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What's New in Papyrology

This article outlines the administrative geography of Egypt under the Graeco-Macedonian regime and as it evolved over the next millennium. This information comes from papyri and ostraca—sources that differ from the material evidence of archaeological finds yet are not so distant from these as literary evidence often is.

What makes papyrological texts so informative is their being on the same timescale as the actors involved: their speaking, as it were, in everyday words. There are some downsides as well. Mahaffy's observation applies most aptly to the difficulties we encounter when trying to reconstruct the administrative framework of Graeco-Roman Egypt and having to deal with the intricacies of a territory and its management as it evolved over time and under changing regimes.

Keywords: administrative geography , Egypt , archaeological finds , papyrological texts , Mahaffy , Graeco-Macedonian regime. T his chapter outlines the administrative geography of Egypt under the Graeco-Macedonian regime and as it evolved over the next millennium.

This information comes from papyri and ostraca—sources that obviously differ from the material evidence of archaeological finds yet are not so distant from these as literary evidence often is. Mahaffy's observation applies most aptly to the difficulties one encounters when trying to reconstruct the administrative framework of Graeco-Roman Egypt and having to deal with the intricacies of a territory and its management as it evolved conforming to long-established, seemingly timeless patterns over time and under changing regimes in the millennium that concerns us here: Ptolemaic, Roman, and Byzantine.

These districts also varied in size and importance; on the whole, however, and in view of the very long span of time concerned, they remained remarkably stable both as administrative units until the early Byzantine period and even longer as cultural systems Kees ; Helck ; Bagnall , — At its core, each district had a temple dedicated to the principal local divinity e.

Strabo devoted this entire book to Egypt; he was an expert witness, having lived and traveled in Egypt in the 20s bce in the entourage of the first Cornelius Gallus and second Petronius Roman prefects.

Strabo The Fayyum derives its modern name from ancient p. This renaming procedure, however, went little further than nome capitals.

Water was brought into the Fayyum by the Bahr Yusuf, a side branch diverging from the Nile more than three hundred kilometers to the south, on the border with the Thebaid the southernmost part of Egypt, which comprised several nomes. Here Ptolemy I founded and named a city after himself: Ptolemais, as Alexandria was named after the Macedonian conqueror of Egypt. Just as Alexandria founded early in bce on a site the Egyptians called Rhakotis: Fraser , 3—7; Depauw was to counterbalance Memphis in the lower country, Ptolemais could be seen as the Graeco-Macedonian counterpart to Thebes the ancient capital of Upper Egypt and later on a center of stubborn resistance against the foreign rulers.

The Nile and the Bahr Yusuf ran approximately parallel through several nomes: Proceeding downstream, the best attested in papyri include Panopolite, Lykopolite, Hermopolite, Oxyrhynchite, Kynopolite, and Herakleopolite; the Antinoopolite district a small area carved out of the Hermopolite deserves special mention because Antinoopolis was the enduring creation of Hadrian in memory of Antinoos, who drowned in the Nile during the Roman emperor's visit to Egypt ce.

As the Bahr Yusuf flowed into the Fayyumic depression, the Nile followed its northward course across the Aphroditopolite and the Memphite and on to the Delta region, which was also divided into several nomes. Oases in the western desert called Libya were also inhabited: Strabo records that three of these were adjacent to Egypt and pertained administratively to it The eastern desert bore the name of Arabia. There is a remarkable degree of coincidence between the P.

XI invocation of Isis, second century ce. The process by which the foundations of the Ptolemaic administration of Egypt were marked out on a geographical grid was not a straightforward one: It developed gradually and not at the same time even within the same nome.

Particularly in the earliest phase of the Ptolemaic regime, different grids applied to the same territory, depending on the special interests of the administrators, who operated in different spheres: This may perplex modern interpreters of the relevant papyrological material.

An administrative bilingualism took time to develop and refine, and this may well explain some apparent confusion, which is perhaps a reflection of misleading translations from Egyptian the language in which certain functions and titles had been originally conceived into Greek rather than an aspect or problem of the actual administrative practice in early Ptolemaic Egypt. By learning the language p. Ptolemaic control over the southern Aegean was now at risk, and the Seleucid menace loomed large and near in Syria and Phoenicia Bagnall Strict, clear-headed military and economic measures were needed; it is perhaps not a coincidence that a demotic ostracon from Karnak dated between October 27 and November 25, , summing up instructions for a general survey of land Bresciani , ; Burstein ,—n97 , appeared only one year after the Revenue Laws papyrus.

