Papyrus archives and collections

Teaching Staff: Malouta Myrto
Course Code: ARC00300
Alt Code: Α300
Field: Archives
Course Category: Specific Background
Course Type: Elective
Course Level: Undergraduate
Course Language: Greek
Delivery method: Face to face
Semester: 8th
Total Hours: 3
E Class Page:
Short Description:

The public and private documents of Graeco-roman Egypt preserve snapshots from the life and activities of a very diverse segment of the population, thus covering the huge gaps left by the historiography of that period, especially regarding social history, the history of everyday life, but also economic history, demography, legal history and history of institutions etc. The temporal extent and continuity of sense that the papyrus archives offer, compared to single documents, are of course valuable in this respect.

Different types of papyrus archives, public and private, are examined within this course, in order to reveal the main methods according to which they were formed and the principles according to which they are characterized as such by scholars. The distinction between archives and dossiers is described in detail and the meaning of bibliotheke in the language of the roman administration is defined. The modern distribution and organization of papyri in collections of universities, libraries and museums is also described, on the basis of criteria such as their provenance, the institution that carried out the excavation in which they were found, agreements between institutions etc.

Of particular interest to students of the Department of Archives, Library Science and Museology is the examination of digital papyrus collections and the various tools developed for research in this field. Emphasis is given to the Papyrological Editor, a text-based crowdsourcing platform with a specially developed encoding system based on the TEI standard.

Objectives - Learning Outcomes:

The framework of tools and resources for the study of archives and collections of papyri, both in terms of physical collections and their digital presence, has been effected in an exemplary way. DALS students, by becoming familiar with the setup of this particular field, acquire knowledge and transferable skills, that can be applied to many areas where they will be required to manage large amounts of information. The fact that they have already been taught xml makes it easy to introduce them to text encoding on the Papyrological Editor platform.


Week #1: General introduction; papyri as history sources.

Week #2: Overview of papyrus archives. Definition, various types, content, examples.

Week #3: Definitions of main terms, including archive, dossier, bibliotheke.

Week #4: The operation of archives in Antiquity and their preservation today.

Week #5: The organization of public archives in Graeco-roman Egypt: tomoi syncollesimoi, bibliophylakes and bibliothekai.

Week #6: Familiarization with on-line tools and databases for the study of papyrus archives.

Week #7: Practice using on-line tools and databases for the study of papyrus archives.

Week #8: The Papyrological Editor platform. Introduction and encoding practice in TEI EpiDoc and Leiden+.

Week #9: The Papyrological Editor platform. Encoding practice in TEI EpiDoc and Leiden+.

Week #10: The Papyrological Editor platform. Encoding practice in TEI EpiDoc and Leiden+.

Week #11: Essay presentation.

Week #12: Essay presentation.

Week #13: Essay presentation.

Suggested Bibliography:

Main bibliography

  • Clarysse, W. (2003) "Tomoi Synkollesimoi", στο Brosius (επιμ.) Ancient Archives and Archival Traditions. Concepts of Record-Keeping in the Ancient World, Oxford, OUP: 344-359. (στο e-class, μαζί με περίληψη στα ελληνικά)
  • Parsons, P. (2008) Οξύρυγχος, η πόλη που έφερε το όνομα ενός ψαριού. Αθήνα, Ενάλιος.
  • Vandorpe, K. (2009) "Archives and Dossiers", στο S. Bagnall (επιμ.) Oxford Handbook of Papyrology, Oxford, OUP: 216-255. (στο e-class, μαζί με περίληψη στα ελληνικά)

Papyrus text anthologies

  • Hunt, A.S. - Edgar, C.C. - Page D.L. (επιμ. 1938-42) Select Papyri, Cambridge Mass., Harvard - Heinemann
  • Mitteis, L. - Wilcken, U. (1963) Grundzuge und Chrestomathie der Papyrskunde, Hildesheim, Georg Olms.
  • Παπαθωμάς, Α. (2008) Αρχαία ελληνικά κείμενα σε παπύρους της ελληνορωμαϊκής περιόδου, Αθήνα, Εκδοτικός Οργανισμός Π. Κυριακίδη.
  • Pestman, P.W. (1990) The New Papyrological Primer, Leiden, Brill.
  • Sammelbuch griech. Urkunden aus Ägypten (διάφοροι επιμ. 1915- σήμερα). [Η βιλιοθήκη του ΙΠ έχει τους τόμους Ι, ΙΙ, ΙΙΙ και ΧVIII] 

Useful websites

Teaching Methods:

Lectures making extensive use of visual aids, practice using computers.

New Technologies:


Evaluation Methods:

Written examination (50%), essay and presentation (50%).


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