Taking the Papyri: Life in Roman and Byzantine Egypt

Ref: C2224363

Delving into ancient papyri, this new and fascinating course illustrates the story of Egypt under the Romans and Byzantines, from 30 B.C. (when Cleopatra died and Egypt became a Roman province) to 641 A.D., when the Arabs conquered Egypt. Each week, following an illustrated introduction, we read selected documents covering some really engaging topics: people and their personal and professional problems, women’s lives in villages and towns, engaging with workmen, troubles with injury and disease, doctors and medicine, slavery, schooling and education, religious and cultural transition, pagan practice and the challenge of the Church, monks and monasticism.

Course aim

This course introduces life in Roman and Byzantine Egypt, from 30 B.C. to A.D. 641, as it is vividly reflected in letters and other documents preserved on papyrus, and other materials.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • explain the importance of newly discovered writings on papyri.
  • evaluate the relative importance of the various documents introduced and discussed.
  • analyse the content of any one of the documents introduced and discussed.
  • describe the circumstances which led to papyri being preserved in Egypt.
  • discuss the value of papyrology in the modern world.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning
  • The course entails reading translations of ancient documents in class and discussing their meaning in the context of the period in which they were written.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • You will be encouraged to consider other students work and give your opinions and suggestions
  • A file of work will be kept which will help to record your progress

What else do I need to know?

  • Students would find it helpful to bring either a notebook and pen, or a tablet computer to class to record ideas and information.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required
  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful

What can I do next?

Download full Course information sheet

Taking the Papyri: Life in Roman and Byzantine Egypt


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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