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The development of papyrology in North America

Gabi Stewart


This paper traces the development of papyrology in North America from 1925 to 1977. Specifically, it follows the evolution of Yale papyrology, an enterprise inaugurated by emigre historian Michael I. Rostovtzeff when he assumed the Sterling Professorship in 1925. Rostovtzeff introduced papyrology to Yale as part and parcel of his document-centered model for historical analysis, typified by his Social and Economic histories. The Rostovtzeff tradition at Yale was dismantled suddenly in the early 1960s, when a departmental dispute resulted in the departure of Yale’s eminent historians and papyrologists. As a result, however, papyrology spread across North America, which facilitated the formation of a uniquely North American brand of papyrological scholarship and also necessitated the formation of the American Society of Papyrologists. This paper provides both a history of monumental moments in papyrology’s spread, as well as an analysis of how the Rostovzteffian tradition has influenced the trajectory of papyrological scholarship.

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Culture & Society in Greek Roman & Byzantine Egypt

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