ISAW announces the publication of Ostraka in the Collection of New York University

By David Ratzan

The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World and the NYU Press are pleased to announce the publication of the latest volume from ISAW Monographs, Ostraka in the Collection of New York University, edited by Gert Baetens, Roger S. Bagnall, Clementina Caputo, Élodie Mazy, and David M. Ratzan.

Ostraka in the Collection of New York University is a comprehensive edition and commentary of seventy-seven ostraka, or potsherds with ancient texts written on them, from Greco-Roman and late antique Egypt. 

Seventy-two of these ostraka are housed in NYU Special Collections, originally purchased by Casper Kraemer in 1932, then the chair of the NYU Classics Department. Although Kraemer advertised the imminent publication of the texts in 1934 and later shared some of the results of his work with the famed papyrologist Herbert Youtie, neither completed the project. The ostraka in this small collection span the 2nd century BCE to the 8th century CE and include both Greek and Coptic texts. The majority, however, form a coherent dossier of tax receipts related to mortuary activities in Upper Egypt during the reign of Augustus (O.NYU 7-70, dated from roughly the last quarter of the 1st cent BCE to 12 CE). The five ostraka published in this volume but not held by NYU include one that had been part of Kraemer’s original purchase but was subsequently lost (thankfully preserved in a photograph in Youtie’s archive at the University of Michigan), and four ostraka now held by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The latter four texts were purchased separately and published previously, but clearly belong to the same group of texts. They are included in this volume both for the sake of completeness and because the present editors were able to improve the readings in light of the context provided by the dossier as a whole. In addition to the scholarly edition of these texts, the volume contains a full discussion of their provenance, the taxes involved, the taxpayers and tax-collectors, and a ceramological analysis of the sherds as media for these texts.

The book will be of interest primarily to specialists in papyrology and scholars who study the economic and social history of the ancient Mediterranean, Hellenistic Egypt, and the Roman Empire.

About the authors

Gert Baetens holds a PhD from KU Leuven and specializes in Greek and Demotic papyrology and the history of Graeco-Roman Egypt. His recent publications include studies of the legal petition process and the organization of the funerary trade.

Roger S. Bagnall is the Leon Levy Director and Professor of Ancient History (emeritus), at NYU's Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. 

Clementina Caputo holds a PhD from the University of Salento (Lecce, Italy). Between 2016 and 2019, she was a postdoctoral researcher at Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg (Germany). Her main research area is the ceramic material culture of Egypt between the Hellenistic and Byzantine periods. Currently, she is the ceramologist for the Archaeological Missions at Soknopaiou Nesos / Dime (Fayum), Trimithis / Amheida (Dakhla Oasis), Plinthine (North of Lake Mariout), Tuna el-Gebel (Middle Egypt), and Berenike (Desert Oriental).

Élodie Mazy is a PhD candidate at the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), where she received her master’s degrees in Classics and History. Her current research is on papyrology and the social, economic, and cultural history of Byzantine and Early Islamic Egypt, with a focus on the organization of feasts and festivals.

David M. Ratzan is the Head of the Library of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at NYU. He has published on various aspects of the social and economic history of the ancient Mediterranean world.

About ISAW Monographs

Ostraka in the Collection of New York University is the thirteenth volume to be published in the ISAW Monographs series, a joint publication project with the NYU Press. ISAW Monographs publishes authoritative studies of new evidence and research into the texts, archaeology, art history, material culture, and history of the cultures and periods representing the core areas of study at NYU's Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. The topics and approaches of the volumes in this series reflect the intellectual mission of ISAW as a center for advanced scholarly research and graduate education whose aim is to encourage the study of the economic, religious, political, and cultural connections between ancient civilizations, from the Western Mediterranean across the Near East and Central Asia, to China.

As with ISAW Papers, ISAW's born-digital journal, ISAW is committed to publishing all volumes of ISAW Monographs free and online for the interested public and scholarship community in a timely fashion. Currently, five volumes of ISAW Monographs are now available free online via the ISAW Publications page. 

Information about previous volumes, including how to order them in both print and online versions, is available via the ISAW Publications page and the NYU Press website. For information or questions about ISAW Monographs and ISAW's publishing projects, please email David M. Ratzan:

To request review copies, please email Lucie Taylor:

Ostraka in the Collection of New York University

Edited by Gert Baetens, Roger S. Bagnall, 

Clementina Caputo, Élodie Mazy, and David M. Ratzan.

164 pages | 78 black-and-white illustrations and 11 color illustrations

8.5  x 11.0 in. | $75.00

ISBN: 9781479813797 | Publication date: January 4, 2022 |