Corpus of Inscriptions of Ptolemaic Egypt

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Classics Faculty

Abstract

This project will create a corpus of up-to-date editions of the Greek, bilingual and trilingual inscriptions on stone from Ptolemaic Egypt (323-30 BCE), numbering almost 400 items, based on material collected and annotated by the late Peter Fraser FBA (1918-2007), who was the leading authority of the 20th century in the field of hellenistic epigraphy in Egypt and the wider context. The editions will include introductory material, commentaries, translations and digital images and will be made available both in book form and an on-line version. Fraser collected little material after the mid-1970s and his manuscript therefore needs extensive revision and updating. Furthermore, a significant number of inscriptions published since the mid-1970s need to be added, and editions with translations of the Egyptian sections of bilingual and trilingual texts need to be provided in order to provide a uniquely accurate representation and explanation of the original state, character and meaning of the monumental texts.
From the takeover of Egypt by Ptolemy after Alexander the Great died in 323 BCE, until the deaths of Cleopatra and Antony in 30 BCE, government and administration was conducted almost entirely in Greek, which became the predominant language. Both in the public and private spheres, epigraphic inscriptions on stone were central to Greek culture, commemoration and communication, and the Ptolemies brought this tradition with them into the newly formed hellenistic monarchy. Among hellenistic kingdoms, Egypt is unique, however, in that epigraphy in its indigenous language survived alongside the politically dominant Greek mode of communication.
The project will make available for the first time a full corpus of scholarly editions, which will replace older publications and other partial collections which are organised by specific local region of provenance and therefore do not offer a full conspectus of the Greek epigraphy of the Ptolemaic period. This is important for several reasons. The new corpus will give proper weight to the importance of public and private documentation on stone, which, in Egypt, has tended to be overshadowed by the preponderance of documents on papyrus. It will illustrate the ways in which this mode of public pronouncement and display became important in what was originally a language culture 'alien' to the Greeks, not merely in 'Greek cities' (Alexandria, Ptolemais, Naukratis) but also in indigenous Egyptian towns.
Fraser's work between 1950 and the mid-1970s recognised the importance of this material and provided the basis for understanding and exploiting it. Bringing it to completion will afford a deeper understanding of Ptolemaic Egypt and maximise the achievement of a great scholar.

Planned Impact

The Ptolemaic system was a brilliantly successful and long-lived experiment in multiculturalism and officially sanctioned bilingualism and even trilingualism (Greek, two forms of Egyptian - demotic and hieroglyphic). It lasted three centuries (Egypt succumbed to the Romans later than any of the other dynastic kingdoms which succeeded Alexander the Great, d. 323 BC). It combined a Greek-speaking system of government with conciliation of the indigenous population, mainly through measures involving Egyptian cults and the Egyptian priesthood. Some famous (and many newer and less familiar) inscriptions on stone, notably the Rosetta Stone, attest this delicate process, and it is vital that they be properly edited and translated, provided with up-to-date commentaries, and made accessible to a non-specialist as well as a scholarly readership.
The Egypt of the Ptolemies (and the Ptolemaic overseas empire) can be considered a well-documented case-study with impact on the following communities:
1. Modern governments, organisations and agencies can benefit from better understanding of historical patterns in handling cultural diversity and inter-community tensions especially in bilingual contexts. This is particularly relevant to Egypt in its current political state and will be important for determining how it presents the economically vital pre-Islamic part of its heritage in the new political regime. An emphasis on the Greek and Graeco-Roman aspects of that culture will underpin the Egyptian sense of the past and also reinforce modern initiatives, such as the archaeological work by J.-Y. Empereur and F.Goddio on the harbour at Alexandria and at Herakleion, and the development of the profile of the New Library of Alexandria.
2. It is intended that towards the end of work on this project, there will be outreach events (visits and talks) involving schoolchildren and their teachers. These events, in conjnction with the web resources, will show (i) that Egyptian civilisation continued to flourish for several centuries, in interestingly modified ways, after the 'age of the Pharaohs' as usually understood (in fact the Ptolemaic rulers presented themselves as Pharaohs), and (ii) that Greek inscriptions on stone are a vital and fascinating part of the evidence for this period and its mixed culture. We will explain in terms understandable to non-specialists, how scholars go about retrieving information from such inscriptions.
3. Museum audiences can benefit from improved presentation and contextual material for a number of very important monuments. Millions of people know, for example, of the importance of the Rosetta Stone for the 'decipherment' of the Egyptian language, but relatively few know what it actually says and why it is important for understanding how the Ptolemies managed the relationship between the Greek-speaking governing elites and the indigenous religious institutions of the native Egyptian populace.

