Crossing Boundaries: Understanding Complex Scribal Practices Based on the Ramesside Hieratic Papyri from the Museo Egizio
Antonio Loprieno (Basel), Christian Greco (Turin), & Stéphane Polis (Liège)
With Kathrin Gabler (Basel), Matthias Müller (Basel), Nathalie Sojic (Liège), Susanne Töpfer (Turin) & Stephan Unter (Basel)
Many aspects of ancient Egyptian scribal culture are still poorly understood. Previous research has focused mostly on the content of ancient Egyptian texts with the goal of reconstructing literary compositions, explaining historical events, or describing administrative and judicial customs. In this presentation, we introduce a large-scale joint project between the University of Basel, the University of Liège, and the Museo Egizio (Turin). This project deals with the Ramesside hieratic papyri in the Turin collection, which stem mostly from Deir el-Medina (c. 1300–1000 BCE).
The project offers a contextualised approach to this written material. Crossing the epistemological and methodological boundaries between traditional disciplines, it sets out to understand the life of a particular category of complex documents: the so-called ‘heterogeneous’ papyri. These are papyri that bear different texts belonging to different genres; for instance, they include accounts, poems, hymns, and letters. These documents are of primary importance for studying the performance and competence of ancient scribes.
The main goals of this research project are (1) to document the fragments of papyri in the Turin collection; (2) to digitally reconstruct the original documents; (3) to study the variety of texts attested on each papyrus, assess the numbers of scribes (hands) behind the texts, and offer both individual scenarios for, and generalisations about, the history of these documents; (4) to enrich the results of the project with data from other ancient Egyptian archives from Deir el-Medina; and (5) to broaden our perspective on Deir el-Medina with quantitative and qualitative comparisons of the scribal data from the village with data from other places and time periods in ancient Egypt.
In this presentation, we intend to provide an overview of the project and to show, on the basis of selected case studies, how it will contribute to a better understanding of the forms and function of hieratic writing during the New Kingdom, as well as the agents behind these writings.