The Ubiquity of Documents in the Hellenistic East

Roger S. Bagnall

in Everyday Writing in the Graeco-Roman East

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780520267022
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520948525 | DOI:
The Ubiquity of Documents in the Hellenistic East

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This chapter looks more broadly at the implications of archaeology for understanding the patterns of usage of a broader category of writing, documents of everyday life in the Hellenistic world on papyrus and parchment. It argues that even a limited understanding of the role of writing in ancient societies will not be reached without serious reflection about the archaeology of papyrology. The chapter discusses two main lines of approach: First, it demonstrates that the surviving documentation of Hellenistic Egypt is fundamentally misleading about what was committed to writing in that society; the second that the use of written documents elsewhere in Greece and the Greek East during the Hellenistic period can be revealed more. It notes that although the juxtaposition of what sound like both a pessimistic and an optimistic argument may appear paradoxical, they are closely related.

Keywords: archaeology; writing; Hellenistic world; papyrus; parchment; papyrology; Egypt; Greece

Chapter.  7914 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Greek and Roman Archaeology

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