Greek and Syriac in the Roman Near 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:
Greek and Syriac in the Roman Near East

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This chapter focuses primarily on the dialects of Aramaic, especially Syriac, in a part of the ancient Near East for which it has much less surviving written material than it has from Egypt. It adduces the remarkable discoveries of documents in Bactrian in the last fifteen years, which help to provide an unexpected and revealing eastern perspective on the situation in western Asia. The chapter notes that the Aramaic zone differed from the Egyptian in some ways: One is that Aramaic had been, under the Persian empire and even afterward, an official language in which the empire's business and that of individuals was conducted over a vast geographic span, from the first cataract of the Nile to at least Bactria; second is that there was probably no period at which Aramaic was not used in some written form for everyday purposes.

Keywords: dialects; Aramaic; Syriac; Near East; Egypt; Bactrian; Persian empire; Nile

Chapter.  7268 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Greek and Roman Archaeology

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