Publications

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BOWMAN A. K. (2016) THE "CORPUS OF PTOLEMAIC INSCRIPTIONS FROM EGYPT" PROJECT: UNPUBLISHED TEXTS in Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 200 (2016) 100-108

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HORNBLOWER S. (2016) A HITHERTO UNPUBLISHED PTOLEMAIC METRICAL INSCRIPTION in Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik

 
Description New interpretations and readings of inscriptions from Egypt between 323 - 30 BC. The project will make available a full corpus of scholarly editions, replacing older publications and other partial collections organised by specific region or theme, and will offer for the first time a full picture of the Greek epigraphy of the Ptolemaic period.

Since the beginning of the project the number of Ptolemaic inscriptions has been significantly increased from the 345 originally identified by Peter Fraser. The corpus now totals around 600.
Exploitation Route Our findings can be used by others in their studies of archaeology or culture during the Ptolemaic Period in Egypt. Epigraphic evidence relating to the wider Ptolemaic empire overseas forms a substantial but distinct part of the Fraser archive of Ptolemaic inscriptions. It is hoped that this material will be the subject of a second project in the future.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL http://cpi.csad.ox.ac.uk
 
Description We have published a booklet "The Philae Obelisk: Tales from Egypt, Dorset and Outer Space" aimed at academics and non-academics alike.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Description Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship
Amount £21,278 (GBP)
Funding ID 5360 
Organisation The Leverhulme Trust 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2016 
End 04/2017
 
Title Reflectance Transformation Imaging 
Description Three designs have been developed for dome RTI capture systems in which objects can be photographed under controlled raked lighting; the photographs are processed using the Texture Map fitting algorithm developed by Tom Malzbender at Hewlett Packard Labs to create an image of the object that can be virtually lit in a computer viewer application. The large dome is 1m in diameter and fitted with 76 LED lights; a second 'mini' dome is 25cm in diameter and fitted with 56 LEDs. Both of these domeswill be based at the CSAD and Oriental Institute in Oxford and are available for use in research and preservation of ancient documents. The Third dome is a custom-designed version with a concentration of light sources nearer the horizon, specifically for incised material such as inscriptions. The construction of this dome is nearing completion at the University of Southampton and will be based at the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents. 
Type Of Material Technology assay or reagent 
Year Produced 2010 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Reflective Transformation Imaging (RTI) is a generalised technique for capturing the reflectance characteristics for any surface. Polynomial Texture Mapping (PTM) is the best-known specific implementation of RTI. PTM images are generated from multiple digital photographs of a subject taken from a fixed camera position, from which a complete range of lighting and reflectance information can be mathematically synthesized. The resulting synthesized files can be used both to change lighting direction across the image in a manner similar to interaction with the physical object, and to perform enhancements to make surface detail more visible. 
 
Title Reflectance transformation imaging of Ptolemaic inscriptions in Egypt 
Description RTI is a computational photographic method that captures a subject's surface shape and colour and enables the interactive re-lighting of the subject from any direction. RTI also permits the mathematical enhancement of the subject's surface shape and colour attributes. The enhancement functions of RTI reveal surface information that is not visible to the naked eye. As well as sophisticated static equipment used in museums and libraries etc., RTI can be carried out in the field using simple measuring and reflecting tools, (billiard balls, a scale and colour chart and a jig that facilitates positioning of camera at a constant distance from the surface to be photographed. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Using portable RTI equipment in Egypt, our researcher Kyriakos, assisted by Athanasios Koutoupas, could capture enhanced images of inscriptions previously recorded by simple photography. Updated images of such material evidence comprise a key aspect of the CPI project not only in terms of the 'freshness' of the corpus, but also in terms of establishing the current state of Ptolemaic inscribed monuments, particularly those still in situ, since major alterations have taken place at several sites. 
 
