This project will create an authoritative collection of Greek personal name evidence from Egypt, unlocking the potential contained in such names for innovative research into every aspect of ancient life in Greco-Roman Egypt. It forms part of the Lexicon of Greek Personal Names (LGPN) project which covers the period from the earliest historical records (8th c. BC) to the early Byzantine period (7th c. AD). LGPN is not just about names but about people. Every attested bearer of a name is included. It is thus a fundamental tool for research into most aspects of social history.
The history of Greco-Roman Egypt is the history of the imposition of first Greek, then Roman rule upon a tenacious ancient culture. Naming is one of the key sources of evidence for the complicated cultural accommodations and resistances that occurred. Male Egyptians seeking to get ahead in the public sphere often took a Greek name in addition to an Egyptian (sometime 'translated' from the latter); under Roman rule they often bore two Greek names, apparently in imitation of the two (or three) names borne by Roman citizens. The emergence of numerous Greco-Egyptian hybrid names by contrast attests a sense in which cultural mixing was taken for granted. Later, new names become a crucial if controversial index of the spread of Christianity.
Egypt presents two special challenges. First, evidence in Greek here co-exists with that in Egyptian demotic. Second, because of the survival of papyri in a dry climate, the quantity of evidence available is uniquely abundant.
Louvre inv. 91. © 2018 Musée du Louvre, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais/Christian Décamps (opposite).