Papyri

A large number of Greek papyri survives from Egypt from between 300BC and 700AD when Greek was the official language of the country. Together with wooden and wax tablets and inscribed pottery sherds (ostraca), they provide an unparalleled insight into the culture and the everyday life of men, women and children over a thousand years ago.

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Ancient books

Article by:
Cillian O’Hogan

What did books look like in antiquity? In this article, Cillian O’Hogan tells how ancient books were made, and traces the process by which the bookroll was replaced by the codex.

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Ancient libraries

Article by:
Matthew Nicholls

How were books stored and accessed in the ancient world? Matthew Nicholls explores what the surviving evidence of ancient books can tell us about libraries in antiquity.

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Book illumination in antiquity

Article by:
Cillian O’Hogan

The history of illuminated manuscripts goes back to antiquity. In this article, Cillian O’Hogan describes the surviving fragments of ancient and late antique illuminated Greek books now held in the British Library.

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Further themes

Art

Learn more about Byzantine art from the illuminations and decorations found on Greek manuscripts.

Papyri

Explore what Greek papyri reveal about the lives, troubles, and joys of people who lived over a thousand years ago.

Religion

Discover more about what our rich collection of surviving religious manuscripts tells us about Byzantine life.

Scholarship

Explore the intellectual traditions of the Graeco-Roman world that continued throughout the Byzantine era and into the Early Modern world.

The Greek World

Explore the influence of the Greek world on Western Europe and the Middle East.

The makers of Greek manuscripts

Learn more about book production in antiquity. What was more popular: parchment or paper?