Egypt, Ptolemaic to Roman periods, ca. 332 to 30 BCE. Four papyri fragments, all with Greek writing on them. After Alexander the Great conquered Egypt in 332 BCE, he introduced the Greek language, which was used as the language of official documents until after 600 CE. These fragments could be from tax rolls or receipts, census records, private records of sales, leases, or loans, marriage contracts, or contracts of apprenticeship. The neat, orderly handwriting on each of these further emphasizes that they are probably from official documents. All four are framed together. Longest fragment is: 4" L (10.2 cm); size of frame: 7" W x 5" H (17.8 cm x 12.7 cm)
For many centuries, papyrus was the most important writing material in the Classical and Mediterranean world, replacing clay tablets. The reeds used to make it grow mainly in Egypt, and the Greco-Roman world had to import them. They were manufactured in long rolls that could measure 7-15 inches in height and be up to 100 feet long. In these examples, you can see the crisscrossing horizontal and vertical fibers that make up the papyri.
Provenance: private Ritterbush collection
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