Abstracts

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Ptolemaic biographies of women and a couple

John Baines (Oxford)

Just a few biographical texts for women are known from the Ptolemaic period, but more than for earlier times. The principal examples are diverse in theme and character. Unlike men’s self-presentations, which are strongly ego-centred, those of women have meaning in relation to men—notably where both of a couple’s examples survive—and to their social group. The richest examples are among the most original known texts in the genre, and they partake in a broader tendency to elaborate structure and fictionalization. This paper surveys and discusses ideological and literary aspects of the compositions of Tathoth, Khreduankh, and Taimhotep and Psherenptah.

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An unpublished fragment of the Ritual of Opening of the Mouth

Martin Bommas (Birmingham)

The unedited papyrus CGT 54044 is a rare example of a New Kingdom manuscript that contains recitations performed during the Ritual of Opening the Mouth. Although the beginning consists of a series of fragments, enough is preserved to identify this manuscript as different from the versions collected by E. Otto, Das ägyptische Mundöffnungsritual. The text preserved on the verso is unpublished and without parallel. Writing in an archaic settlement Richard Bußmann (UCL) [r.bussmann@ucl.ac.uk] Early writing in Egypt has become a much debated topic in the last twenty years. The discovery of late predynastic written evidence in tomb U-j at Abydos has fuelled the discussion, within Egyptology and related disciplines, on intellectual achievements reflected in writing, the iconic nature of early scripts, the relationship between language and writing, and the impact of writing on society, especially in the fields of literacy, power, and history writing. While it is generally agreed that writing was a medium restricted to be used by the core elite few studies on early Egyptian writing include evidence beyond royal and elite tombs. This paper gives an overview of the early Dynastic and early Old Kingdom sealing corpus from the temple and settlement area of Hierakonpolis. Although analysis of the largely unpublished material is in its infancy some questions on the specific setting of the corpus within Egyptian society will be discussed, such as the use of images within communication, access to and spread of writing, and the archaeological embeddedness of writing in an archaic settlement.

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Tomb Robbery Papyri: Fragments, palaeography, and—oh, yes—grammar

Mark Collier (Liverpool)

There is much still to be done on the later group of tomb robbery papyri held in the UK (particularly Peet’s Group V): there are additional fragments to P. BM EA 10052 which have not yet been published; good quality infrared photographs of P. Mayer A made in the 1950s provide a means of getting round some of the problems with the nineteenth century coating applied to this papyrus; A. C. Harris’ original notebooks have been identified in the Graeco-Roman Museum in Alexandria and provide valuable information on the original condition of the Harris tomb robbery papyri at that time (1850s). This will be a presentation bringing these things together, as well as discussing palaeographical issues (are P. BM EA 10052 and P. Mayer A written by the same hand, as Peet notes in passing?) and, of course, grammatical issues as well.

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Ostracon, inscription, or dipinto?: Coptic texts from Wadi Sarga

Jennifer Cromwell(Liverpool)

Almost four hundred texts from Wadi Sarga, a 6th–8th century monastic complex approximately 25 km south of Asyut, have been published to date. The number of unpublished items from the site catalogued as ‘ostracon’ in the British Museum’s catalogue—over a thousand items—far outnumbers this. Among this material are texts of the same kind as those already published, primarily accounts and receipts, but the majority are of a different type: very short passages either written, painted, or incised on amphorae and other vessels. At the 26th International Congress of Papyrologists (Geneva, 2010), Jean-Luc Fournet (Paris) discussed a similar class of objects written in Greek from Aphrodito, arguing that these should be referred to not as ‘ostraca’ but as ‘dipinti’, and therefore a new class of text type. This paper will examine the writings found on these vessels at Sarga and raise the discussion concerning how they should be referred to and if such a separate classification is necessary.

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Hieroglyphic texts from the temple of Isis at Shanhur

Martina Minas-Nerpel (Swansea)

The temple of Isis at Shanhur, located 20 km north of Luxor, was built and decorated during the Roman period under Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, and Trajanus. Its hieroglyphic inscriptions and offering scenes were partly copied in field seasons during the 1990s, and the first volume, which concerns the temple’s interior, was published in 2003 by H. Willems, et al. (OLA 124). The reliefs of the exterior walls, only partly recorded so far, were checked and copied in a final epigraphic mission to Shanhur from August to October 2010. This paper presents some of the results of the Swansea–Leuven Epigraphic Mission to Shanhur by examining various offering scenes and their texts from the exterior walls, thus analysing the cult topography of a temple located at the border between the Theban and the Coptite nomes.

