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Crossing Boundaries. Understanding complex scribal practices based on the Ramesside hieratic papyri from the Museo Egizio

Conference

English

ID: <2268/242147>

Abstract

Many aspects of ancient Egyptian scribal culture are still poorly understood: previous research mostly focused on the content of the texts when striving to reconstruct literary compositions, to explain historical events, or to describe 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) dealing with the Ramesside hieratic papyri of the Turin collection, which stem mostly from Deir el-Medina (c. 1300–1000 BCE). The project aims at a contextualised approach of 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, namely the papyri that bear several texts belonging to various genres (such as, for instance, accounts, poems, hymns and letters). These documents are of primary importance for the study of the competence and performance of ancient scribes at work. The main goals of this research project are (1) to document the fragments of papyri in the Turin collection; (2) to reconstruct the original documents digitally; (3) to study the variety of texts attested on each papyrus, to assess the numbers of scribes (hands), and ultimately to suggest individual scenarios and generalisations concerning the history of these documents; (4) to enrich the results with data coming from other ancient Egyptian archives from Deir el-Medina; and (5) to broaden the perspective by comparing, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the data from Deir el-Medina with complex scribal practices of other periods and places in ancient Egypt. We intend to provide an overview of the project and to show, based on selected case studies, how it can contribute to a better understanding of the agents, forms and function of hieratic writing during the New Kingdom. Crossing Boundaries

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