graeco-Roman Egypt. Since then the geographical scope has been widened to the entire ancient world, the time period covered was broadened to between BC 800 and AD 800, and the database was expanded to include epigraphic material as well.

This means that Trismegistos increasingly wants to be a platform where information can be found about all texts from antiquity, thus facilitating cross-cultural and cross-linguistic research.

Several aspects of the Texts database have been elaborated in the course of successive projects and have become separate databases linked with the core Trismegistos Texts database.

  • Collections database
    Built on the Leuven Homepage of Papyrus Collections, this is a set of currently 4064 modern institutional and private collections of texts and their 255708 inventory numbers. It is searchable both separately and in the Texts database.
  • Archives database
    Built on the Leuven Homepage of Papyrus Archives, this is a set of currently 551 collections of texts in antiquity, mainly in Egypt, and the 19992 texts that are part of these archives. It is searchable separately, leading to the texts themselves.
  • People database
    Building on the Prosopographia Ptolemaica, this is a complex set of prosopographical and onomastic databases. It currently contains 511977 attestations of personal names of non-royal individuals living in Egypt between BC 800 and AD 800, including all languages and scripts and written on any surface.
  • Places database
    Expanding the geographic database of the Fayum project, this is a set of currently 56582 places in Egypt and increasingly also outside (in view of the expansion of TM to the ancient world in general). It contains the currently 228398 attestations of toponyms in texts from Egypt (BC 800 – AD 800), but is also linked to the provenance field in Trismegistos Texts.
  • Bibliography
    As abbreviations are often different in the various disciplines, a Bibliography has also started to be created which resolves many of the short references we use in Trismegistos.

For first time users have short video user guides available at

Trismegistos was a freely available resource for many years and parts of it are still available as open access but as of the start of 2020 they have had to implement access via subscriptions to institutions instead, as a way of ensuring a funding stream so they can keep the resource going.

You can access Trismegistos via the Databases A-Z list and Classics subject guide.

Access is only available to current students and staff at the University of Edinburgh.

Caroline Stirling – Academic Support Librarian for History, Classics and Archaeology