Ancient legal papyri bring lost world to life

Everyone has heard of the ancient Jewish religious scrolls discovered at Qumran by the Dead Sea in the middle of the 20th century. But who is aware that nearly 100 legal papyri have been found in
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Everyone has heard of the ancient Jewish religious scrolls discovered at Qumran by the Dead Sea in the middle of the 20th century. But who is aware that nearly 100 legal papyri have been found in the same region, or that they allow unparalleled access to the ancient social world of Judea and Nabatea in the period 100 BCE to 200 CE? Then, as now, you went to a lawyer (‘scribe’ to use their term) when you had a big problem or a big opportunity in your life. Legal papyri concern issues that mattered. And then, as now, it was in the parties’ interest to make sure that they stated they facts accurately; with these documents there are no issues of literary genre or religious belief to obscure our interpretation of the data. Yet the scholarship these papyri has attracted so far focuses almost entirely on their legal dimensions. In the early 1950s members of the Ta’amireh bedouin tribe began turning up at the Rockefeller Museum in East Jerusalem to sell legal papyri, some of them in Nabatean. . .

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News source: OUPblog » Philosophy

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