Ancient libraries conference

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9-11 SEPTEMBER 2008

Libraries operate as the core foundation of research and study in the modern Western world. Historically, they have enabled the preservation and transmission of knowledge from antiquity to the Middle Ages, to the contemporary era. Yet in the diachronic history of the library, we still lack fundamental facts about its institutional role, organisation and mode of operation in the ancient world. This is especially  cute as both archaeological research and the study of ancient literary texts have enabled significant advancement to our knowledge and understanding of ancient written culture and its various loci of production and dissemination.
The conference aims to re-open discussion of the role, function and users of ancient libraries. We are keen to explore the shifting conditions under which the library operated as a physical and institutional entity, but also as intellectual and symbolic space over the long span of antiquity. In addition, we wish to investigate a variety of scholarly practices and social and intellectual networks that developed within the domain of the ancient library. We thus hope to illuminate the relationship between the library and the broader culture of reading, writing and intellectual exchange in antiquity.

Conference organisers:
Dr Jason König
Dr Katerina Oikonomopoulou
Professor Greg Woolf

The conference is part of the activities of the Leverhulme-funded ‘Science and Empire in the Roman World’ project ( It will bring together literary scholars, historians and archaeologists of all periods of Graeco-Roman antiquity specialising in the above fields. Confirmed speakers include: Ewen Bowie, Annette Harder, George Houston, Christian Jacob, William Johnson, Richard Neudecker.

We invite papers on the following broad themes:
• The library as both material and intellectual archive: its history, significance and development
• Libraries and the reading culture of antiquity
• Patterns of source usage, cross-referencing and annotating in antiquity
• The institutional function of ancient libraries, and their role in ancient intellectual life
• Libraries and patronage, or benefaction
• Libraries and acquisitiveness, material or intellectual
• The organisation and operation of ancient libraries
• The topography of the ancient library: libraries and civic space
• Public and private libraries in the ancient world

Scholars, including postgraduate students, are asked to send 300-word abstracts to Katerina Oikonomopoulou (ao40 arobase by the 30th of April 2008.

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