Back to overview

The architecture of Greek documentary papyri

English title The architecture of Greek documentary papyri
Applicant Schubert Paul
Number 182205
Funding scheme Project funding
Research institution Département des Sciences de l'Antiquité Faculté des Lettres Université de Genève
Institution of higher education University of Geneva - GE
Main discipline Ancient history and Classical studies
Start/End 01.01.2019 - 30.06.2023
Approved amount 942'021.00
Show all

Keywords (5)

digital humanities; Egypt; papyrus; Ancient Greek; typology

Lay Summary (French)

Comment un scribe professionnel préparait-il un document dans le contexte de l'Égypte gréco-romaine?
Lay summary
Nous ne disposons pour l'instant d'aucune couverture globale de la typologie des papyrus grecs de nature documentaire qui nous viennent d'Égypte gréco-romaine. Pour les plus de 60'000 textes déjà publiés (env. 300 av. J.-C. - 700 ap. J.-C.)., nous possédons une connaissance assez détaillée des différents formats; mais nous ne comprenons pas entièrement comment s'articulent les rapports entre les divers types de document car nous n'avons pas une vue d'ensemble suffisamment claire.
Le but de ce projet sera de développer un instrument digital qui s'appuiera sur des bases de données de textes déjà accessibles, et de l'étendre pour couvrir la typologie de ces documents, c'est-à-dire leur mise en page ou leur architecture. Autrement dit: comment un scribe professionnel préparait-il un document dans le contexte de l'Égypte gréco-romaine?
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 28.09.2018

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
174419 Dscribe (preliminary phase) 01.02.2018 Research semester


Typology is to documents what the theory of architecture is to buildings. Presently, there is no comprehensive coverage of the typology of Greek documentary papyri from Graeco-Roman Egypt. Of the more than 60’000 texts available, written between the third century BC and the seventh century AD, we have acquired some extensive knowledge of the particular form of many kinds of documents; but our understanding of how they relate one to another is still sketchy because we lack a proper overview of the material.Instead of producing a bulky monograph on this topic, it seems more appropriate to develop a digital instrument that would rely on the pre-existing database of texts, and to expand it so as to cover the typology of those documents, i.e. their layout or architecture. Not all documents should be taken into account, but only those which offer the clearest profile for the proposed purpose. In short: how did a trained scribe prepare any specific document within the context of Graeco-Roman Egypt?This new digital instrument belongs to the expanding domain of the Digital Humanities. It will constitute the basis from which to push further research in two directions: a) sketching an overall typology of Greek documentary papyri; b) studying some specific topics pertaining to this general question.Among the specific topics, one deserves a comprehensive and fresh coverage: the form of the so-called hypomnema (in today’s terminology: memo). This type of document is used both in the Ptolemaic and Roman periods, and appears in various contexts. The architecture of this particular document, as well as its complex relationship with other forms of document, should be examined on a new footing.