The first part of this article deals with abbreviations found in Greek documentary papyri and ostraca. The documents in which abbreviation is rife are predominantly those produced on a massive scale and bound to repeat the same words, such as tax accounts and receipts. The most common method of abbreviation is by suspension. to omit one or more of the final letters of a word. Most symbols stem from abbreviations by suspension; these may become reduced to monograms whose original constituents are sometimes no longer discernible. This is the case with most symbols that represent weights and measures, as well as, in the later period, money, which naturally occurred very frequently. In the early days of papyrology, Verschleifungen were given the status of a particular subgroup of abbreviations. This practice is predominantly found with the names and titles of emperors and the names of months in date clauses.
William A. Johnson
From the beginnings of Greek written literature until deep into the Roman era, a “book” was fashioned by taking a premanufactured papyrus roll, writing out the text, attaching additional fresh rolls as the length of text required, and, when finished, cutting off the blank remainder. This article notes that literary texts were produced, in general, with strict attention. It describes what constituted the ancient book. Books on papyrus in the form of rolls (bookrolls) were the norm from the beginnings through the early Roman era. Over the course of the second to the fourth centuries
Petra M. Sijpesteijn
The Arabs enjoyed a long-standing acquaintance with papyrus and its benefits. Papyrus and other traditional media, such as ostraca, leather, parchment, textiles, stone, and bone, were already fully in use on the Arabian Peninsula in pre-Islamic times. After providing a brief history of Arabic papyrology, this article discusses the reading and publishing Arabic texts; Arabic literary and subliterary papyri; the Islamic narrative tradition; and Arabic documentary papyri.
Documentary papyri describe ancient people. Where unrelated texts are like instant snapshots, archives present a coherent film of a person, a family, or a community and may span several months, years, or decades. Bilingual archives show how some Egyptians tried to become Hellenized, but their private accounts betray their native language. An archive is bound to be of greater interest than isolated texts, and the possibilities of archival research for any aspect of life in Graeco-Roman Egypt are practically unlimited. This article offers a systematic approach to archival documents and explains what constitutes an archive, how archives come to light, how we can reconstruct them, the type of archives that may be discerned, and the types of documents in them. Such an approach to archival documentation of the ancient world has in general been attracting increasing interest and brings together scholars who are studying different regions.
This article takes a look at the wide range of daily written correspondence that survived from Roman antiquity. Tablets, letters, and papyri serve as excellent source materials from the period, and a physical description of these items is provided. This article determines that these kinds of text are of unparalleled value as information sources for the social history of Graeco-Roman antiquity. It is even possible that these documents are important for revealing the areas that lie beyond the world of family and daily life.
Papyrus conservation has had a long history since the first attempts to open the carbonized Herculaneum rolls found in 1752 and to unroll the Charta Borgiana, acquired in 1778. New techniques have always been invented and tested, and old treatments have been revised. This article records the methods used on papyrus materials. These methods include physical control; cellulose treatment; ink fixing; and conserving papyrus, mummy cartonnages, and carbonized papyri.
The process of editing a papyrus is undeniably a central aspect in the field of papyrology. This article notes that the task of a scholar who undertakes the edition of a papyrus resembles that of a detective. Following some basic methodological principles, adding a certain amount of experience gained through contact with many texts, and using state-of-the-art tools to find their way around an increasingly vast corpus of primary sources, papyrologists must fit together various pieces of a puzzle. The advent of electronic tools has made possible the quick handling of a huge mass of data, thus changing substantially many aspects of the way in which papyrologists edit their texts. Electronic tools will eventually supersede the main papyrological reference books. Supplements to Friedrich Preisigke's Wórterbuch are becoming redundant now that scholars can search the same data on the Internet.
This article focuses on Greek education during the roughly ten centuries between the conquest of Egypt by Alexander of Macedon and the Arab conquest. Egypt has offered a large quantity of educational material that permits us to glimpse the everyday, unexceptional practices of schooling and to observe certain details. This educational material is extant on papyrus, ostraca, wooden and waxed tablets, and, more rarely, parchment. The recent discovery in Alexandria of eighteen or more classrooms (auditoria) used in late antiquity for higher education is tantalizing. In this case, the literary tradition converges with the archaeological findings to spotlight a formal school setting used by grammarians, sophists, and teachers of philosophy. There are three divisions of levels of schooling: basic reading, writing, and numeracy; grammatical and orthographical knowledge of the language; and perfecting oral and written expression.
The first section of this article discusses traditional religion, looking at the Ancient Egyptian worldview, mummification and afterlife, and the role of the temples in economy and administration. The second section considers new developments in Egyptian religion such as listening gods, animal cults, Egyptian “saints”, oracles, dreams, and katochê. The third section describes the growing state intervention, examining the administration of temples, priestly privileges, temple asylum, and dynastic and imperial cults. The fourth section looks at the impact of the Greek, describing interpreatio graeca, the Hellenization of the gods, and astrology. The last section describes the end of Egyptian religion, looking at polytheism, religion without temples, and Egyptian religion within Christianity.
From the first Fayyum find until the First World War, the period of miraculous discoveries lasted barely forty years. In the present era of slavery to the mass media, A. S. Hunt was right in noting that the benefactors and institutions that provide financial support do not have an understanding of archaeology much different from that of the nineteenth century. Treasure hunting and necrophilia are still the order of the day. It is better to find a royal mummy than a papyrus and better to find a papyrus than domestic garbage, however great its informational value. Except for the special case of the Eastern Desert, it is no longer possible to be sure where to look in order to find texts, but it is still quite possible that extended excavation of what is left of urban conglomerates will produce impressive finds.
