R. Ast, M. Choat, J. Cromwell, J. Lougovaya, R. Yuen-Collingridge (eds.), Observing the Scribe at Work. Scribal Practice in the Ancient World (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta, 301), Peeters, 2021, ISBN: 9789042942868, E-ISBN: 9789042942875, XIV-346 p.
Scribes are paradoxically both central and invisible in most societies before the typographic revolution of the 15th century, witnessed by every manuscript, but often elusive as historical figures. The act of writing is a quotidian and vernacular practice as well as a literary one, and must be observed not only in the outputs of literary copyists or reports of their activities, but in the documents of everyday life. This volume collects contributions on scribal practice as it features on diverse media (including papyri, tablets, and inscriptions) in a range of ancient societies, from the Ancient Near East and Dynastic Egypt through the Graeco-Roman world to Byzantium. These discussions of the role and place of scribes and scribal activity in pre-typographic cultures both contribute to a better understanding of one of the key drivers of these cultures, and illuminate the transmission of knowledge and traditions within and between them.