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Hellenistic EgyptMonarchy, Society, Economy, Culture$
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Roger Bagnall and Jean Bingen

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780748615780

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748615780.001.0001

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Normality and Distinctiveness in the Epigraphy of Greek and Roman Egypt

Normality and Distinctiveness in the Epigraphy of Greek and Roman Egypt

(p.256) Chapter 19 Normality and Distinctiveness in the Epigraphy of Greek and Roman Egypt
Hellenistic Egypt

Jean Bingen

Edinburgh University Press

Although most of the evidence for the history of Ptolemaic Egypt comes from texts on papyrus, Egypt has also produced a large number of inscriptions on stone, the type of document that makes up most of the surviving evidence in other parts of the ancient Greek world. This chapter examines the nature of this epigraphical evidence from Egypt and asks what contribution it makes. There the Greek inscriptions co-exist with a native epigraphical tradition of an entirely different sort, the hieroglyphic texts written on temple walls. There are also inscriptions in Demotic, the late cursive form of Egyptian, which connect more readily with the Greek documents. Some types of Greek inscriptions in Egypt are distinctive, such as the proskynema dedications with which visitors to temples left a permanent mark of their presence in words before the god.The trilingual decrees of synods of Egyptian priests (most famously the Rosetta Stone) are also without close parallel. And the asylum decrees of the late Ptolemaic period concerning temples raise major issues about the relative power of the king and the temples.

Keywords:   Rosetta stone, epigraphy, hieroglyphs, Demotic, temples

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