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Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) of ancient Egyptian documentary evidence

Kathryn Piquette (Oxford & UCL)

Various challenges confront the investigator of ancient documentary evidence, especially where graphical marks and related features of the material surface are faded, worn, or other otherwise difficult to discern (e.g. palimpsest, low relief or impressions, etc.). First-hand study of primary sources is not always possible and data capture using conventional digital photography, tracings, drawings or other imaging methods may result in partial documentation, resulting in additional omissions or errors in subsequent surrogate-based research. Advanced digital technologies are uniquely positioned to overcome many such challenges and present exciting potential for bringing diverse subject matter, methodologies, theoretical approaches and media together. Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), related to Polynomial Texture Mapping (PTM), enables the high resolution and detailed capture of object surfaces and features and is particularly suitable for inscribed material. RTI has been applied successfully to a range of documentary evidence, but has only recently been exploited for the study of Egyptian graphical culture. In this paper I will present some of the results of our University of Southampton and University of Oxford collaborative project, “Reflectance Transformation Imaging Systems for Ancient Documents (RTISAD)”, funded by the AHRC Digital Equipment and Database Enhancement for Impact scheme (DEDEFI). A pilot project, RTISAD is developing a more portable, low-cost, capture system for deployment in both museum and field contexts. As an open access and open source system, the RTI images and software will allow researchers to study documentary and other artefacts remotely in great detail without being restricted by fixed lighting angles. The result will be to ensure that high-quality digital versions of these materials can be consulted by scholars worldwide. RTI stands to contribute in significant ways to the study of ancient Egyptian language and text, whether for data capture, study, annotation, sharing or dissemination. In order to discuss potential applications of RTI within Egyptology, this paper will also be complemented by a demonstration of the camera-dome system.

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Some uses of repetition, particularly in narrative

John Tait (UCL)

It is difficult to attempt to offer comment on how the aspiring author was supposed to set about composing a literary work in ancient Egypt. There are no ancient handbooks to guide us, and speculation as to what was admired in writing, like so many other issues in Egyptian literature, is hampered by limitations in our corpus of evidence. However, repetition is seemingly a significant feature of all human compositions (written or unwritten), whether it is viewed as an artless blemish or as a creative device. In fact, just to use the term ‘repetition’, as opposed to a more neutral word such as ‘recurrence’, brings with it the idea of deliberate stylistic choice. A number of different forms of repetition in Egyptian material can be distinguished, some of which could be suggested to link with strategies for the structuring of narrative, or with the achievement of particular effects. Other aspects may be more open to linguistic approaches. This paper looks at several case studies in Egyptian texts, with a view to identifying some ancient approaches to repetition.

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A legal study of a group of demotic cessions from Pathyris

Siân Thomas (Cambridge)

The British Museum collection includes more than forty demotic papyri from the Gebelein area in Upper Egypt (ancient Pathyris and Crocodilopolis). Most are legal and business texts from private archives, for example, land transfers, leases, acknowledgements of loan and marriage documents. They date to between 205 BC and circa 88 BC, with a concentration of papyri from the turn of the 2nd–1st century BC. This paper looks at the cessions (sẖ.w n wy, ‘documents of being far’) in the collection. The cession document form was versatile and could record a variety of transactions. Most Ptolemaic sẖ.w n wy were drawn up simultaneously with ‘documents for money’ (sẖ.w (n-)ḏb3 ḥḏ) on sales of land; cessions of this type record the seller’s acknowledgement that he has relinquished his claim to the property. The British Museum Gebelein cessions are of a different, relatively rare, type: they record the release of contractual rights and obligations created by earlier contracts. Like most demotic legal texts, the cessions provide limited contextual information. This paper seeks to reconstruct the wider legal transactions reflected in the texts and to explore the use of the cession to record the release of contractual obligations. Beyond the detail of this particular investigation, a picture is drawn of the practical workings of Egyptian law in the Ptolemaic period (including, for instance, the combination of demotic and Greek documents in a single transaction) and of the adaptive character of Egyptian legal thought.

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