cod. 1005228

Academic year 2017/18
2° year of course - First semester
Academic discipline
Papirologia (L-ANT/05)
Ambito aggregato per crediti di sede
Type of training activity
30 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Learning objectives

Purpose of the course is the introduction to a deeper knowledge of Papyrology, of its methodology of research and study of the papyri as original artefacts and as sources for history and literature. A privileged focus will be the ‘global’ approach to the papyrus sources as ‘first-hand’ witnesses of the ancient writing and book phenomenologies and of a complex and multicultural historical-social context, as well as the socio-cultural meaning of the various text typologies attested.


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Course unit content

Course title: The Greek papyri and Herodotus – a diachronic and cross-cultural journey.

The course aims at providing a different and innovative perspective on the Greek papyri as products and witnesses of the history, society, and culture of Hellenistic-Roman Egypt. Through the thematic comparison between the description of Egypt depicted by Herodotus in the V century BC and the picture emerging from the later papyrus records, it will be illustrated on one hand the long duration of historical-social and cultural phenomena in ancient Egypt, and on the other hand the value of the papyri as sources for a global knowledge of the ancient world, not only Graeco-Roman, as well as the socio-cultural meaning of the various text typologies attested.. A selection of significant texts will be presented and commented in translation.

Full programme

Herodotus, the Greeks, and Egypt (“Eldorado on the Nile” in Herodas, Mime 1, and Theocritus, Idyll. 14). Gift of the Nile: documents on water regime and calendar issues. Measuring Egypt: land surveys, registers, and distributions. Marvelous Egypt: testimonies of the mysterious “labyrinth” and of the earlier writings. Religious Egypt: divine onomastics of places and persons between interpretation graeca and Ptolemaic syncretism. Oracles and the corpus of oracular papyri. Egypt of the astrologers: books and documents on astrology. Egypt and the animals: the archives of the crocodile god at Tebtunis. Egyptian medical writing between theory, practice, and Hellenization. Mummification and the papyri of funerary provenance. Food: a recipe for barley bread and documents on wine cultivation. Pieces of evidence of social life. Multilingual Egypt : the cultural role of interpreters. To the frontiers of Egypt: books and documents from the borders. Papyrus and parchment: technical and theoretical questions. Herodotus in the education of the Greeks in Egypt.


E.G. Turner, Papiri greci, ed. by M. Manfredi, Roma: Carocci 2002.
A.K. Bowman, L’Egitto dopo i Faraoni, Firenze: Giunti 1997.
P. Parsons, La scoperta di Ossirinco. La vita quotidiana in Egitto al tempo dei Romani, Roma: Carocci 2014.
R.S. Bagnall, Papiri e storia antica, ed. it. a cura di M. Capasso, Roma: Bardi 2007.
G. Cavallo, La scrittura greca e latina dei papiri. Una introduzione, Roma: Serra 2008.
H. Blanck, Il libro nel mondo antico, ed. by R. Otranto, Bari: Dedalo 2008.

Teaching methods

Frontal classes with PowerPoint slides. Study materials provided in class.

Assessment methods and criteria

Oral examination. It will be verified the knowledge of the main features of the texts presented and commented in class (in Italian translation), of the historical-cultural contexts discussed during the course, and of the reference manual.
The examination will comprise one question about a reading chosen by the student among the “reference texts” indicated above (evaluated from 1 to 10 points), one about the topics presented in the classes (from 1 to 10 points), one about a topic to be selected by the student either from the chosen reading or from the class topics. To be evaluated are: (a) the ability to understand ad re-elaborate critically the specific issues of the discipline; (b) the ability to orient among the topics and the central themes of the discipline; (c) the ability to present and contextualize efficaciously the notions learned.
N.B. If the student did not attend the BA course of Papyrology (“Papirologia LT”) previously, the reading of Turner’s manual is profoundly recommended.

Other information

Beside the regular classes, optional seminarial activities of trasncription and edition of unpublished Greek papyri from Tebtunis will be organized. The papyri belong to the collection of the Center for the Tebtunis Papyri, Bancroft Library, University of California at Berkeley.