Ancient Archives and Archival Traditions

Concepts of Record-Keeping in the Ancient World

On 17-19 September the CSAD held a conference in Christ Church organised by Dr Maria Brosius and Dr Alan Bowman on ancient archives and archival traditions. Generous funds from the British Academy, the Craven Committee, the Queen's College, the Board of Literae Humaniores, the Management Committee of the Griffith Institute, and the Oriental Studies Board made this workshop possible. Nineteen scholars from different disciplines attended this international workshop by invitation. Our aim was to discover what could be achieved in the setting of a small workshop in terms of identifying and establishing a method (or methods) for analysing the following issues: text and format, the relationship between text and documents, and the layout of the text and its relationship to the type of document it represents. In asking questions about possible traditions of scribal conventions and concepts of accounting processes, the workshop aimed to identify the first steps leading to an 'Urkundenlehre' for ancient archival documents.

Participants included scholars from the field of assyriology, Aegean studies, papyrology, archaeology and ancient history, and the papers covered a substantial historical period ranging from the third to the first millennium B.C. The interdisciplinary character of the workshop proved highly beneficial for all participants, as the very engaging discussions throughout the two-day period showed. Though intensive, the lively and relaxed atmosphere of the workshop, not least ensured by the hospitality of Christ Church College, ensured this to be an academically successful occasion. Having opened the discussion of a new way to approach ancient documents, the enthusiasm and encouragement of all participants suggests that the CSAD should consider holding similar workshops on archival traditions in the future.

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