Title Corpus of Ptolemaic Inscriptions 
Description On-line database containing texts with images and commentaries of all Greek and bilingual stone inscriptions form Ptolemaic Egypt (332-30 BC) 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Still in early stage of compilation, so impact not yet applicable. 
 
Description FRANCOIS KAYSER, UNIVERSITÉ SAVOIE MONT BLANC, ACCESS TO THE BERNAND PHOTOGRAPHIC ARCHIVE 
Organisation University of Savoy
Country France 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution SEVERAL UNPUBLISHED INSCRIPTIONS WERE DISCOVERED IN THE BERNAND ARCHIVE OF PHOTOGRAPHS OF PTOLEMAIC INSCRIPTIONS, MADE AVAILABLE TO US BY FRANCIS KAYSER. SEVEN OF THESE TEXTS WERE SUBSEQUENTLY PUBLISHED IN ZPE VOLUME 200, A METRICAL INSCRIPTION (SIMON HORNNBLOWER) AND SIX OTHER SHORT INSCRIPTIONS (ALAN BOWMAN, CHARLES CROWTHER AND KYRIAKOS SAVVOPOULOS).
Collaborator Contribution FRANCOIS KAYSER FACILITATED ACCESS TO THE BERNARD ARCHIVE OF PHOTOGRAPHS OF PTOLEMAIC INSCRIPTIONS, WHICH INCLUDED SOME HITHERTO UNPUBLISHED MATERIAL.
Impact BERNAND'S PHOTOGRAPHS OF ALREADY KNOWN PTOLEMAIC TEXTS, ALONG WITH THE UNPUBLISHED MATERIAL WILL FORM PART OF THE CORPUS VOLUME AND WEBSITE WHEN COMPLETED.
Start Year 2016
 
Description REFLECTANCE TRANSFORMATION IMAGING OF PTOLEMAIC INSCRIPTIONS IN THE BRITISH MUSEUM COLLECTIONS 
Organisation British Museum
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution VISITS HAVE BEEN MADE BY CPI PROJECT STAFF TO THE BRITISH MUSEUM TO CAPTURE HIGH RESOLUTION IMAGES OF PTOLEMAIC INSCRIPTIONS BY MEANS OF REFLECTANCE TRANSFORMATION IMAGING TECHNIQUES (RTI)
Collaborator Contribution MAKING AVAILABLE PTOLEMAIC INSCRIPTIONS IN THE MUSEUM'S COLLECTIONS, BOTH THOSE ON DISPLAY AND IN STORE.
Impact CAPTURING IMAGES BY MEANS OF RTI TECHNIQUES ALLOWS IMPROVED READINGS OF PTOLEMAIC TEXTS, ENABLING MORE ACCURATE EDITIONS FOR INCLUSION IN THE CORPUS
Start Year 2014
 
Description Article in Archaeology.org on RTI imaging of Philae obelisk at Kingston Lacy 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Awareness raised of RTI technology being developed and used by the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.archaeology.org/news/2658-141027-england-philae-obelisk
 
Description Article in Bournemouth Echo on RTI imaging of Philae obelisk at Kingston Lacy 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Article raised awareness of activities of the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents

Awareness raised in new technology being developed and used by the CSAD
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/11552231.VIDEO__The_groundbreaking_scientific_missions_linked_...
 
