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This Element seeks to characterize the scribal culture in ancient Egypt through its textual acts, which were of prime importance in this culture: writing, list-making, drawing, and copying. Drawing upon texts, material objects, and archeological evidence, this Element will touch upon main themes at the heart of the study of this culture, while building on current discussions in literacy and literary as well as social history.
The official birthday of Czechoslovakia was 28 October 1918. The genesis of an Egyptological chair and seminar followed in the 1920s, after a redefinition of the Czech part of the university in Prague as the Charles University (Univerzita Karlova: cf. p. 278). Czechoslovak Egyptology – indeed oriental studies as a whole – was, like many aspects of a state that was a successor to a multinational empire, derived from the Austrian(-Hungarian) school system and educational practices, a system that was, albeit reluctantly at times, multinational and multilingual. Tensions between a multinational state and local national revival (as nations within one state competed for a political recognition) had an impact on the formation of scholarship, particularly in the humanities. On one hand, future Czechoslovak oriental studies had important ties to international scholarship, specifically to German-, French- and English-speaking orientalists; on the other, within regions such as the former Austria-Hungary, history and humanities were confronted with several competing national revivals (and hence national memories and histories), and there was a need to counteract local tendencies towards insularity that might be motivated by narrow nationalism.
The Habsburg Empire, dissolved at the end of 1918, was a substantial if heterogeneous state entity, which included the later modern states of Austria, Hungary and Czechoslovakia, plus parts of Yugoslavia (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina), Italy, Croatia, Poland, Ukraine and Rumania. Its academic centres of Vienna, Budapest, Cracow, Prague and Lemberg (Lviv) included a number of academic positions that embraced not only the study of the ancient Near East including Egypt, but also that of the contemporary ‘Orient’. Throughout the period covered by this book, the study of Egyptology was closely related to that of oriental philology and history.
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