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Most of the everyday writing from the ancient world - that is, informal writing not intended for a long life or wide public distribution - has perished. Reinterpreting the silences and blanks of the historical record, leading papyrologist Roger S. Bagnall convincingly argues that ordinary people - from Britain to Egypt to Afghanistan - used writing in their daily lives far more extensively than has been recognized. Marshalling new and little-known evidence, including remarkable graffiti recently discovered in Smyrna, Bagnall presents a fascinating analysis of writing in different segments of society. His book offers a new picture of literacy in the ancient world in which Aramaic rivals Greek and Latin as a great international language, and in which many other local languages develop means of written expression alongside these metropolitan tongues.