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Cerny J. Paper and Books in Ancient Egypt

Cerny J. Paper and Books in Ancient Egypt

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Published by Mikhail Chegodaev

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Published by: Mikhail Chegodaev on Jul 13, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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03/25/2014

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J.
Cerny
PAPERAND
BOOKSIN
ANCIENTEGYPT
 
PAPER
AND
BOOKSINANCIENTEGYPT*
1\.
EGYPTOLOGI'iT
SHaULl>
ANDALSODOESINQUIRE
IfandhowancientEgyptcontributedtomodemcivihza-ttonINothmgneedbesaidabouttherecognizedfactthatthismodem
civrlrzanon
IS
adirectoutcomeandheirofthecrviliza-nonoftheGreeksThedegree,however,oftheGreek,andthereforemdircctlyourownindebtednesstotheancientOnentalcrvilrzanonsISlessclear,butthatIt
IS
considerablebecomesmoreandmoreapparentwiththeprogressofthestudyoftheancientMIddleEast.AsfarasEgypt
IS
concerned,theGreeksfranklyandreadily,almosttooreadily,confessedtheirdebttothecrvihzanonoftheNilevalley,even
III
respects
in
wluchsuchanobhgattonISnotapparenttousandwhere,consequently,wearenotpreparedtoacceptItWithoutquestIOnOften,mfact,afteravainsearchfordefirnteproofs,wecanonlyhopethattheproudGreeksknewwhattheyweretalkingaboutThereIS,however,oneEgyptianinventionwhichtheGreekstookoververyearly,butofwhich,althoughtheyneverdeniedtheirindebtedness.theyhardlyeverrealizedthefullbeanngonthedevelopmentoftheirthoughtandspiritualhfeTIllSEgyptianinventionwaspaper,notourlinen-paperwluchcamefromCluna
Via
Baghdadmtheeighthcenturyofourera,buttheEgyptIanpapyrus
2
TIllSandtheproductionofbooksmadethereofweretakenoverbytheGreeksprobablyintheSIxthcentury
Be,
afterthatdateGreekhteraturewastransmittedandpreservedonpapyrusuntilthelatterwassupersededbyparchment,aprocess
winch
seemstohavestartedinthesecondcenturyafterChrist
3
BesidesbcmgresponsibleforthetransrrussionandpreservationofGreekthoughtwhenoncewnttendown,theuseofpapyrusalsoen-
ItwasnotongmallymymrcnnontopublrshrhismaugurallcctureWhen
It
wasdelivered,muchrnarcnalandmanydrtad,hadholdtobeexcludedowmg
to
therestrictedorneavailableforthelectureand
I
hereforedecidedtoexpandItmro"bookSincehowever,IdonotknowwhenorIflvcrIshallbeabletoputtimproJlct
111m
eiflct,andfollowmgreque'tswhichhavereachedmefromvarrousquartlr~InowpuhltshItbelatedly
10lIS
orrgmalformI
~hollid
lIkL
toexprc~smygratltlHittotheUniversrryCollegeauthonnesforkmdlyauthonzing[bepubhcauonofthe
let
rurcsolongafier
It
wasdelivered
3
 
PAPERANDBOOKS
couragedthecreationofnewliteraryworks,andthenatureandsizeofpapyrusbooksinfluencedtheextentandformofliterarycompositions.ItisidletospeculatewhatwouldhavebeenthedevelopmentofGreekliterature,andindeedofthewholeGreekcivilization,iftheyhadbeendependentonsomeheavier,morecumbersomeormoreexpensivewritingmaterial,suchasstoneandmetalplates,woodenandclaytablets,orleather-theGreeksseemnevertohavebeenquiteawareoftheblessingofpapyrus,butnooneto-daywilldenythatwithoutitGreekspirituallifewouldhavebeenmuchpoorerandmoreprimitive.Itisindeedveryprobable,thoughitcannotbeproved,thatevenbeforetheGreeks,papyruswasthechiefvehicleofHebrewliterature;cer-tainlyinlatertimestheTorawaswrittenonpapyrusandithasneverlosttheoldrollform.ThechiefoutletofpapyrusintotheGreekworldwasprobablythePhoenicianportGubal;theGreekformofitsname,Byblos,seemstohavebeeninfluencedbytheGreekwords
f3vf3'Aoc;
for'papyrus-reed',and
f3[f3'Ao<;
or
f3~f3Aiov
for'book',4Theword
rra.rrfJpoc;,
attestedinGreeksinceThea-phrastusonly,isthoughttobeofEgyptianorigin,aStillintheverylateBohairic(LowerEgyptian)dialectofCoptic(ChristianidiomofEgypt)""
nA.llO"f'pO,
thoughnotactuallyattested,wouldmeanthatoftheKing',
noxpo
beingherethewordmorefamiliartousinitsBiblicalformasPharaoh."'ThatoftheKing'wouldrefertothefactthatpapyruswasthesubjectofaroyalmonopolyorcontrolinPtolemaictimes.TheonlyobjectionIcanseetothisderivationisthatthesimilarityoftheGreekandtheEgyptianwordsistoogreat-muchgreaterthanisusualinsuchcases.Certainly.anEgyptianetymologyofthewordiswhatweshouldexpect,sincethecradleofthepapyruswasEgypt.ThosewhohaveseenmodemEgyptfmditdifficulttobelievethatinantiquitylargeareasofthecountry,especiallyintheDelta,wereoccupiedbyswampsinwhichthepapyrusgrewandflour-ished,Ofallthisnothingisnowleft,theonlyspecimenoftheplanttobeseenbeingintheCairoBotanicalGarden,anditisnecessarytogoasfarastheSudanandAbyssiniatofmdthepapyrusgrowingwild,
In
theGraeco-Romanperiod
it
wasintro-ducedintoSicily,whereitmaystillbefoundatandnearPalermo,Someclassicalauthorsinformusthatthepapyrusplantoccurred
4

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