Adam Burge

The past century has witnessed increasing scholarly interest in education in antiquity. However, despite the existence of papyrological, epigraphical and literary evidence for vocational education in antiquity, scholars have opted to focus chiefly on παιδεία, the literary and non-vocational form of education. Most of the sparse investigation into vocational education examines the nature of labour and law in antiquity, regularly characterising vocational education as a form of child labour, indentured servitude or even slavery. My current project focuses on vocational education in antiquity, and in particular a corpus of 51 apprenticeship contracts, preserved on papyri and ostraca, from Greco-Roman Egypt. The project assesses the prospective social and economic outcomes of children undertaking this type of education. It asserts that vocational education, in this instance, was not simply the exploitation of society's most disadvantaged; rather, it served to promote economic stability and social networking for apprentices from a variety of backgrounds. This project also investigates how the form of education present in these contracts relates to coextensive forms of vocational education across the Hellenistic and early Roman world as well as to non-vocational education, such as the παιδεία system attested in literary and documentary sources from Greco-Roman Egypt.

Personal interests beyond education in antiquity include the history of historiography on the ancient world; social, legal and intellectual history more broadly; slavery in antiquity; and interactions between Greece, Rome, cuneiform cultures and ancient Egypt.