The significance of the Berlin Collection relies not only on its considerable amount of papyri, some of them of great relevance, but also on the possession of important archives. These collections of documentary and/or literary texts have been gathered already in antiquity and enable us to investigate different aspects of culture, everyday life, economy, law and the administration of Greco-Roman Egypt not only by means of single texts, but also through the context of several papyri. In some cases, like for instance in the case of the powerful Apion family (s. Trismegistos Archives ID 15: Berliner Texte), it becomes even possible to examine and trace the history of a family over generations.
Several Berlin texts are closely connected to ostraca and papyri from other collections. The reason for this is that on the one hand various institutions excavated the same sites. On the other hand the German Papyruskartell and other buyers purchased single pieces from antiquity dealers who split up entire papyrus lots in order to maximize their profits. Often papyrus sheets or rolls were cut into pieces by the dealers themselves and sold to different persons. As a consequence of this excavating and selling policy several archives and dossiers were scattered across different collections. For this reason papyri belonging to the famous Zenon-Archive (3rd century BCE, see Trismegistos Archives ID 256: Berliner Texte) can be found today in about twenty Egyptian, European and American collections.
The Berlin Papyrus Collection houses texts from several dozens of archives, exempli gratia:
Abinnaeus archive Trismegistos Archives ID 1: Berliner Texte
Archive of the royal bank of Thebes Trismegistos Archives ID 205: Berliner Texte
Archive of Milon praktor Trismegistos Archives ID 141: Berliner Texte
Taurinos archive Trismegistos Archives ID 259: Berliner Texte
Administrative archive of Theadelphia: Trismegistos Archives ID 247: Berliner Texte