ï~~Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 46 (2009) 175-187
Egypt at Empire's End
Clement A. Kuehn Hopkins School
Review article of Roger S. Bagnall (ed.), Egypt in the Byzantine World,
300-700. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. xvi + 464
pages. ISBN 978-0-521-87137-2.
Roger Bagnall has done an excellent job assembling some of the most
prestigious and accomplished scholars of Byzantine Egypt, as well as some of
the most promising young researchers, for this collection of articles, Egypt in
the Byzantine World, 300-700. Most of the authors had participated in a conference on Byzantine Egypt held at Dumbarton Oaks in the spring of 2004.
The articles are reworkings of their papers, often taking into consideration the
discussions that arose either at the conference or later. Bagnall also solicited
other articles in order to cover more areas of the period's history and culture.
The twenty-one that were finally gathered (called "chapters") are here arranged
into three general categories: The Culture of Byzantine Egypt; Government, Environments, Society, and Economy; and Christianity: The Church and Monasticism. The format of the articles is generally homogenous and each is followed
by a concise bibliography. The authors sometimes express an awareness of the
other contributors, and they are careful not to duplicate material significantly;
otherwise there is little relationship between them. Indeed, the articles show
a remarkable degree of diversity, not only in the individual styles of writing,
but also in the primary sources and interpretive techniques. Several authors
discuss new sources, or new or revised interpretations of previously known
sources, and thus the collection is necessary reading for the scholar of Byzantium and Byzantine Egypt. Because of the variety of interpretive techniques,
the book would also be informative for scholars in historical fields not necessarily focused on Byzantium or Egypt, such as archaeology, art history, classical education and poetry, gender studies, and urban studies. Several authors
consider their articles an introduction to a particular topic, and generally the
language is not overly technical. The book contains black and white illustrations, incorporated into the appropriate chapters. Bagnall has written the first
chapter, which serves as the introduction, and the book is concluded by an
index of proper names and important subjects.