Everyday Writing in the Graeco-Roman East

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University of California Press, Jan 5, 2011 - Social Science - 200 pages
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Most of the everyday writing from the ancient world—that is, informal writing not intended for a long life or wide public distribution—has perished. Reinterpreting the silences and blanks of the historical record, leading papyrologist Roger S. Bagnall convincingly argues that ordinary people—from Britain to Egypt to Afghanistan—used writing in their daily lives far more extensively than has been recognized. Marshalling new and little-known evidence, including remarkable graffiti recently discovered in Smyrna, Bagnall presents a fascinating analysis of writing in different segments of society. His book offers a new picture of literacy in the ancient world in which Aramaic rivals Greek and Latin as a great international language, and in which many other local languages develop means of written expression alongside these metropolitan tongues.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
The Graffiti of Smyrna
7
2 The Ubiquity of Documents in the Hellenistic East
27
3 Documenting Slavery in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt
54
4 Greek and Coptic in Late Antique Egypt
75
5 Greek and Syriac in the Roman Near East
95
A Culture of Potsherds?
117
Conclusion
139
Notes
145
Bibliography
161
Index
175
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About the author (2011)

Roger S. Bagnall is Professor of Ancient History and Director at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University and the author most recently of Early Christian Books in Egypt.

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