An Evening of Presentations to Celebrate the Petra Papyri Final Publication

The ACOR Video Lecture Series provides accessible discussions of new research into the past and present of Jordan and the broader Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean worlds. This video was adapted from the public lectures delivered at ACOR by Dr. Jaakko Frösén and Dr. Antti Arjava from the University of Helsinki to discuss the final volume of Petra Papyri Final Publication, opened by ACOR Director Dr. Barbara Porter’s behind-the-scene presentation.

About the Lectures:

Barbara A. Porter, “Behind the Scenes in the Petra Papyri Publication Process”
Since the discovery in the ACOR excavations of the Petra Church in 1993, the Petra Papyri have drawn many researchers and specialists from around the world to ACOR to help preserve, analyze, and publish them. Numerous contributors’ painstaking work and dedication have made their final publication possible after 25 years.

Jaakko Frösén,“From Carbonized Papyri to the Monastery of Saint Aaron at Petra: The ‘Last Will’ of Mr. Obodianos”
In Papyrus Petra V 55 = Inv. 6a (A.D. 573), there are six copies of a gift after death (donatio mortis causa) offered by Obodianos, who is lying sick and promises all his belongings to the House of Aaron and to the hospital of Martyr Kyrikos. According to tradition, Mt. Aaron is the burial place of the High Priest and Prophet Aaron, the brother of Moses. A building complex on a terrace just below the summit was the House (pilgrimage center) of Aaron, of which we have the earliest mention in this carbonized scroll. A Finnish archaeological project was carried out on Jabal Haron from 1997 to 2013 to understand the topography, history, epigraphy, and environment of the mountain, and its surroundings. The results of the excavations are summarized.

Antti Arjava, “The People of Petra Reflected in the Papyri”
This lecture presents the people appearing in the papyri. The central figure in the dossier is Theodoros, the deacon and then the archdeacon in the church where the papyrus scrolls were found. The main features of his career and family can be reconstructed with relative certainty. A large number of other people are mentioned more briefly in the texts, men and women, landowners, officials, clergy, soldiers and slaves. Taken together, the documents open a totally new view into the society of Petra during the last century of Byzantine rule.

About the Lecturers:

Barbara A. Porter has been the Director of the American Center of Oriental Research in Amman since 2006. She received her A.B. from Bryn Mawr College and her M.A., M. Phil., and Ph.D. from Columbia University. Her dissertation specialized on cylinder seals from Syria. Part of her childhood was spent in Lebanon, where her interest in the archaeology of the region was fostered. From 1978 to 1986 she was on the curatorial staff of The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Egyptian Art and Ancient Near Eastern Art) and in the 1990s taught at New York University. She led several archaeological tours from Algeria to Iran (including Jordan) in the ten years before moving to Amman. She oversaw the ACOR Petra Papyri publication volumes II-V until their completion.   

Jaakko Frösén is Professor Emeritus of Greek Philology at the University of Helsinki. He published his linguistic dissertation ‘Prolegomena to a Study of the Greek Language of the First Centuries AD’ in 1974 at the University of Helsinki. Thereafter, he has done his research work mostly in publishing and interpreting Greek papyri from Egypt. He was director of the Finnish Archaeological Institute at Athens from 1988 to 1992. During the last decades he has mainly worked on the carbonized papyri of Petra. These studies lead to the archaeological excavations on Mount Aaron in Petra. His research team at the University of Helsinki was nominated as Centre of Excellence in Research for 2000–2011 by the Academy of Finland. 

Antti Arjava received his PhD in Classics from the University of Helsinki in 1995. He has written extensively on women and the family in Late Antiquity, on Roman law in the provinces, and on the mystery cloud of A.D. 536 in the Mediterranean sources. In the past two decades, he has been the general editor of the Petra Papyri. He is Docent of Classical Philology at the University of Helsinki and since 2003 the Secretary General of the Finnish Cultural Foundation.

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