The ancient Mediterranean world brought to us by Herodotus, Thucydides and Tacitus is one of politics, war and the power elite of Greece and Rome. There was another ancient world, in which ordinary people made a living, sold land, ran their towns and sued one another. This is the world that the papyri bring to life; this book is about how they do so.
Reading Papyri, Writing Ancient History demonstrates how historians can put together information from scattered and often badly damaged documents to build up a picture of the society, economy and culture of the multicultural world of antiquity. Through discussion of contemporary historical work on the documents, Roger Bagnall scrutinises alternative ways of approaching these sources. He shows how the ancient historian can use the methodologies of anthropology, comparative history and statistics alongside more traditional tools to turn these texts into questions and answers.
Students and teachers of ancient history will find Reading Papyri, Writing Ancient History an indispensable guide to using these ancient texts in their own work.
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Roger S. Bagnall is Professor of Classics and History at Columbia University. His other publications include Egypt in Late Antiquity (1993), and The Demography of Roman Egypt (1994).Review:
As the third volume in the Routledge series, Approaching the Ancient World, that aims at introducing students to problems and methodologies currently embraced by ancient historians, Reading Papyri, Writing Ancient History eminently succeeds. In this study, Bagnall lucidly summarizes the nature of Greek papyrological evidence.
–International Journal of the Classical Tradition
Bagnall does an excellent job of surveying the kinds of work currently being done on papyri and suggesting how to improve on these
–Bryn Mawr Classical Review
Ancient historians, as well as papyrologists, will find this an extremely useful guidebook for formulating their research
–Religious Studies Review
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