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Greek Papyrology: An Introduction (CLAM260)

StaffDr Chiara Meccariello -
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level7
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module aims to:

  • Introduce you to the field of papyrology, its methodologies and tools, potential and limitations, and ethical issues.
  • Develop your skills for deciphering and contextualising papyri, and for using them in broader literary and historical studies.
  • Explore the ways in which papyri allow us to understand facets of ancient culture and society that are difficult to glean through other types of sources.
  • Develop your understanding of multiculturalism and diversity in the ancient world by analysing and contextualising the written products of individuals of different gender, ethnicity and social status living in Graeco-Egyptian towns.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate knowledge of different types of texts on papyrus and their significance
  • 2. Demonstrate a nuanced understanding of the provenance of papyri, the historical trajectory of the discipline and the related ethical implications
  • 3. Analyse papyri as both artefacts and carriers of texts, and identify aspects of papyri that allow us to understand their contexts of production and use
  • 4. Demonstrate understanding of the potential and limitations of reconstructing fragmentary texts

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the variety of sources we have for reconstructing antiquity and of the existence of specialist skills and methodologies for each type of source
  • 6. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the importance of a holistic approach to antiquity in order to gain a more diverse view of ancient societies

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. Perform both detail-oriented and broader in-context analysis
  • 8. Conduct independent research, organising findings in a coherent argument and presenting results clearly and effectively
  • 9. Produce both individual and collaborative work within a specific timeframe
  • 10. Demonstrate understanding of how uncertain and/or incomplete information can and cannot be used to produce knowledge

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Definition and scope of Papyrology
  • History and ethics of the discipline
  • Deciphering and transcribing papyri: methodologies, tools, new technologies
  • Papyri in context: reading and writing in the ancient world
  • Literary and sub-literary papyri: new texts, non-canonical texts, the contribution of papyri to textual criticism
  • Documentary papyri as a window on ancient societies

Introductory lectures will be followed by practical work on individual papyri, with student-led oral presentations and the collaborative creation of a blog presenting a selection of papyri for school students and the general public.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching activities15Intensive seminar and reading group activity
Guided Independent Study135Students working independently and in groups preparing for seminars and essays

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Oral presentation of a papyrus10-minute presentation followed by discussion1-10Oral feedback in class from lecturer and peers

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Blog post presenting a source or a set of sources20500-700 words1-10Mark, written and oral comments
Essay804000 words1-10Mark, written and oral comments

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Blog post presenting a source or a set of sources (500-700 words)Blog post presenting a source or a set of sources (500-700 words)1-10Referral/Deferral period
Essay (4000 words)Essay (4000 words)1-10Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral will occur if an overall mark of less than 50% is achieved. In this case, a supplementary mini essay will be assigned where appropriate. The mark for this will be taken into consideration of the final overall grade.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • R. S. Bagnall (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Papyrology, Oxford/New York 2009.
  • R. S. Bagnall, Reading Papyri, Writing Ancient History(second edition), London 2019.
  • J. Rowlandson, Women and society in Greek and Roman Egypt: A Sourcebook, Cambridge 1998.
  • E. G. Turner, Greek Manuscripts of the Ancient World (second edition revised and enlarged by P. J. Parsons), London 1987.
  • K. Vandorpe, A Companion to Greco-Roman and Late Antique Egypt, Hoboken 2019.

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Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

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Key words search

Greece, Rome, Egypt, Papyrology