Even if these two documents were not an attempt at fiscal or economic codification Bingen , 3 , they nevertheless presupposed or at least aimed at some kind of standard practice in the surveying of cultivable land and in the farming of taxes, which in turn assumed a well-defined geographical and administrative grid. Different spheres of the Ptolemaic administration may be defined with reference to the following Greek verbal roots:.

On the other hand, the titles of strategos demotic s3trks , in various spellings , hegemon demotic hgmn , and oikonomos demotic 3knwms , in various spellings are as a rule simply transliterated Clarysse , 21—32 : This observation is consistent with the initial predominance of Graeco-Macedonian immigrants in the military and financial spheres.

III , introduction, 68—70 : Various laws, regulations, orders, and instructions emanating from the king nomoi, diagrammata, prostagmata, programmata: Lenger , would originate from here, quite often as a reaction to petitions enteuxeis from his subjects. In this list, the first officials named are the army leaders strategoi , hipparchs, hegemones , who oversaw the military control of the conquered territory, and last mentioned are the archiphylakitai , who were in charge of the day-to-day policing of all economic activities in the nome Thompson b.

Between them are listed the civil officials including those in charge of the oases of western Egypt: the libyarchs , who attended to routine administrative matters. The task of a basilikos grammateus was to write down and keep written records of the facts and figures relating to all of the transactions in the nome; foremost among these were the census by household, oikia , or fiscal category, ethnos: Clarysse and Thompson and the survey of cultivable and cultivated land.

An accurate survey of the land after the Nile flood and of the produce before the harvest was an obvious prerequisite for the working out of the country's fiscal system Verhoogt , The term toparchy toparchia , on the other hand, probably referred to a toparch's managing function toparches , soon to be applied, as it were by metonymy, to the area in which he exercised this authority one or more topoi , or parts thereof.

Significantly, the Egyptian language had no equivalent for this new institution; the word katoikos , therefore, was simply borrowed from Greek and transliterated in demotic characters gtwks , and at least one more variant spelling: Clarysse , Crowning the same move from conquest to occupation of the land, a general strategos came to be at the head of the nome Mooren Thus, the Ptolemaic army controlled and shaped the administrative system, which was in fact mapped onto the Egyptian land, resulting in a kind of cadastral reference system that lasted into the Roman period.

This is what Strabo may have meant when he wrote that the smallest administrative divisions in the nome merides were the arourai The apportionment of land to new settlers and afterward the organization of land cultivation cannot have been immune to at least potential tensions with the preexisting organization of the Egyptian territory.

II 42, where they appear together, along with various other officials; it is further confirmed by the fact that the Ghoran cartonnage papyri concerning a muriarouros originate from the archives of nomarchai Falivene Assuming that there was traditionally and possibly still in the earliest stages of the Ptolemaic administration just one nomarches in a nome, in time two changes apparently affected this official.

On the one hand, a general of the invading army a strategos was put at the head of the nome; in addition, the nomarch's authority was reduced by dividing it among several p.

Meridarchai are in fact attested for the Herakleopolite nome by several documents dating from the first century bce , including BGU XIV ; of the three meridarchai referred to in this document, at least one was responsible for more than one toparchy Brashear , This shows that at the time the Herakleopolite was divided into merides and these in turn into toparchies , just like the Arsinoites, where the three merides of Herakleides, Polemon, and Themistos are attested beginning in the third century bce.

Some relatively late attestations for nomarchs in the Arsinoite district dating from the s bce ; Clarysse , 72—76 may be accounted for by supposing that the smaller, therefore more numerous, merides of the nomarchs were incorporated into three, gradually larger divisions not all at once but rather one nomarch at a time, insofar as each nomarch's task within the overall reclamation and resettlement plan of the Fayyum see Thompson a , b was completed. Harimouthes, an Egyptian nomarch attested in the lower i.

