This collection attempts to set the study of literacy in the ancient world in the wider contexts of the debates among anthropologists over the impact of writing on society. Was writing a revolutionary innovation, prompting or participating in social change, or a fundamentally repressive and disciplinary technology? The book consists of a series of studies ranging over the whole of the Mediterranean world and much of northern Europe during a period of more than a millennium (c. 600 BC-AD 800). The areas examined include Pharaonic and Hellenistic Egypt, Persia and the Near East, Judaea, classical Greece, and the Roman and the Byzantine empires. Each of the contributors investigates, in his or her particular area of expertise, the changing roles of writing in history, in particular the extent to which writing played an active role in historical change in antiquity.
'Bowman and Woolf's collection has many virtues - not least putting Greek and Roman experience into a wider ancient context. All classicists must read it to broaden their range and enlarge their operating framework.' The Classical Review 'This book is highly informative and always interesting ... ' JACT Review