Description Article in Guardian Newspaper and online on RTI imaging of Philae obelisk as background to ESA comet landing mission 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Article raised awareness of new technology being developed and used at the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents

Further articles appeared after exposure in the Guardian
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/oct/23/rosetta-mission-philae-comet-universe
 
Description Article on RTI imaging of Philae Obelisk at Kingston Lacy, Dorset, in National Trust ABC bulletin - Winter 2014-15 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Article led to wider knowledge of activities of Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents at Oxford

Following article, plans were started to produce a booklet on the Philae obelisk, for the National Trust
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Article on RTI imaging of Philae Obelisk in Oxford University News and Events 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Wider awareness of the Reflectance Transformation Imaging processes, and the Corpus of Ptolemaic Inscriptions project

Increased interest in RTI techniques
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2014-11-24-forget-comet-lander---oxford-team-shed-light-philae-obelisk
 
Description BBC Radio Solent Facebook entry on RTI imaging of Kingston Lacy obelisk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Facebook post raised awareness of activities of Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents

Raised awareness of CSAD activities
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL https://m2.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=640825049370927&id=326856317434470&refid=17&ref=stream
 
Description BBC extended news report on RTI imaging of Kingston Lacy obelisk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Report raised awareness of activities of the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents at Oxford

Further information requested after broadcast of BBC news report
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-29734975
 
Description BBC news report on RTI imaging of Kingston Lacy obelisk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact BBC news report raised awareness of activities of the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents

Interest of others was sparked by BBC news report
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-29734981
 
Description El Arabiya news article on correlation between ESA comet landing mission and CSAD imaging of Philae obelisk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Supporters
Results and Impact Raised awareness of activities of Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents in Arab speaking countries

International awareness raised of CSAD activities
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://english.alarabiya.net/en/variety/2014/10/27/Egypt-inspired-probe-explores-our-galaxy-s-secret...
 
Description Greek and Bilingual Inscriptions of Ptolemaic Egypt. A Colloquium 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The colloquium presented and discussed material selected from the 600 monumental inscriptions which form the subject-matter for the research project 'Corpus of Ptolemaic Inscriptions' at the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents in the Faculty of Classics, University of Oxford, and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Its completion in the form of a book and an on-line collection will realise an ambition first conceived and initiated in 1955 by the late Peter Fraser. Topics covered included the work of Peter Fraser on the epigraphy of Ptolemaic Egypt, the content of the Corpus, the presentation of the bilingual and the metrical inscriptions, palaeography and imaging technology, as well as social and cultural issues relevant to the content of the inscriptions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Imaging an Obelisk 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact High quality digital images were made of an Egyptian obelisk at Kingston Lacey (Dorset), made to mark the landing of a robotic craft named Philae on a comet in outer space in November 2014.

Significant press interest and coverage.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-29734975
 
Description Online article on Clapway.com about interest surrounding the Philae obelisk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Article raised awareness of correlation between CSAD activities surrounding the Kingston Lacy obelisk and the European Space Agency comet landing

Further information requested by others after
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://clapway.com/philaes-mission-unravel-mystery-life/
 
Description Online article on Kingston Lacy Obelisk and European Space Agency comet landing 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Article sparked interest in correlation of CPI / RTI work with Space exploration

Further similar articles appeared on line after this report.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.blackmorevale.co.uk/PHOTOS-UK-Space-Agency-Kingston-Lacy-come-ahead/story-23349344-detail...
 
Description Oxford University Classics Faculty Newsletter article on CSAD imaging campaign on the Kingston Lacy obelisk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Awareness raised of CPI and RTI projects at the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents

Increased interest in the activities of the CSAD
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.classics.ox.ac.uk/tl_files/Downloads/Newsletter2014.pdf
 
Description Poster displayed at the 2016 Papyrology Congress in Barcelona 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact At the 2016 Papyrology Congress in Barcelona the project displayed a poster designed to inform members of the papyrological and epigraphical community of the scope and purpose of the Corpus of Ptolemaic Inscriptions project
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://papyrologia.upf.edu
 
Description Times Higher Education article on RTI imaging of the obelisk at Kingston Lacy 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Awareness raised of activities of the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents at Oxford

Increased interest in activities of the CSAD
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/news/comet-mission-inspires-classics-research/2016983.article
 
Description i24News article on correlation between imaging work of the CSAD with ESA comet landing 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Awareness raised of technology being developed and used by the CSAD on the Philae obelisk at Kingston Lacy

Interest raised in activities of the CSAD
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.i24news.tv/en/news/technology/48920-141028-egyptian-space-craft-set-to-unlock-mysteries-o...