Archives and Dossiers

Katelijn Vandorpe

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

 Archives and Dossiers

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  • Classical Studies
  • Greek and Roman Papyrology
  • Historical Archaeology


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Documentary papyri describe ancient people. Where unrelated texts are like instant snapshots, archives present a coherent film of a person, a family, or a community and may span several months, years, or decades. Bilingual archives show how some Egyptians tried to become Hellenized, but their private accounts betray their native language. An archive is bound to be of greater interest than isolated texts, and the possibilities of archival research for any aspect of life in Graeco-Roman Egypt are practically unlimited. This article offers a systematic approach to archival documents and explains what constitutes an archive, how archives come to light, how we can reconstruct them, the type of archives that may be discerned, and the types of documents in them. Such an approach to archival documentation of the ancient world has in general been attracting increasing interest and brings together scholars who are studying different regions.

Keywords: documentary papyri; archival research; Graeco-Roman Egypt; archival documents; archival documentation; ancient world

Article.  14394 words. 

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

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