Egyptian papyri; Book of Abraham; Joseph Smith; Kirtland; facsimile
In 1835 Joseph Smith began translating some ancient Egyptian papyri that he had obtained from an exhibitor passing through Kirtland, Ohio. He soon announced, “Much to our joy [we] found that one of the rolls contained the writings of Abraham.” While we do not know how much the Prophet translated, we do know that some of his translation was published in serial form and eventually canonized as the Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price. For nearly one hundred years, it was thought that all these papyri had eventually made their way to the Wood Museum in Chicago, where they were destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. However, in 1967 New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art presented The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with portions of the papyri Joseph Smith had owned, which the museum had purchased some twenty years earlier. This small collection of eleven papyri fragments came to be known as the Joseph Smith Papyri.