75651 - History and Culture in Papyri (1) (LM)

Academic Year 2023/2024

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course students can use papyri of Greek, Roman and Byzantine period for historical research in an accomplished and correct way. They can write an updated commentary to texts based on updated bibliography and citing parallels of the same historical value with precise knowledge of the relations between the Egyptian evidences and the other sources of Ancient history. They are familiar with the digital research on papyri and have a critical understanding of the relationship between Greek and Roman civilization and other contemporary cultures of Egypt and the Near East.

Course contents

After a short introduction into general aspects of the papyrological discipline, its main contents and methods (addressed particularly to students who haven’t yet participated in a papyrological course before), the focus will be set on culture and socio-economic and administrative organization of Greco-Roman and Byzantine Egypt, from the the conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great onwards until the end of the byzantine domination by the Arabs.

The most relevant events of each period will be briefly sketched, and fundamental aspects of culture, society, economy and administration will be illustrated by direct reading of the papyrological sources.


Students are advised, especially when they haven’t yet got experience with the discipline of Papyrology, to make use of  the following handbook as a preliminary tool: 

R. S. Bagnall (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Papyrology, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2009.

Students must read one of the following volumes:

R. S. Bagnall, Reading Papyri, Writing Ancient History, second edition, Routledge, London - New York 2020.

P. Parsons, La scoperta di Ossirinco. La vita quotidiana in Egitto al tempo dei Romani, Carocci editore, Firenze 2014.

All the texts read and discussed during the course will be available on the IOL platform.

Students who are not able to attend the lessons have to reach an agreement with the professor about an alternative program, and have to prepare besides the mentioned literature and the material uploaded by the professor K. Vandorpe (ed.), A Companion to Greco-Roman and Late Antique Egypt, Wiley-Blackwell 2019, capp. 3; 8; 10; 11; 13; 16; 17; 19; 21; 26; 31; 36 e 37.

Teaching methods

Lessons are taught ex-cathedra as well as in form of seminarial teaching. Students are welcome to take active part in the lessons.

Assessment methods

The exam is oral.Intermediate tests will serve as a check of the learning outcome. The results can be considered for the final score.

The exam is passed if pupils answer correctly and in a proper way, reading, translating and commenting selected texts and show knowledge the main features of the discipline. Outstanding knowledge of both the handbook and the texts is evaluated at the maximum; good knowledge and ability in the analysis of the texts, but more mnemonic can earn a good evaluation; a knowledge with some mistakes and misunderstandings in the texts are sufficient to pass, serious lacunae in the knowledge of the handbook and no skills in the reading and interpretations of the texts do not allow to pass.

There are at least six possibilities per year to give the exam; the dates are published twice, normally in November for the first four, and March-April for the last two. All students must be listed on Almaesami and no students are allowed to give exams out of the public lists.

All students must be present at the call of the examination. No students are allowed to give exams out of the public lists.

Please check in advance if your administrative position is regular, otherwise you will not be admitted to the exam. Students who attend at least 75% of the lessons are considered to be attending.

Teaching tools

The lessons will be held with Powerpoint presentations. Also original papyri of the Bologna collections will be studied. All texts commented on during the course will be available in Virtuale. 

Office hours

See the website of Fabian Lothar Walter Reiter


Quality education

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.