Institut français
d’archéologie orientale - Le Caire

Les conférence de l'Ifao

IFAO Lectures Cycle

Biliteracy in Byzantine Egypt:

what can we learn from bilingual documentary sources from Aphrodito?

Loreleï Vanderheyden

Università di Roma-La Sapienza

Wednesday, 20 February 2019, 6 p.m. at the IFAO 

Lecture abstract:

Dioscorus, son of Apollos, from the village of Aphrodito in Middle Egypt, was the central figure of the most important bilingual archive we keep for the Byzantine period. His business papers, correspondence, poems, library, and documents of all kinds cover all aspects of the social, administrative, economic and religious history of this village of Thebaid and give us a unique opportunity to study the Greek-Coptic biliteracy.
After an introduction to this archive, some unpublished Coptic letters will be presented as examples of bilingualism and digraphism in the village of Aphrodito, in order to give the audience a glance at the writing habits of some biliterate 6th century scribes. A survey of the biliteracy of Dioscorus’ family, from his father to his sons, will also give us the chance to look at a unique case of family biliteracy through three generations.


Loreleï Vanderheyden holds a PhD in Coptic Papyrology from the École Pratique des Hautes Études (Paris) since 2015 and is currently a Post-Doctoral Researcher in the ERC-NOTAE team in Rome. Her doctoral thesis focused on publishing a corpus of written correspondence in Coptic, found in a family archive of the sixth century CE in Middle Egypt. She has been a member of the "Byzantine World" component of UMR 8167 since 2008, and a postdoctoral fellow since 2016. She is the author of articles of papyrology and is particularly interested in paleography, in the history of Byzantine Egypt and in the edition of ancient texts.