What's New in Papyrology

Recent publications of papyri & ostraca 4th BC-8th AD; conferences, lectures etc. from Papy-L and other sources as noted. gregg.schwendner AT wichita.edu

Thursday, January 03, 2008

ASP session at the APA Sat. Jan 5. and Egypt at the AIA

In its annual panel, the American Society of
Papyrologists endeavors to highlight the richness,
variety and importance of the resources of papyrology
as original records of the history, culture and society of
Egypt from the Ptolemaic and Roman periods to late
antiquity. This session offers a selection of papers that
reflects the variety of topics—political, social, economic,
religious, legal, grammatical and literary—that Demotic
and Greek papyri document and illuminate.

1. Andrew Monson, Stanford University
The Fiscal Regime in Transition: Private Land from
Ptolemaic to Roman Egypt
(15 mins.)

2. Joseph Manning, Stanford University
The Logic of Receipts (15 mins.)

3. Foy Scalf, The University of Chicago
Religious Significance of the Formulaic Demotic
Funerary Texts from Roman Egypt
(15 mins.)

4. Stephen Bay, Brigham Young University
Postponement of Conjunctive gar in the Papyri
(15 mins.)

5. Raffaella Cribiore, Columbia University
Menander the Poet or Menander Rhetor? An Encomium of Dioscorus Again (15 mins.)

6. Sabine Hübner, Columbia University
The “In-Marrying Son-in-Law.” Perspectives on Family Strategies and Old Age Support in Roman Egypt (15 mins.)

Friday, Jan. 4
1. Dirk Obbink, University of Oxford
Editing Classical Commentary (5 mins.)

EGYPT at the AIA

Nursing Mothers in Greek and Roman Medicine
Julie Laskaris, University of Richmond

This paper explores the use in Greek and Roman medicine of a substance with strong symbolic meaning—human milk. Of earlier Greek sources, human milk, sometimes specifically from "one who has borne a male child" (kourotrophos-usually a religious term), appears only in gynaecological texts. In works arising in a Roman context, it is recommended for both sexes. The use of human milk in Greek medicine was an adaptation of Egyptian practices, where the "milk of one who has borne a male child" is poured from an anthropomorphic vase of Isis nursing Horus, and thereby transformed into a divine mother's milk. Such vases, some perhaps of Greek manufacture, were found in Geometric/orientalizing contexts in areas in contact with Egypt. This, together with evidence for Isis worship in Greece, suggests Greek knowledge of this ritual. Owing to Etruscan influence, Roman society was less polarized sexually than Greek, and more accepting of women's physical nature. The Etruscans' and Romans' rich tradition of depicting nursing mothers stands in sharp contrast to Greek chariness about depicting the female breast (L. Bonfante, "Nursing Mothers in Classical Art," in Naked Truths: Women, Sexuality, and Gender in Classical Art and Archaeology, [London and New York, 1997], 174-196.) Likewise, in medical works arising in the Roman context, human milk therapies lose their gender-specificity. Thus we see that medical practice, too, may vary with varying symbolic meanings.

Reconstructing the Past: Insula of the Papyri at Tebtunis, Egypt
D.J. Ian Begg, Trent University and Todd Brenningmeyer, Maryville University

Tebtunis was a Graeco-Roman sanctuary town in the Fayyum basin southwest of Cairo. In 1934 Gilbert Bagnani found an enormous deposit of papyri in a large rectangular complex, the Insula of the Papyri. Six houses of identical plans, two magazines and two granaries were among the enclosed structures excavated. Although Roman in date within a Greek settlement, the plan resembles Egyptian walled compounds of the Middle Kingdom. Unfortunately, a full report of the original excavations and plans of the architecture were never published. After Bagnani's excavations, wind, sand, and time eroded, reburied, or removed many walls. The original form, dimension, and configuration of much of the architecture uncovered by Bagnani now exist only in terrestrial photographs and two series of overlapping aerial images that were taken in 1934 and 1936. A project to reconstruct the architecture using the terrestrial and aerial photos, recently acquired Quickbird satellite imagery, softcopy photogrammetric tools, and GIS is currently underway. The aerial images provide a photogrammetrically accurate depiction of the site as it appeared when first uncovered. Architectural details including wall heights, widths, and excavated room volumes are mensurated and reconstructed using photogrammetric techniques. The combination of archived stereo-imagery and terrestrial photos with more recent data provides an opportunity to look directly into the past and reconstruct the walls as they appeared when first uncovered. The poster presents the process and preliminary results of the effort to reconstruct one part of Tebtunis digitally from the old and new types of imagery

