Article

The Multilingual Environment of Persian and Ptolemaic Egypt: Egyptian, Aramaic, and Greek Documentation

Dorothy J. Thompson

in The Oxford Handbook of Papyrology

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199843695
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199843695.013.0017

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

The Multilingual Environment of Persian and Ptolemaic Egypt: Egyptian, Aramaic, and Greek Documentation

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This article considers the extent to which the surviving documentation from the five-hundred-year period from Cambyses to Cleopatra allows us to investigate and reconstruct the changing contexts of language use and linguistic practices. It looks primarily at the main languages of the papyrological documentation such as Egyptian (demotic script), Aramaic, and Greek. It also considers Phoenician, Carian, Latin, and other languages. It examines who used which language and in what contexts, how widespread bilingualism may have been in different periods of non-Egyptian rule, how far Aramaic under the Persians and later, following Alexander's conquest, Greek took on the role of prestige languages, and, in contrast, which areas were linguistically unaffected by foreign conquest.

Keywords: Cambyses; Cleopatra; language use; linguistic practices; demotic script; papyrological documentation; Aramaic language; bilingualism; Alexander's conquest

Article.  10581 words. 

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

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