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Grant number: RZ-20418-99

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University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1382)
Ludwig Koenen (Project Director: September 1998 to present)

Publication of the Petra Papyrus Scrolls

An edition and translation of a sixth-century archive of carbonized papyrus rolls excavated at Petra, Jordan.

The project requests funding for the continuation of a 1997/1999 project to decipher, edit, translate, and explain carbonized papyri assigned by the American Center of Oriental Research to an American team of papyrologists (the other half has been assigned to a Finnish team). The ca. 152 rolls of papyri were found in 1993 during ACOR's excavation of a church in Petra, Jordan. They constitute one or more family archives written in Greek, but toponyms and names of houses and apartments are pre-Islamic Arabic in Greek letters. Some of these Arabic names for places close to Petra are still in use and attest to continuous settlement from before the 6th century to the present. Moreover, the archives, spanning most of the 6th century AD (+-528-582/3, perhaps 592), provide Petra and its hinterland with a history that modern scholarship denied it because, according to this theory, the city was destroyed by an earthquake in 551. The papyri attest a strong agricultural economy controlled by landlords who also held influential posts in city and church, a continued presence of the imperial financial administration and the Byzantine military, and the long process of the Roman colonate within the continuity of the local Semitic culture. The wealth of new and unique socio-economic facts encourages comparative consideration of Egypt and, more broadly, the eastern Byzantine empire before the Persian War and the Islamic Conquest.

Project fields:
Classical History; Classical Languages; Classics

Collaborative Research

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$134,503 (approved)
$134,503 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/1/1999 – 4/30/2002