At Empire's Edge: Roman Depictions of the "Other" Before and After Conquest
Maria Swetnam-Burland, Portland State University

Representations of conquered peoples and symbols of their defeat could be found throughout Rome, from spolia in temples to obelisks in public porticoes to karyatid-like sculptures of barbarians bearing the weight of imperial monuments. In this paper, I examine an evolution in the uses and meanings of symbols of the conquered in representations of foreign lands before and after Roman conquest. I focus particularly on a representation of Egypt from Karanis. Such representations changed after the battle of Actium from displaying a quasi-anthropological interest in Egyptian culture to exhibiting a condescending, almost mocking, attitude. I contend that in the early empire, the definition of "Egyptian" expanded to include areas just beyond Roman control, hence, at the edge of the known world. Early imperial representations of Egypt differ from representations of other conquered peoples because of Egypt's long-standing ties with Rome. While contemporary representations of other barbarian peoples illustrated the civilizing influence of Roman culture, representations of Egypt from this period ignored the realities of life under Roman rule. At the same time, representations of Egypt and other territories illustrate, though in different ways, how Romans living in Italy redefined their position at the heart of an expanding empire, and reflect a common legitimizing strategy that highlighted the benefits to Rome of the flow of needed resources from the edges of the empire to the capital city.

Rituals of Destruction and Agents of Iconoclasm in the Late Roman Empire
Troels Myrup Kristensen, University of Aarhus

Most studies of early Christian destruction of pagan sculpture have focused on exceptionally extensive and laborious cases, such as can be observed at Sperlonga. These destructive acts are usually attributed to monks, Christian fanatics, or furious mobs, all of which are stereotypes derived from the literary sources. This paper discusses the rich and varied archaeological material for early Christian iconoclasm from the eastern Mediterranean, with special emphasis on Turkey and southern Egypt. It shows that the destruction and mutilation of statues was carried out in a multitude of ways by a broad spectrum of agents and with a wide variety of meanings. Systematic destruction of pagan statuary, never advocated by imperial legislation, was rarely practiced. Rather, a picture emerges of selective destruction, both of the monuments targeted and the different ways they were targeted. The various forms of selective destruction are highly informative of the agents responsible and make it possible to interpret their motives. The temples of southern Egypt thus present several cases of ritual destruction that can be connected with local traditions of pilgrimage. Early Christian iconoclasm is therefore best understood in both its religious and social context, especially at the local and regional levels.

Sand and Coral: The Late Roman Houses of Berenike, Egypt
Jennifer E. Gates, University of Cambridge

The absence of scientifically excavated household contexts from Late Roman Egypt has long hindered the comparative analysis of household dynamics outside the nexus of Alexandria. In recent decades, however, Late Roman residential units have been systematically examined in widely varying regions of the Egyptian countryside, offering glimpses into the diverse morphology of house forms and regional differences in the organization of space. Much of this new work has occurred outside the Nile Valley in oasis towns and desert settlements, material with its own special regional situation on the margins of Egyptian society. As a case study, this paper brings together recently excavated material from the Late Roman town quarter of Berenike, on the Red Sea coast of Egypt, and considers its relationship to Late Roman housing forms in the Fayyum, Alexandria, and the oases of the Western Desert. Through close analysis of architectural form and construction, as well as the excavated contents of the Berenike quarter, issues of site formation, the organization of space and activity areas are considered in the context of the site as a whole, and in relation to structures of comparable date in other parts of Egypt. Through this analysis, assumptions about the social organization of life at Late Roman Berenike are examined and the larger contribution of household studies to our understanding of social behavior is considered in an Egyptian context.