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!




ConText Greek, Coptic and Arabic Sources from Aswan, Elephantine, Dayr Anba Hadra and Qasr Ibrim

I want to share my enthusiasm after participating in the workshop organized by Stefanie Schmidt, at the University of Basel the past 13-15 December: ConText gathered some twenty scholars in archeology, epigraphy, papyrology and different textual fields to discuss and find a common language in dealing with materials coming from Aswan, Elephantine and the area of the first cataract. Here is the program.  
Texts in ostraca, papyri, dipinti and wall inscriptions were discussed together with archeology and artifact studies. This was an enriching and thought provoking conversation. I want to thank Stefanie for such a wonderful initiative, which will no doubt lead to further collaborative work and more interesting meetings.

Alba de Frutos: Premio Fundación Pastor de Estudios Clásicos

I am proud to announce that my student, now colleague, Alba de Frutos García, who defended her dissertation “The funerary workers in Ptolemaic Egypt”, just received the Prize to doctoral dissertations from the Fundación Pastor de Estudios Clásicos 2017/2018.

In the photograph below, the board of examiners, including my dear colleagues Alberto Nodar, Emilio Crespo, José Domíngo Rodríguez, María Jesús Albarrán and Raquel Martín.

I toast for Alba, and wish her a wonderful papyrological future!


Proceedings of the 28th International Congress of Papyrology

November 7-14th Alberto Nodar joined me in Chicago to work on the proofs of the proceedings of the 28th papyrological congress. We have six amazing co-editors : María Jesús Albarrán, Raquel Martín, Irene Pajón, José Domíngo Rodríguez, Marco Antonio Santamaría and Amalia Zomeño. The volume will contain 81 papers ranging from Restoration to Literary ostraca, including some interesting editions.

We want the volume to be ready for the 29th Papyrological congress, which will take place in Lecce in the summer of 2019. It will be available open access on the digital repository of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, and also on paper on demand.