Papyrology programme

The programme consists of three courses: Introduction to Papyrology (1200 BCE - 1000 CE) in time slot 1 and Reading Greek Papyri (slot 2 + 3). As to the fourth course, the students may consider to take 'Introduction to Mycenaean' from the Indo-European programme.

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

Koen Donker van Heel, Margaretha Folmer, Ben Haring, Cisca Hoogendijk, Eline Scheerlinck (Leiden) en Joanne Stolk (Gent)

Course outline

1-2. Hieratic Papyri from Pharaonic Egypt (Ben Haring)
July 10: Following a general introduction to this course by Cisca Hoogendijk, Ben Haring will introduce the students 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 11: visit to the papyrus collection of the National Museum of Antiquities.

3. Aramaic Papyri from Achaemenid Egypt (Margaretha Folmer)
July 12: During the Achaemenid rule of the Ancient Near East (c. 550-332 BCE) Aramaic was used as the official language of communication and administration in every corner of this vast empire. A special case is the island of Elephantine in Upper Egypt. A group of Judean mercenaries stationed on this island has left behind a particularly rich and well preserved collection of Aramaic papyri datable to the 5th c. BCE. Among the papyri are legal documents, private letters, communal letters, administrative documents and a famous literary text which until the present day circulates among native speakers of Aramaic (the story and wisdom of the wise Ahiqar). After a general introduction we will read in translation part of a correspondence concerning the destruction and rebuilding of the local Judean temple at Elephantine. We will discuss several aspects of letter writing (such as the writing material, the layout and the style used in these letters) and the historical and religious relevance of these texts.

4-5. Cultural diversity: Greek Papyri from Ptolemaic Egypt (Joanne Stolk)
July 13-14: After the conquest by Alexander the Great Egypt became a Hellenistic kingdom ruled by the Ptolemies. Greek became the new language of administration and the aristocracy, but the rulers also adopted many Egyptian traditions. How Greek was Ptolemaic Egypt? And how did Greeks and Egyptians live together in this multicultural society? 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 multicultural life in Egypt during the Ptolemaic period.

6-7. Continuity and Change: Greek papyri from Roman Egypt (Cisca Hoogendijk)
July 17-18: After Octavian conquered Egypt in 30 BCE, 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. During this session we shall read and interpret Greek and a few Latin papyri (in English translation), illustrating life in Egypt during the Roman period and the changes taking place in Egypt as a province under Roman rule.
On July 17 the students will also visit a small exhibition of some original papyri from the collection of the Leiden Papyrological Institute.

8-9. What Do Demotic Papyri Tell Us? (Koen Donker van Heel)
July 19: 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 20: 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.

10. From Byzantium to Bagdad: Papyri from Early Islamic Egypt (Eline Scheerlinck)
July 21: 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 and 3: Reading Greek Papyri (11.30 - 13.00 and 14.00 - 15.30)

Cisca Hoogendijk (Leiden) with Joanne Stolk (Ghent) duting week 1 and Eline Scheerlinck (Leiden) during week 2.

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