Textualizing Aramean Identities in Egypt: Papyrus Amherst 63

Recorded: November 18, 2020
Event: Pourdavoud Center Workshop - The Puzzling Papyrus: New Perspectives on Papyrus Amherst 63

by Tawny Holm (Pennsylvania State University)

Textualizing Aramean Identities in Egypt: Papyrus Amherst 63

Professor Holm’s presentation highlights the new evidence that Papyrus Amherst 63 brings to our understanding of the Aramean and Aramaic-speaking diaspora in Egypt. The papyrus, written in approximately the fourth century BCE in Aramaic but using Demotic Egyptian script, is an anthology of Aramaic texts that reflect the traditions and collective cultural memory of a group of Aramean émigrés, including Judeans and Samarians, to Egypt in the first millennium BCE. The papyrus marries East and West in its nostalgia for lost landscapes, cities, and cult centers from across the Near East, yet it also joins this nostalgia with themes of renewal and rejuvenation in a new land. It seems likely that the various compositions on the papyrus became anthologized as such in Egypt.

Professor Tawyn Holm’s Bio

Tawny Holm earned her Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible and Northwest Semitic Languages at The Johns Hopkins University, and is now an Associate Professor of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies and the Jewish Studies Program at Pennsylvania State University. Her main research areas are Hebrew Bible and Aramaic studies, including Aramaic language and Aramean religion and culture. She is the author of Of Courtiers and Kings: The Biblical Daniel Narratives and Ancient Story-Collections (Eisenbrauns, 2013), and Aramaic Literary Texts, soon to appear in the SBL series “Writings from the Ancient World.” The latter is a bilingual edition of Aramaic literary texts from the Levant to Egypt, in particular the multi-composition Papyrus Amherst 63, written in Aramaic language but with Demotic Egyptian script. Other projects include a monograph on ancient Aramaic literature generally (under contract with de Gruyter), a critical edition of Papyrus Amherst 63 (also with de Gruyter), and a textbook of Imperial Aramaic currently under review. Professor Holm is also editing a collective volume, Handbook of Religions in the Ancient Near East, for Oxford University Press, and co-editing with Juan Pedro Monferrer Sala the Proceedings volume of the 8th Biennial Meeting of the International Association of Comparative Semitics in 2019. Among other professional service, she is an editorial board member of the Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions, a member of the Eisenbrauns Editorial Committeee for Penn State University Press, and Aramaic epigrapher for The University of Vienna Middle Egypt Project at Sheikh Faḍl.