Abbreviations and Symbols

Nikolaos Gonis

in The Oxford Handbook of Papyrology

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199843695
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

 Abbreviations and Symbols

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  • Classical Studies
  • Greek and Roman Papyrology
  • Historical Archaeology


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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.

Keywords: Verschleifungen; Greek documentary papyri; abbreviations; tax accounts; monograms

Article.  3100 words. 

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

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