Peter van Minnen
This article looks at the future of papyrology. It draws heavily on two position papers Peter van Minen gave at international papyrological congresses: in Copenhagen in 1992 and in Vienna in 2001. The first section starts with the immediate context from which the papyri derive as physical objects. The second section concentrates on the texts written on them. The final section focuses on the wider context that produced the texts. The article concludes by noting the need for better communication between papyrologists.
Maria Rosaria Falivene
This article outlines the administrative geography of Egypt under the Graeco-Macedonian regime and as it evolved over the next millennium. This information comes from papyri and ostraca—sources that differ from the material evidence of archaeological finds yet are not so distant from these as literary evidence often is. What makes papyrological texts so informative is their being on the same timescale as the actors involved: their speaking, as it were, in everyday words. There are some downsides as well. Mahaffy's observation applies most aptly to the difficulties we encounter when trying to reconstruct the administrative framework of Graeco-Roman Egypt and having to deal with the intricacies of a territory and its management as it evolved over time and under changing regimes.
This article briefly sets forth some methodological considerations in the history of Greek and Latin writing in the papyri. The writing exercises attested in papyri, ostraca, and tablets offer many examples of training at various levels. The distinction that emerges from them is thus not between documentary and literary hands but between cursive and semicursive writing styles, in which the greater or lesser velocity of the ductus modifies the traces and forms of the letters, and regular or rather calligraphic handwritings. Starting with the fourth century, manuscripts preserved in libraries begin to be available alongside those found in archaeological excavations. Paleographical evidence can emerge from the comparison of dated or datable documentary writing and undated literary hands.
James G. Keenan
This article suggests that a strong case can be made for dating the beginning of papyrology to 1752, the year in which papyri were first discovered at Herculaneum. Nevertheless, perhaps because papyrology came to be associated with Egypt and related documents, not Italy and philosophical texts, papyrologists came to identify 1788 as marking the beginning of their discipline. In that year Danish classicist Niels Iversen Schow published a Greek papyrus that recorded a series of receipts for work performed in 193
José Luis Alonso Rodríguez
This chapter deals with the place of papyrology in Roman law studies. While Theodor Mommsen is often quoted as predicting that the twentieth century would be the century of papyrology, things look different today. The publication of papyri continues at a rate of several hundreds per year, with vast amounts waiting to be published. In addition to the large mass of papyri from Egypt, a non-negligible number of documents from the Near East have come to light. Many of these texts are private legal instruments and acts of the Roman administration, including documents arising from legal proceedings. Yet these documents rarely attract the attention of Roman law scholars. As a result, the legal questions posed by the new documents often receive insufficient attention. This chapter argues for a reconsideration of this view and for a renewed focus on papyri as a source for Roman law.
The Ptolemaic kings of Egypt ruled a variety of ethnic groups that were diverse in language, culture, religion, and legal practices. The main themes were tolerance and even the protection of particular legal traditions. By the beginning of the Roman period, changes were under way. The autonomous courts of law had by then ceased to exist. The second century
The church fathers were appalled in particular by the Gnostics' condemnation of creation. But the fact that much of their teaching was in many respects not so far from Christian dogma must have disturbed the advocates of the “real” Christian church. In some of these Gnostic systems, Christ was the main savior figure; in others, it was the forefathers of the Old Testament who guaranteed salvation; in Manichaeism, it was the new Messenger of Light, the apostle Mani, who, coming after Christ, would finally give the right revelation to the people and excel Christ in doing so. This article deals with religious groups such as these as they existed in Egypt in the Roman and late antique periods. Papyrology has played a decisive role in our understanding of the religious movements of the first centuries
The sciences that are significantly attested among the papyri are mathematics, medicine, astronomy, and astrology. Medicine and astrology were professions with numerous practitioners who possessed collections of reference texts and whose activity involved producing written documents. Astronomy had a central role in weather prediction, calendrics, and, above all, astrology. Mathematics had its uses in calculation and mensuration, and applied and theoretical mathematics were often components of technical and liberal education, respectively. These were all subjects that were cultivated for external ends at least as much as for pure intellectual satisfaction. The most obvious difference between the evidence of the medieval textual tradition, which was heavily influenced by the intellectual elite of the later Roman and Byzantine periods, and that of the papyri is that much of the papyrological record has a direct bearing on practice and applications.
This article considers three languages—Coptic, Latin, and Pehlevi—all of which were widely spoken and written in Egypt in the fourth to seventh centuries, analyzing their use and interaction with Greek, which remained the official language and is by far the most abundantly documented. Each of these languages poses in a distinctive way the problem of multilingualism or of multiliteracy and presents a nuanced picture, ranging from a nearly total and deliberate absence of bilingualism to a deep bilingualism (where the relationship between the languages tends to reverse itself), passing by way of diglossia.
The Multilingual Environment of Persian and Ptolemaic Egypt: Egyptian, Aramaic, and Greek Documentation
Dorothy J. Thompson
This article considers the extent to which the surviving documentation from the five-hundred-year period from Cambyses to Cleopatra allows us to investigate and reconstruct the changing contexts of language use and linguistic practices. It looks primarily at the main languages of the papyrological documentation such as Egyptian (demotic script), Aramaic, and Greek. It also considers Phoenician, Carian, Latin, and other languages. It examines who used which language and in what contexts, how widespread bilingualism may have been in different periods of non-Egyptian rule, how far Aramaic under the Persians and later, following Alexander's conquest, Greek took on the role of prestige languages, and, in contrast, which areas were linguistically unaffected by foreign conquest.