Teachers and Students

A number of the ancient texts found in Egypt are school exercises. The subjects that students would study included reading and writing, arithmetic, and the sciences. Reading and writing were of course the primary skills parents hoped their children would attain, as reflected in the greater number of surviving school exercises related to literacy rather than to math or science.

image of school poem on mythology School poem on mythology. P. Mich. inv. 4953 (R.W. Daniel, ZPE 49, 1982, 43-44). Greek. – Unknown provenance, Egypt. – 3rd cent. C.E.

This papyrus preserves part of a poem that was used as a writing exercise. The teacher, in a fluent hand, wrote three lines of a poem in lines 1-4. The student, in a much clumsier hand, then began to copy the text, but stopped before even completing the first line. The student wrote his name at the bottom: Euthychides, son of Kalopos.

image of Coptic school exercise Coptic School Exercise. P. Mich. inv. 926 (E.M. Husselman, JNES 6, 1947, 129-151). Coptic. – Theadelphia, Fayum, Egypt. – 4th century C.E.

This text is a portion of a codex (e.g., in the form of a book rather than a scroll) that was used in classroom instruction. It is a model showing students how to form syllables. The handwriting is professional, indicating that the book was probably created by a teacher.

image of Latin writing exercise Latin Writing Exercise. P. Mich. inv. 3721 Verso (P. Mich. VII 459). Latin. – Oxyrhynchos (Behnesa) ?, Egypt. – Roman

These two lines are in large, so-called rustic capitals. The content of the text is unintelligible.

image of school exercise School Exercise. P. Mich. inv. 29974 (SB XX 15190). Greek. – Unknown provenance, Egypt. 5th/6th cent. C.E.

This side of the wooden tablet contains a table of the simplest of fractions (e.g., 1/2) and an equally simple multiplication table. The text can only be dated on the basis of the handwriting.

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