Coordination :
Marie-Pierre Chaufray, chargée de recherche CNRS - Papyrology mail
Haude Morvan, maître de conférences en histoire de l'art médiéval -  Université Bordeaux Montaigne mail 


The Texts, Contexts and Powers research area is the outcome of the merger (June 2017) of the Textual Corpuses and The World Order research areas. It accommodates philological and historical research covering broad chronological and spatial scales from Ancient Greece to the late medieval worlds. It is open to researchers working on even earlier or even later periods, especially with respect to the way the objects of study that compose it are received and dealt with in modern times.
It falls into two complementary sub-areas as shown by the involvement of most researchers in work in one or other of them:

A. For an exploitation of textual sources: establishment, compilation and dissemination

The textual sources in which the members of the research area are interested have been handed down in various media: stone, papyrus, parchment. Each presupposes its own skill set, but that does not mean that philologists, papyrologists and epigraphists coexist without mixing, even if only because the three domains are complementary. For example, part of the textual tradition of Thucydides is on papyrus. Moreover, in all three domains, researchers pursue common objectives by different ways and means.

Establishing sources is the first aim. The philologist endeavours to restore the text of the author in question so it is as near to the original text as possible; the epigraphist and the papyrologist endeavour to transcribe inscriptions overcoming the gaps they are faced with as best they can. When establishing nineteenth-century texts like those of Mérimée on Roman history, genetic editing is called on.

Compiling sources is one of the traditional focus areas of the Ausonius Institute. Bordeaux researchers, often in conjunction with foreign colleagues, publish corpuses and create benchmarks such as PETRAE (Programme d’Enregistrement et de Traitement Automatique en Épigraphie, currently the only base of its kind in France). This part of the research area continues this essential work while adapting to methodological and technological developments. The toolbox has been adjusted to the requirements of today’s computerized methods, where epigraphic texts are encoded under TEI (Text Encoding Initiative) standards, ensuring they can be passed down perpetually.

Disseminating for literary texts generally implies going through a critical collection of reference: the researchers involved in this area work with series of international repute such as “Oxford Classical Texts” (Thucydides), “Collection des Universités de France” (Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Cassius Dio) or “Recueil des historiens de France – obituaires” (Le nécrologe de Saint-Émilion). For epigraphic and papyrological resources, the current systematization of international research requires solutions for easier access to documentation: accordingly computer databases are put on line in formats that all researchers can access. For papyrological sources, unpublished corpuses of administrative and accounting texts of Ptolemaic and Roman times will be the core of programmes designed to make them accessible on line and exploitable for all kinds of quantitative studies. Moreover the software for automatic matching of fragmentary papyri will be developed as part of an ERC project (GESHAEM). In this “Digital Humanities” sector, compiling epigraphs is one of our priorities. Researchers at the Ausonius Institute collaborate with the international scientific community within frameworks defined by the EAGLE (Electronic Archive of Greek and Latin Epigraphy) federation of the Association internationale d’épigraphie grecque et latine (AIEGL), to provide the widest access to ancient epigraphic documents. To this end we are endeavouring to put on line existing PETRAE data from the regions in which the Ausonius Institute has been involved: Aquitaine (ILA collection), the Iberian peninsula (PETRAE Hispaniarum), Africa, Asia Minor (particularly the IOSPE3 programme) and Italy (Volsenna). Documents for the Kingdom of England concerning medieval English Aquitaine (Gascon Rolls programme) have been published and circulated in digital form. 

So in establishing a text, it is essential to take account of its context, whether in the narrow (textual environment) or broad (geographical, historical, social conditions) meaning; compiling and disseminating in a way involve making what were previously isolated texts into mutually illuminating co-texts. This two-fold reciprocating movement connecting text and context is sustained if text and power are articulated together: a text is the product of a given political and social context that it can reflect and construct at one and the same time.

B. Forms, implications and images of power

Establishing, compiling and disseminating texts is not an end in itself. The researchers in this focus area also make a point of establishing a connection between the text and the ruling power. The text is admittedly not a faithful reflection of the exercise of power. When it emanates from the authorities, it conveys a pragmatic dimension: this is the case for instance of official epigraphic inscriptions; historians’ analyses and accounts were themselves guided by their own judgment of power as exercised by the actors of the past they take an interest in, but also by their conception of power as it existed in their own times. This is what the members of the research area try to show by looking at various ancient historians and in particular Thucydides, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Suetonius, Florus, Tacitus and Cassius Dio.

This historiographical exploitation of texts is not confined to delivering up the thinking of their authors. Such documents also make it possible to grasp the social reality of power by analysing the structures of authority and control of ancient and medieval societies, of their configuration and their agents. This implies understanding the nature and workings of relations connecting these structures on different scales (regional, national; connection between the metropolis and the provinces) to the groups and individuals that they control both in their specific relationship with authority and in their economic and social activities, or their religious expression.

Beyond this cross-cutting and not just vertical approach to power, several research themes stand out:

  - rule-making activity and the formation of knowledge and practices specific to power,
  - the processes of territorial division that it generates,
  - the heritage of the state and the ways it is managed and exploited,
  - fiscal organization processes,
  - material and symbolic representations of power,
  - political expressions and representations,
  - forms of administration and control,
  - state violence,
  - protective networks, remedies for wrongs and negotiating channels,
  - the law of nations,
  - forms of resistance, models of integration and acculturation processes.

Our reflections are concerned with everything that touches on the way people, their activities and their minds are organized and express themselves in the vast sphere of power!

Projets en cours

  • Les dynamiques spatiales de la justice et de la mort pénale en Aquitaine médiévale et pré-moderne (2020-2025)  voir
  • Édition critique avec traduction et commentaire de l’Histoire romaine de Cassius Dion  voir
  • Ecrire l'histoire de son temps, de Thucydide à Ammien Marcellin (projet IUF senior) voir
  • Fortins ptolémaïques du désert oriental égyptien  voir
  • The Graeco-Egyptians State: Hellenistic Archives from EgyptianMummies (GESHAEM)  voir
  • DimeData: plateforme éditoriale en ligne des registres comptables du temple de Soknopaios à Dimé (Fayoum) à l’époque romaine   voir
  • Ancient Inscriptions of the Northern Black Sea Region (IOSPE3voir
  • PETRAEvoir
  • Les ILA (Inscriptions Latines d’Aquitaine) voir
  • Patrimonium voir
  • RIIG, Recueil informatisé des inscriptions gauloises. Édition, contexte archéologique, analyse linguistique, étude sociolinguistique voir
  • Des justices et des hommes : peine de mort, gibets et bourreaux en Europe (Moyen Âge - XXe)  voir
  • Édition des obituaires, bullaires et autres sources médiévales d'Aquitaine voir
  • Observer l’Observance voir

Projets passés

  • Fiscalité et politique dans l'Empire romain  voir 
  • Europeana network of Ancient Greek and Latin Epigraphy  voir
  • PETRAE Galliarum  voir
  • Population d'Aquitaine à l'époque gallo-romaine  voir
  • Projet Illyricum  voir
  • Rôles gascons  voir
  • Publication du nécrologe de Saint-Émilion et de l'obituaire de Clairac  voir
  • Justice et fourches patibulaires : lieux d’exécution, d’exposition et d’inhumation des corps des condamnés à mort (Moyen Âge-Époque Moderne)  voir
  • Ressources Arabes Pour l'Archéologie (RAPA)  voir