Long-lost secrets of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri! (or maybe not)

The big news earlier this week was the recovery of a huge number of ancient writings penned by authors like Sophocles and Euripedes. It’s tremendously exciting news… assuming it’s not just hype or exaggeration. At least one skeptical voice is getting some attention; if nothing else, many questions need to be answered before we should accept the original story at face value.

This case is a good reminder that we must meet extraordinary historical or archaeological claims with healthy skepticism. It’s often difficult to determine at first glance whether the “expert” quoted in a media story is a respected scholar, a hype merchant, or an attention-hungry fringe theorist. The more extraordinary the claim, the more careful we need to be about embracing it.

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