The Department of Classical Studies has made its first award from the Traianos Gagos Memorial Fund for Papyrology
May 20, 2013
We will support Tom Landvatter, a recent PhD in IPCAA and a student of Traianos, in attending the International Congress of Papyrology in Warsaw this summer. Below is the abstract of Tom's paper:
Archaeological and Papyrological Inquiry at Karanis: Problems and Potentialities
The combined analysis of text and object in context has been a focus in papyrological re-search in the past two decades, presenting the apparent opportunity to link buildings and objects in the archaeological record to named individuals in the papyrological record. This has nowhere more been the case than at Karanis. However, once we consider how papyri entered a specific archaeological context, as well as the often obscure methods of recording used in the Karanis excavation, the difficulties of making such links becomes clear. Focusing on a single insula at Karanis, located in the southeastern part of the excavated area, demonstrates the complexities of dealing with this material. In this paper, I will demonstrate why we must treat objects from this insula as coming from the period of its abandonment, rather than of its occupation. This has im-portant implications for our understanding of the papyri from this insula, in particular those from B224, the so-called “house of the Nilometer.”
The archaeological realities of Karanis make a connection between the text of papyrus to the context of its find difficult if not impossible in most cases. However, the understanding of a papyrus document as an archaeological object is under-theorized, and explicitly considering pa-pyri as archaeological objects offers the potential to understand how a papyrus entered a given context. On a holistic level, archaeological and papyrological data complement each other, and their combination is essential for our understanding of Karanis and other towns, allowing us to conduct social and historical analyses not possible otherwise or elsewhere. Thus, the combina-tion of archaeological and papyrological inquiry is still vital and fruitful, based on an approach which considers both archaeological context on a specific level and Karanis and other sites more holistically.
University of Michigan