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In the 1970s, when Sven Vleeming was embarking on his professional career, Demotic Studies were starting to emerge from their ‘dark ages’, but they were still the poor relation of mainstream Egyptology and did not come anywhere near to the professionalism of Greek papyrology. One of the principal reasons why this lamentable situation has now changed so dramatically is due to the endeavours of the remarkable scholar to whom this volume is dedicated – Sven Peter Vleeming.

Today Demotic has at its disposal most of the basic tools that Greek papyrology has enjoyed for generations, which, as Sven himself wrote in 1997, ‘makes Greek papyrology a modern discipline since about the first world war, as opposed to Egyptology which is hopelessly old-fashioned to this day’. The existence of two of these tools – the Berichtigungsliste and the Demotic equivalent to the Sammelbuch (Short Texts 1–3) – is thanks to the painstaking effort that Sven has devoted throughout his career to gathering together, commenting on and indexing Demotic texts that are dispersed across hundreds of publications – from Festschrifts to periodicals to excavation reports, and so on. Not just Demotists, but also papyrologists and the whole Egyptological community who work with these books marvel at their depth and richness of detail, as well as the incredible amount of time and energy devoted to achieving perfection.

The details of his career can be summarised as follows. Sven studied Egyptology, General Linguistics and Comparative Semitic at Leiden University between 1970–1977, where he was one of the founders of the Leiden ‘Egyptologisch Dispuut Pleyte’. Afterwards, he was appointed to University Lecturer at the Leiden Papyrological Institute (1977–1986) and then Senior University Lecturer (1986–1996). In 1996 he moved to Trier University as Professor of Egyptology, where he has worked until his retirement in 2017. Of his many travels and stays abroad one should also mention the year he spent in Paris in 1989 at the ephe iv and the Louvre.

Sven’s great interest in Early Demotic and Cursive/Abnormal Hieratic is reflected in a number of his early publications and in particular his dissertation Papyrus Reinhardt: An Egyptian Land List from the Tenth Century BC, which was supervised by J.J. Janssen and P.W. Pestman, and for which he received his doctorate in Leiden in 1983 (published in 1993). His influence here continues to this day, in particular in the revival of the study of Cursive/Abnormal Hieratic as a Leiden tradition. His versatility and sheer breadth of knowledge seems unsurpassed, especially, but not exclusively, in the field of Demotic, to which he has contributed multiple seminal publications in the rightly famous series Studia Demotica, which he co-founded in the 1980s together with Pestman, Clarysse and Quaegebeur. The catalogue of this series includes works such as The Gooseherds of Hou (1991), A Berichtigungsliste of Demotic Documents (2005, with A.A. den Brinker and B. Muhs, and 2013, with I. Hartmann) and – to date – three volumes of his Short Texts (2001, 2011 and 2015).

His students have fond memories of him as a teacher – ‘he was a wonderful mentor’ – never just teaching Demotic, but equally inspiring his students with a love for Demotic. He was also a most able administrator and a kind and considerate director. At Trier University he diligently transformed the old ‘Magister’-system to a ba and ma system for Egyptology – a far from easy task. His interests outside Demotic are many and varied. His love of books, printing and typography is reflected in his own printing press and editorial office and in the series of precious hand-set and hand-printed booklets he has made for his friends and colleagues over the years. We have included as many of these titles as we could trace in the bibliography below (pp. xii–xiv). He also was an avid follower of the Tour de France, which he used to listen to on his transistor radio in the Institute in Leiden (the only occasion on which he allowed the outside world to interfere with his Demotic research in working hours).

One booklet in particular deserves special mention, because it also highlights Sven’s great humour. ‘Papyrus-fragment met eponyme priesteres’ was possibly his first attempt with his home printing press. It is dated 1980 and contains the edition of a papyrus fragment, with a nice handcopy, mentioning a priestess ‘Griet’, which was the name of the co-author (with Clarysse) of The Eponymous Priests of Ptolemaic Egypt. This was intended as a goodbye present for her. The papyrus was called P. Clarysse 1980.23 and Sven underlined the importance of this ‘find’, the oldest example of the Flemish language (!!). As a number of colleagues have pointed out to us, he was always good for a joke or funny comment (even when he did not say anything, you could tell from his face and eyes that he was pretty amused by something that was happening).

In his home in Trier, where he lives with his papyrologist wife, Ruth, and son Klaus-Jakob, alongside his extraordinary Egyptological and papyrological library (which would be the envy of many institutional libraries), there is also a very extensive collection of classical English novels, all clearly well-read. In the years ahead this may well expand but not, we hope, to the detriment of his Short Texts publications, the next volume of which is already well advanced.

In preparing this Festschrift, we have benefited from the help and kind words of a number of colleagues. In particular we would like to thank Willy Clarysse (Leuven), Martina Minas-Nerpal (Swansea), Holger Kockelmann (Tübingen), as well as of course all the other authors who have contributed to this volume, and the Brill staff for publishing and typesetting this difficult book.

In this collection of articles and text publications by his friends and colleagues, we have numbered sequentially all the editions for ease of future reference. We hope that Sven will appreciate this!

Please join with us in wishing Sven a long and fruitful retirement.

Summer 2017

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Hieratic, Demotic and Greek Studies and Text Editions

Of Making Many Books There Is No End: Festschrift in Honour of Sven P. Vleeming

Series:  Papyrologica Lugduno-Batava, Volume: 34


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