Papyrology programme

This programme consists of three courses: Introduction to Papyrology (1200 BCE-1000 CE), ‘Reading Greek Papyri’ (slot 2 + 3).

Time slot 1: Introduction to Papyrology (1200 BCE-1000 CE) (9.30-11.00)

Koen Donker van Heel, Ben Haring, Cisca Hoogendijk (Leiden), Janneke de Jong (Nijmegen), Joanne Stolk (Oslo)

Course outline:

1-2. Hieratic Papyri from Pharaonic Egypt (Ben Haring)

July 13: The student will be introduced to the hieratic script and documentary conventions of the Ancient Egyptian scribes. Hieratic is the cursive script current during the entire Pharaonic and Hellenistic Period, for documentary, religious, and literary texts. In the Hellenistic Period, its use was restricted to religious contexts (hence the Greek name ‘hieratic’, or priestly). In the previous two and a half millennia, however, it was much more universal. Aspects that will be dealt with are, among others, the relation and differences between hieratic and the monumental hieroglyphic script, the different textual genres throughout pharaonic history, and material aspects of writing and producing papyrus manuscripts. 

July 14: visit to the papyrus collection of the National Museum of Antiquities.

3-4. What Do Demotic Papyri Tell Us? (Koen Donker van Heel)

July 15: Introduction to (the history of) the demotic language and script and the role it played in Egyptian society. Survey of the wide range of sources about daily life in ancient Egypt. In the second part of this class we will address the famous Siut trial (2nd century BCE), showing what the ancient Egyptians were like in real life!

July 16: The mortuary cult. One of the ways in which the deceased could hope to survive in the hereafter was by hiring a libationer who would bring a weekly offering of water (and probably also bread, beer and incense). Some of these libationers took care of hundreds of mummies. In the second part of this class we will address women in the demotic papyri. They tell us that women were the legal equals of men. If they no longer loved their husbands they could simply go away.

5-6. A Different View: Greek Papyri from Ptolemaic Egypt (Cisca Hoogendijk)

July 17 and 20: After the conquest by Alexander the Great, Egypt for three centuries had Greek rulers, the Ptolemies. Greek thus became the language of administration, army and law and in general of the elite. After a general introduction to the world of Greek papyrology, we shall read and interpret several Greek papyrus documents (in English translation), illustrating various aspects of life in Egypt during the Ptolemaic period. A one-hour visit to the University Library is planned, during which original papyri from the collection of the Leiden Papyrological Institute will be shown.

7-8. Continuity and change: Greek papyri from Roman Egypt (Joanne Stolk)

July 21-22: After Octavian conquered Egypt in 30 BC, Egypt became part of the Roman Empire. The Romans continued the Ptolemaic system and many of the administrative practices developed in earlier periods. However, beneath the appearance of continuity, important changes took place in the distribution of power and organization of finance, taxation and legal administration. Greek remained the official language of the government, but Latin was used by the Roman military and by the very highest levels of the provincial administration. During this session, we will read and interpret Greek and a few Latin papyri (in translation), illustrating life in Egypt during the Roman period and the changes taking place in Egypt as a province under Roman rule.

9-10. From Byzantium to Bagdad: Papyri from Early Islamic Egypt (Janneke de Jong)

July 23-24: In the first half of the 7th century, Egypt faced tumultuous times. As a province of the Byzantine empire, Egypt was occupied by foreign rulers twice. First by the Sassanids, who after a brief period were expelled again by the Byzantines. In the 640’s, however, Arab warriors conquered the province and took control of Alexandria and other strategic points. Egypt was now cut off from the Byzantine empire and incorporated in the Islamic empire that was coming into existence. In the next century and a half, the cultural and linguistic landscape of Egypt transformed. Processes of Arabisation and Islamisation were set in motion. These lectures discuss the impact of the Arabic conquest of Egypt on the basis of the papyrological documentation in the period of transformation in the 7th and 8th century AD.

No previous knowledge of the languages in question is required.

There may be short daily homework assignments, and, for additional ECTS points, a take-home final exam.

No textbook is required, course documents will be sent to the students two weeks before the Summer School to print out, or provided in class.

Time slot 2 + 3: ‘Reading Greek Papyri’ (11.30 - 13.00 + 14.00 - 15.30)

Cisca Hoogendijk (Leiden) and Joanne Stolk (Oslo)

Course description
The aim of this course is to give students a working knowledge of ancient Greek handwriting on papyrus and some insight into the editorial practice of papyrology. The two slots form one single course and cannot be chosen separately. In slot 1, students will get acquainted with the various writing styles and periods from the fourth century BCE to the eighth century CE. Special attention will be given to the physical aspect of papyri (margins, sheet joins, etc.) and the distinguishing characteristics of handwriting in the various writing styles (literary and documentary) and periods. In the 2nd slot, students will bring their knowledge into practice, during which they will get the opportunity to study one or more original papyri from the papyrus collection of the Leiden Papyrological Institute.

Knowledge of ancient Greek is required.

There will be short daily homework assignments, and, for additional ECTS points, a take-home final exam in the form of the ‘edition’ of a papyrus.

No textbook is required; course documents will be sent to the students two weeks before the Summer School to print out, or provided in class.

Introductory reading
G. Cavallo, ‘Greek and Latin Writing in the Papyri’ in: R.S. Bagnall (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Papyrology (Oxford 2009), pp. 101- 148 (also online)
F.A.J. Hoogendijk, ‘Palaeography’ in: Encyclopedia of Ancient Greek Language and Linguistics, Volume 3: P-Z, Index (Leiden-Boston 2014)(also online)
E.G. Turner, Greek Manuscripts of the Ancient World, Second Edition Revised and Enlarged, Edited by P.J. Parsons (BICS 46, London 1987), Introduction, pp. 1-23

Online resources