Roger S. Bagnall

in The Oxford Handbook of Roman Studies

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780199211524
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History


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  • Classical Studies
  • Greek and Roman Papyrology
  • Historical Archaeology



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.

Keywords: Roman Empire; papyrology; papyri; history; language; education; books; writing; Egypt

Article.  5467 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Greek and Roman Papyrology ; Historical Archaeology

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