The hands of the scribes in Antiquity: scribal practices and the social place of scribes from the Old Assyrian to the Hellenistic Period

In the recent years, research has proposed a new insight in the work of scribes in different geographical and chronological spheres. A new discussion mixing periods and geographical spaces seems welcome today to explore the dissimilarities and similarities in the social place and the professional habits of scribes that exists at any time in Ancient Near East and Egypt. The methods offered by prosopography, palaeography, linguistic, anthropology and social network analysis provide invaluable tools for analysing the activities of the scribes and their socio-cultural context. They allow us to revisit the studies previously made on this socio-professional group. The aim of this workshop is to conduct diachronic studies of the social position of scribes and their professional practices, by the analysis of administrative, economic, legal texts and letters from the Old Assyrian period to the Hellenistic period through these renewed approaches.

Provisional Programme


14:15-14:30 Welcome and brief introduction by Marie Young and Véronique Pataï

14h30-15h Wiebke Beyer (Hamburg University)
A Study on Wedges-The Variability of Old Assyrian Cuneiform Signs

15h-15h30 Anita Fattori (São Paulo University / Paris 1, Panthéon-Sorbonne University)
Family Lexicon: Language and Gender in the Old Assyrian Letters

15h30-16h Coffee Break

16h-16h30 Véronique Pataï (Department of Near Eastern Antiquities at the Louvre, Paris)
A prosopographical investigation of the scribes of Nuzi: the case of dAK.DINGIR.RA son of Sîn napšir

16h30-17h Baudouin Luzianovich (Sorbonne University)
Knowledgeable Royal Servants: the case of king’s scribes in New Kingdom Egypt (1470 1069 B.C.E)


10h00-10h30 Maarja Seire (Leiden University)
The Scribes of Itti-Marduk-balāṭu

10h30-11h Paulina Pikulska (Warsaw University)
College Scribes of Sippar and their scribal activity

11h00-11h15 Coffee Break

11h15- 11h45 Marie Young (Paris 1, Panthéon-Sorbonne University / Heidelberg University)
The Sîn-lēqi-unninni and the Ekur-zākir families and the writing of contracts in the Hellenistic Uruk Society

11h45-12h15 Robert Kade (Humboldt University of Berlin)
The many hands on the kalamos – A survey through the scribal habits of Graeco-Roman Egypt

12h15 – 12h35 Conclusion by Marie Young and Véronique Pataï


Marie Young (
Véronique Pataï (


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Université Paris-Nanterre