Ostraka and the Nile: our annual visit to Aswan

Last week (1-8 march) Amalia Zomeño and I spent a week of work at the warehouse of the Council of Antiquities in Aswan, Egypt, studying the ostraca excavated by the Swiss institute (our annual visit: we have already reported our activity in the pashere). To date, there are 1823 ostraca in almost all possible languages found in Egypt. A high percentage of them are unsurprisingly in Greek, mostly military and administrative documents from the Roman period, although there is a remarkably interesting group of Arabic texts (this year they almost hit the 200), that attest to the small economy of this city in the period around the 9th-10th cent. 


This year we brought with us an IR camera and photographed away as many ostraca we could. Even if it was not a very professional camera, and we are not experienced photographers, we managed to obtain very good results in many cases which will help reading some difficult texts. See the images below:

On the way back I had the fortune of admiring Alexandria from the sky. Absolutely wonderful!

PAThs conference. Coptic Literature in Context. The Contexts of Coptic Literature

It has been a pleasure to participate in the conference organised by Paola Buzi and her fantastic PAThs team . The conference took place in Rome, Sapienza Università di Roma, 25-27 February 2019.

Although you do not need an excuse to open a conversation between scholars in archeology, philology and digital humanities around literary production of late antique Egypt, this time indeed there was one, the launching of the first product of the PAThs project, the Atlas. This new tool maps Coptic literary production geographically, although it includes multiple parameters of search and combines different sets of information: sites where Coptic manuscripts have been found, produced, preserved, where they circulated, episcopal sees, colophons, sites mentioned in texts….

To celebrate this exciting new tool, which will help in advancing our knowledge, not only of Coptic literature, but of the whole context of literary production and readership, Paola Buzi brought an interesting group of scholars to discuss topics that define their project. Just to name some of them: the influence of narratives in parietal art, the use of the papyrus roll for Coptic literature, the material study of inks through spectrography, textual fluidity in the tradition of the apocryphal texts, new manuscripts from Antinoe, Hermoupolis and Elephantine. You can see the programme and abstracts here.

I congratulate Paola and her team!