Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund (47.218.90)

Spaces separate the words in texts written in the square Aramaic script, which the Jewish exiles adopted during the Babylonian Exile and brought back to their homeland when they returned, beginning in 538 B.C. Typically the separating space is about the width of a narrow letter, as can be seen in this papyrus, one of a group of fifth-century B.C. papyri found on Elephantine, an island in the Nile, in Upper Egypt. These papyri consist mostly of legal texts and letters, largely from the archives of two families in an Aramaic-speaking Jewish colony. This community lived on Elephantine approximately between the sixth century B.C. and 399 B.C., at which time they were probably removed by the Egyptian ruler Nepherites.