A Runaway Child Bride
By Jenny Cromwell
How early was too early to marry in the ancient world? If the answer is connected to being an adult, then what is an adult? And does that question differ for men and women? Read more here.

An Abandoned Wife and Unpaid Alimony
By Jenny Cromwell
It’s a story that resonates throughout the ages: a man abandons his wife and their children for another woman. The story could be of a woman abandoning her husband and kids, but the story on this 7th century AD papyrus is of a man who leaves his wife. Read more here.

Baby Exposed, Baby Snatched, Roman Egypt-Style
By Katherine Blouin
Babies being abandoned by or snatched from their family is, sadly, not a recent phenomenon. One papyrus from 1st-century CE Oxyrhynchus offers a glimpse into how these scenarios were legally dealt with when Egypt was ruled by the Romans. Read more here.

Blessing a Baby Against Every Illness
By Ágnes Mihálykó
Christians of Egypt received blessing from the church in many forms: as prayers of inclination at the end of the Eucharist, when the celebrant blessed the congregation before their departure, as private blessings issued by holy monks, or as material blessings (eulogiai), such as oil from a pilgrimage centre. Read more here.

Death in the Desert
By Jenny Cromwell
Life in the ancient world, before the development of modern medicine, was hard. Child mortality rates were high, life-expectancy was much lower than it is today, and illnesses and injuries that are easily cured now were often fatal. Life out in the oases of the western desert must have been especially difficult. Read more here.

Death of a Slave Boy
By Jenny Cromwell
Cymbals struck as festival performers wound their way through the village’s streets . But then tragedy struck. Leaning over the balcony to view the players below, a young slave boy Epaphroditos fell and died. Was it an accident? Was it murder? Read more here.

“If God saves him from death”: Donation of a boy to a Coptic monastery
By Jenny Cromwell
On the 29 August 766 CE, a woman named Tachel daughter of Sophia from Luxor (ancient Apê) donated her son Athanasius to a local monastery, the monastery of Apa Phoibammon at Deir el-Bahri. Read more here.

Jealousy, Bullying, and Broken Thumbs
By Jenny Cromwell
While texts from day-to-day life provide immediate insights into the very personal concerns of individuals living in the ancient world, literary works also give glimpses into different aspects of daily life, even if their accounts may be embellished. In the Life and Martyrdom of two saints, Panine and Panew, the story begins with the boyhood friendship of the two, who would later go on to become monks and then martyrs. One episode in the life of Panine sends us back to his classroom, and what follows focuses on the window into the world of education in late antique Egypt that it contains. Read more here.

“My milk being good from both breasts”
By Jenny Cromwell
In a Coptic letter from the 7th century CE, a wet nurse Maria expresses her grief and condolences over the death of a young girl. Read more here.

Parental Grief and Child Mortality
By Jenny Cromwell
At birth, there was only a 66 per cent chance of celebrating your first birthday: one-third of all new-borns in the ancient world died before reaching that milestone. Read more here.

Pay After Reading: The Cost of Education in Late Antique Egyptian Villages
By Jenny Cromwell
In the ancient world, education – learning to read and write – wasn’t a right and was accessible by only a small number of people. Only 5–10% of the population was literate. But what does this mean, what constitutes being literate? Read more here.

“Schoolboy, where have you been going so long?”: The Old Babylonian Student and School
By Moudhy Al-Rashid
Amid the ruins of Nippur is a house, inspiringly named “House F”, made up of a small courtyard with four rooms. The crumbled remains of benches appear in one room and in the courtyard, where there are also three recessed boxes constructed from mud brick. In these boxes were fragments of tablets and pots, and dried piles of clay once used by scribes in training to make cuneiform tablets. Read more here.

Struggling to Provide
By Jenny Cromwell
In early December, one year in the seventh century, a man called Damianos from the Fayum asked for a cash loan and was given it from another man, Shenoute. Short loan contracts such as this one are pretty common, although the amount and type of details provided vary from case to case. Read more here.

Student Life in the Second Century CE
By Jenny Cromwell
Some time around the turn of the 2nd century CE, a student – probably in Alexandria – wrote back to his father Theon to complain about various parts of student life. Read more here.

%d bloggers like this: