Everyday Writing in the Græco-Roman East by Roger S. Bagnall

By Roger S. Bagnall

Most of the typical writing from the traditional world—that is, casual writing no longer meant for a longevity or extensive public distribution—has perished. Reinterpreting the silences and blanks of the old list, major papyrologist Roger S. Bagnall convincingly argues that standard people—from Britain to Egypt to Afghanistan—used writing of their day-by-day lives way more generally than has been famous. Marshalling new and little-known facts, together with outstanding graffiti lately came upon in Smyrna, Bagnall provides a desirable research of writing in several segments of society. His publication bargains a brand new photograph of literacy within the old global during which Aramaic opponents Greek and Latin as a good overseas language, and within which many different neighborhood languages strengthen technique of written expression along those metropolitan tongues.

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Private letters also go back in some numbers to the early second millennium, but far fewer of them are preserved. 24 These tablets, it should be kept in mind, have generally survived only where fire has baked them; otherwise they have disintegrated. In terms of taphonomy, once again something that we would think of as inherently destructive to documents has actually become their means of survival. The Elamite tablets mention leather documents. Although such are not preserved from Persepolis, a substantial trove of sealings found at Daskyleion (fig.

1–3, 6; by permission of Deniz Kaptan. figure 16. Archives at Seleucia-on-Tigris, plan. Courtesy of Vito Messina. Documents in the Hellenistic East | 45 figure 17. Dura-Europos, archives, plan. Courtesy of Yale University Art Gallery, Dura-Europos Collection. e. e. was found, showing images of origins ranging from Roman to Bactrian; a few were also found on another hill. Most show on their backs the impression of the string from tying up the now-lost document (Khachatrian 1996). These documents are argued to have been private economic documents rather than government records.

They cite inscriptions for this view, and they point to the use of local languages in non-Greek areas, continuing Achaemenid practice. ” As a result, he notes, there must have been numerous archival centers in the empire, reaching at a minimum down to district capitals. ” Now it might be argued that in discussing parts of the Seleucid kingdom with their Achaemenid heritage we are so far dealing with other Documents in the Hellenistic East | 47 areas of the Near East that might, like Egypt, have been document-obsessed because of older, indigenous patterns in the use of writing, and that all of this tells us nothing about Greek habits.

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