6 February 2023 The Future is the Product of the Past

Ancient Latin texts written on papyrus reveal new information about the Roman world

Researchers funded by the European Union have deciphered ancient Latin texts written on papyrus. This work could reveal a lot about Roman society and education, as well as how Latin’s influence spread.

Although the number of Latin texts found on papyrus dating from the first century BCE to the eighth century CE has grown as a result of new archaeological discoveries, these texts are frequently not given the attention they require. Therefore, they represent a vast untapped source of information and insight into the development of ancient Roman literature, language, history, and society.

Latin texts on papyrus in particular could provide information about the period’s literary and linguistic emigration. This might also reveal more about the educational environment, and paint a clearer picture of the Roman economy and society.

New approach to Latin texts

The EU-funded PLATINUM project, which was funded by the European Research Council, was launched to achieve just this. It began with a preliminary census of existing Latin texts on papyrus, in order to assemble and update collections.

Herculaneum papyrus part. Photo: Public Domain
Herculaneum papyrus part. Photo: Public Domain

“A key innovation was the multidisciplinary way we worked on these texts, bringing them under the spotlights of Latinists, linguists, historians – of Classicists, in general,” explains PLATINUM project coordinator Maria Chiara Scappaticcio from the University of Naples Federico II in Italy.

This work was pulled together to produce the Corpus of Latin Texts on Papyrus, six volumes of which will shortly be published by Cambridge University Press. “This is the major output of the project,” adds Scappaticcio.

“This work collects all the texts of interest, and offers scholars a reference source and tool. Its importance is clear when one compares what we knew about Latin papyri before PLATINUM, and what we know today.”

Groundbreaking linguistic findings

Several interesting findings were made in the course of the project. These include the startling discovery of Seneca the Elder’s Histories. “None of us could have imagined that such an important work would be found in one of the charred papyri from Herculaneum,” says Scappaticcio. “A new chapter in Latin literature has been rewritten thanks to PLATINUM.”

Part of Herculaneum Papyrus 1005. Photo: Public Domain

In addition, many previously unknown texts are now circulating among scholars as a result of the project’s work. The team has helped to forge new partnerships and exchanges between academic and cultural institutions.

“We also discovered the only known Latino-Arabic papyrus,” remarks Scappaticcio. “In this text, the Arabic language has been transliterated in Latin script. This text is unique and provides evidence of interactions between Latin language and culture, and Arabic language and culture in the early medieval Mediterranean.”

Cultural interactions uncovered

The PLATINUM project has helped to shine new light on the spread of Latin, especially in the provinces of the Late Antique Roman Empire.

Careful examination of the actual books, tools and materials that were circulating at the time has provided insights into, for example, how Latin was taught as a foreign language.

“We know now that Latin literature was circulating in the Eastern Roman Empire, and how this literature might have shaped knowledge,” notes Scappaticcio. “One of the main reasons for learning Latin, for example, was the necessity of familiarising oneself with Roman law.”

Scappaticcio believes that this research will benefit not only ancient historians and classical philologists, literates and linguists, but also cultural historians. “The work has opened the door to better understanding cultural interactions at the time,” she says.

“The work of PLATINUM touches on Roman Orientalism, as an aspect of multiculturalism in Antiquity and Late Antiquity.”

Doi: 10.3030/636983

CORDİS

Cover Photo: Carbonized paper, found with other images in an 1858 published book by Giacomo Castrucci.

Banner
Related Post

Beheaded croc reveals ancient family secrets

10 March 2022

10 March 2022

A missing link in crocodilian evolution and a tragic tale of human-driven extinction. The partially fossilized remains of a giant...

Unexpected Results Of Ancient DNA Study: Analysis sheds light on the early peopling of South America

3 November 2022

3 November 2022

Around 60,000 years ago, modern humans left Africa and quickly spread across six continents. Researchers can trace this epic migration...

Research Team Identifies Oldest Bone Spear Point In The Americas

3 February 2023

3 February 2023

A team of researchers has identified the Manis bone projectile point as the oldest weapon made of bone ever found...

A 3200-year-old trepanned skull discovered in eastern Turkey’s Van province

12 November 2022

12 November 2022

A 3200-year-old trepanned skull was discovered in eastern Turkey’s Van province. In the prehistoric era, Anatolia served as a transitional...

Torrential Rain Reveal 2500-Year-old Small Bull Statue

19 March 2021

19 March 2021

After heavy rains near the ancient Olympia site, a bronze bull statue of a bull believed to be at least...

A Unique 2000-Year-Old Oil Lamp Found in Israel

5 May 2021

5 May 2021

Archaeologists have discovered a rare 2,000-year-old oil lamp in David, Jerusalem. Archaeologists have discovered a rare oil lamp, shaped like...

An opulent 2,000-year-old ‘city hall’ has been discovered near the Western Wall in Israel

8 July 2021

8 July 2021

An important 2,000-year-old public building has been unearthed near the wailing wall in Israel. Archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority...

Ancient Christian Settlement Discovered in Egypt

14 March 2021

14 March 2021

The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities said on Saturday that a French-Norwegian archaeological team had discovered a new ancient Christian settlement...

This summer, a 2,000-year-old “thermopolium” fast-food restaurant in Pompeii will reopen to the public

8 August 2021

8 August 2021

Archaeologists excavated a 2000-year-old fast food and drink counter “termopolium” on the streets of the ancient Roman city of Pompeii...

New fibula types discovered at prehistoric Kopilo graves in Bosnia

26 August 2022

26 August 2022

An archaeological dig at Kopilo, a hill settlement founded around 1300 BC about 70 miles west of Sarajevo, has discovered...

Thor’s hammer amulet discovered in Sweden

23 October 2022

23 October 2022

Archaeologists have unearthed the Thor’s Hammer amulet, which they call “one of its kind” in Ysby in southwestern Sweden’s Halland...

The easternmost Roman aqueduct in Armenia was discovered

19 November 2021

19 November 2021

Archaeologists from the University of Münster and the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia have discovered remains...

In Ryazan, the first birch bark letters were discovered

13 September 2021

13 September 2021

The first birch bark letters were found at the Vvedensky excavation site in the Kremlin in Pereyaslavl Ryazan (modern Ryazan)....

The first settlement of the Cimmerians in Anatolia may be Büklükale

7 June 2022

7 June 2022

Archaeologists estimated that the first settlement in Anatolia of the Cimmerians, who left Southern Ukraine before Christ (about 8th century...

30 Graves Found in the Basilica-Planned Ancient City

4 April 2021

4 April 2021

Kibyra ancient city is situated south of Turkey, located in the town Gölhisar in the southwestern part of Burdur Province,...

Comments
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *