The Fayum is a large depression in the western desert of Egypt, receiving its water directly from the Nile. In the early Ptolemaic period the agricultural area expanded a great deal, new villages were founded and many Greeks settled here. When villages on the outskirts were abandoned about AD 300-400, houses and cemeteries remained intact for centuries. Here were found thousands of papyri, ostraca (potsherds) and hundreds of mummy portraits, which have made the area famous among classicists and art historians alike. Most papyri and ostraca are now scattered over collections all over the world. The sixth volume of Collectanea Hellenistica presents 145 reconstructed archives originating from this region, including private, professional, official and temple archives both in Greek and in native Demotic.