Webinar: Greek Documentary Practice in Egypt from Byzantium to Islam (6th-8th c.)

Lajos Berkes (Institute for Papyrology, University of Heidelberg) is offering in Winter Semester 2016/17, in cooperation with Heidelberg’s Center for Cultural Heritage, an online seminar on Greek Documentary Practice in Egypt from Byzantium to Islam (6th-8th c.). The course is free of charge and will take place Thursdays, 16:15 – 17:45, Central European Time. The first meeting will be October 20, 2016 and the course will run until February 9, 2017. The language of instruction is English, and good knowledge of Greek is required. Certificates will be issued upon successful completion of the class.

Those wishing to take part should send a statement of interest and CV to Michaela Böttner (boettner@uni-heidelberg.de) by September 30. Questions about the course can be directed to Laios Berkes (lios.berkes@uni-heidelberg.de). Please be advised that the number of people who will be permitted to participate is limited to ten.

Course Description

Papyri from Egypt are extraordinary sources of information about documentary practice of the early Byzantine empire. Tens of thousands of letters, contracts, receipts and other documents shed light on aspects of everyday life that can barely be seen elsewhere around the Mediterranean. After the Islamic conquest in 642, Greek continued to be employed both in the private sphere and administration, where it was used probably up to the early 9th century. In this webinar we will decipher, translate and interpret documents both on papyrus and other writing materials (ostraca, parchment, etc.) written in Greek from a variety of genres and contexts from Byzantine and early Islamic Egypt.
Discussion of the documents will include paleographic, historical and linguistic aspects. Through comparison with parallel material from other provinces we will look at the problem of the uniqueness of the Egyptian papyri: to what extent do they represent realities of the Byzantine empire? Special emphasis will also be placed on the status of the Greek language and Hellenic culture under Islamic rule.

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