Friday, April 06, 2012

Book Review: Documentary Arabic Private and Business Letters on Papyrus

Bryn Mawr Classical Review  (Reviewed by Emily Cottrell)

Eva Mira Grob, Documentary Arabic Private and Business Letters on Papyrus: Form and Function, Content and Context. Archiv für Papyrusforschung und verwandte Gebiete, Beiheft 29.   Berlin; New York:  De Gruyter, 2010.  Pp. xix, 269.  ISBN 9783110247046.  $140.00. 


This doctoral dissertation, the first comprehensive work on Arabic private and business letters on papyri (with the exception of the Qurra ibn Sharik archive) appeared shortly after its defense at the University of Zurich. Under the able supervision of Professor Andreas Kaplony, Eva Mira Grob has produced a major work of research. Grob has also been active as one of the contributors to the Arabic Papyrology Database (APD), conceived in 2002 and currently giving access to some 2,500 documents. This dissertation is therefore both personal research on early Arabic epistolary materials and a companion to the APD. Scholars from a variety of horizons — historians, linguists, Arabists, paleographers and codicologists — will find here plenty of food for thought. For paleographers and codicologists, Grob’s dissertation will prove to be a milestone in the footsteps of Geoffrey Khan’s scrupulous analysis of papyri scripts.

Egyptian papyri have long been a valuable source for historians: commercial practices, lists of goods, private orders by all actors of society can be followed from Ancient Egypt to the Byzantine and Muslim periods.

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