Todd M. Hickey

in The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199252466
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History


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The process of deciphering and interpreting texts written or incised upon various media is known as papyrology. These media could be papyrus, wood, linen, treated animal skins, or pottery. Most of the texts with which papyrologists are concerned come from Egypt. When referring to most texts with Egyptian provenance, Byzantine papyrology may be considered as having the reign of Diocletian as its starting point, although more precise periodization can be argued in order to distinguish a late antique period (up to c.450) from the Byzantine Era (c.450 to the Islamic Conquest). The languages of the papyri of these centuries are primarily Greek, Latin, and Coptic, along with Syriac, Pahlavi, Armenian, and Gothic. There are two kinds of papyri, literary and documentary, although a third category, subliterary, covering texts such as amulets and horoscopes, is often added. Examples of excellent sources of information about papyrus around the world are the Leuven Homepage of Papyrus Collections, the APIS (Advanced Papyrological Information System) Project union catalogue, and the Duke Databank of Documentary Papyri, which is currently hosted by the Perseus Project.

Keywords: papyrology; papyrus; Egypt; Byzantine Era; Papyrus Collections; union catalogue; Documentary Papyri

Article.  3992 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Greek and Roman Papyrology

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