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.
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.
For the first thousand years after the end of the classical period, documentary papyri constitute the most important source of information on the development of the Greek language. Meanwhile, Greek writing tablets rarely survive, so that the vast majority of the extant corpus of subliterary Hellenistic and Roman Greek comes from documents written on papyri or ostraca in Egypt. The Greek in which these documents were written is considered to be a form of koinê. Postclassical literature in both Greek and Latin tended to take the classical model as a goal to be imitated linguistically. The languages, as they were learned by children and used in ordinary conversation, were constantly evolving. This article describes Greek phonology, Greek morphology and syntax, Greek vocabulary, and the Latin of papyri and ostraca.
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
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.
David G. Martinez
Two events, one occurring during Greek rule in Egypt and the other during Roman rule, brought about a new status for the great world language. The first was the translation of the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, produced in Egypt, starting early in the Ptolemaic dynasty. The second was the advent of Christianity and the vigorous production and dissemination of Greek Christian scriptures and other sacred material in Egypt and throughout the Mediterranean world. This article reflects Greek in its capacity as the language of the sacred, as well as of daily life in early Christianity. It examines Christian literary papyri and Christian documentary papyri.
This article argues that manuscript studies is similar to papyrology. However, people are dealing with the more direct, and to that extent more ‘original’, sources, whose study expands the body of textual evidence for ancient Greece today – notably the papyri scraps of Oxyrhynchus, and the bookrolls of Herculaneum. It is true that new imaging techniques constantly improve the quantity and quality of the texts people can recover. However, upon reflection working with the Herculaneum papyri, it remains the case that, whether people are considering a medieval manuscript or a first-century papyrus, the evidence these provide is determined by their reception.
Roger S. Bagnall
In a broad sense, papyrology is a discipline concerned with the recovery and exploitation of ancient artefacts bearing writing, and of the textual material preserved on such artefacts. For the most part it focuses on what can be called the spectrum of everyday writing, rather than forms of writing intended for publicity and permanence, most of which were inscribed on stone or metal and belong to epigraphy in the scholarly division of labour. For enviromental reasons, most papyrological material does come from Egypt. The Ptolemaic kingdom was the last of the main Hellenistic states to come to an end and be taken into the Roman Empire. But papyrological evidence for matters Roman goes back to the century before Actium. This article focuses on papyri and Roman history, and looks at a few areas in which important work has been done in recent years, including language, education and ownership of books, and the ubiquity of writing.
This article discusses literary and subliterary papyri; papyri and Egyptian literature; the study of Greek literature; and papyri and Latin literature. The texts inscribed on these materials are the source for the longest and most important Egyptian literary compositions known from the Pharaonic and Hellenistic periods. “Subliterary” papyri include papyri containing texts such as commentaries, lexica, and grammatical treatises, which are in some sense ancillary to the study of the major genres and have traditionally been so regarded. Hieratic and demotic papyri, including wooden writing boards and ostraca, are responsible for our knowledge of most of the Egyptian texts that contain narrative tales and fables, instructions or precepts, and love poetry. Meanwhile, the body of ancient Greek literature continued to expand on the basis of papyrological evidence.