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Chapter Summary

For over a thousand years, Aramaic was used from Egypt to Afghanistan by a wide variety of cultural, ethnic, and religious groups. Among the extant Aramaic material, the most widely attested type of document is the deed of conveyance, a category that includes deeds of sale, gift, and bequeathal. In the ancient Near East, the transfer of property was carried out though an oral exchange of oaths, for which the deed of conveyance acted as an official record. Interest in the origins of Aramaic legal formularies began with the first publications of the Elephantine papyri at the beginning of the 20th century. The cuneiform writing system was used for many different languages-most of which were linguistically unrelated- over a broad chronological and geographic range.

Keywords: Afghanistan; ancient Near East; Aramaic; cuneiform writing; deed of conveyance; Egypt; Elephantine papyri



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