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Oxyrhynchus: A City and its Texts, Virtual Exhibition: The Site

Kôm Gamman

Not far to the north-east of the classical theatre was a large rubbish mound crowned by the venerated tomb of a mediaeval Sheikh, Ali Gamman, and often referred to as Kôm Gamman (Kôm = mound). To judge from what was found in the mound, this spot was used as a rubbish dump for 600 years at least, starting in the first century AD; such use may surprise us, in a spot in the midst of monumental structures (theatre and colonnade) and almost on the line of a conjectured ancient main street.

This mound was numbered K 20 on Grenfell and Hunt’s plan, and identified as Kôm Gamman in the black notebook. It was a particularly rich source of rare literary MSS., but the presence of Ali Gamman’s tomb on its top prevented Grenfell and Hunt from investigating it thoroughly. In the 1930s an Italian team obtained permission to dismantle the tomb and re-erect it elsewhere; a consequence is the number of literary papyri in the Oxyrhynchus collection of which further portions are now in Florence.