I 85, of bce and reappearing in P. I 44 of bce in the position of toparch of the same toparchy, may be a case in point: While his job description remained apparently much the same, the shift in terminology may reflect a change in the administrative hierarchical structure; perhaps Harimouthes now had a superior, a meridarches at the head of a newly instituted meris that embraced more than one toparchy, and was thus made redundant as a nomarch.

A process of this kind may explain the overlap Clarysse between nomarchs and toparchs in the Fayyum in the s. The possibility for a nomarch or a toparch to function in each other's place is in fact explicitly stated in P. Once more, nomarch and toparch or just one of them may be present—or indeed both may be absent, in which case their superior, the oikonomos, will act in their place; ideally if theoretically , all three should preside on the assessment of the crops.

Even though there were Egyptians among the nomarchs Pathembris and Horos are attested among the seven officials with this title in SB XXIV , by the end of the process of reclamation and resettlement all three divisions of the p. Indeed, the very title nomarches vanishes from our documents. Again see table They could also operate as a company, consisting of a chief farmer archones and his associates metochoi. It was possible to farm one or more taxes for one or more districts.

Trapezai were farmed out Bogaert The underlying principle but not the scale and scope of activity, of course was the same as that applied in the farming out of the exclusive trading license i. With the right, however, came the obligation to buy and sell fixed quantities at fixed prices.

The specification of prices is the focus of the Revenue Laws papyrus insofar as these texts represent an application of the law, not the laws themselves. As for expected quantities, these were established on the basis of a preliminary assessment of the produce.

The nomarch and the toparch, though liable for the fine for incorrect land assessment, are conspicuously absent during the second produce assessment, which tells us something about the limitations of their authority. They would apportion land to cultivators and designate it for the production of certain crops, and they were responsible for the results of these undertakings; in fact, they acted as the interface between the cultivators and the other parties, whether contractors or officials other than themselves, but they had no part in the evaluation of prospective produce, not to mention the fixing of prices for the various crops; in short, the nomarch and the toparch had no say in the financial decisions.

The same pattern applied at village level: Here only the komarch could allow the produce to leave the village, but only after the contractors had given him a sealed receipt that listed what they had bought from each cultivator P. The komarch controlled the transactions between the cultivator and the contractor and ensured that the produce was sold by the cultivators to the contractors and to nobody else; he also made certain that the contractors paid the prescribed amount to the cultivators.

But just how much produce was to be obtained and sold and at what prices was for others the oikonomos and the antigrapheus , upon agreement with the contractor and the cultivator to decide.

This class comprised not just the contractors but also the cultivators georgoi , who were not actually workers of the land the ancient counterpart of the fellahin but rather p. Whether this sophisticated system was a viable one and how long it lasted are different issues: It could evidently work only as long as the middlemen found it advantageous. A well-known document P. III ; transl. Austin , , no. For everyone who lives in the country must clearly know and believe that all such acts have come to an end and that they have been delivered from the previous bad state of affairs.

Nomes were sometimes split, leading to the creation or reestablishment of smaller districts: The Koite and Neilopolite, for instance, were at different times late Ptolemaic and early Roman period, respectively carved out of the southern and the northern Herakleopolite, respectively. The Antinoopolite was created by Hadrian.

Between and ce the three divisions of the Arsinoite nome were reduced to two, those of Themistos and Polemon being under the same strategos and the meris of Herakleides under a different one this arrangement lasted for about a century; thereafter, the whole Arsinoite was again under one strategos; Bastianini-Whitehorne , 46— But despite these changes, the administrative map of Egypt—the articulation of the land into nomes, merides, toparchies, and villages, as well as the titles of the officials in charge of their administration—remained basically stable under Roman rule.

Beneath the appearance of continuity, however, important shifts in authority led to a redistribution of responsibility and power among old and new officials—first among these was the emperor's deputy, praefectus Alexandreae et Aegypti Bowman , 65—68 —and, at a more fundamental level, among the various components of the population of Egypt. As the dekaprotoi operated at the toparchy level, the topogrammateis must also have become redundant latest dated attestation: P. The limited number of dekaprotoi , combined with the heavy burden that went with their office, explains the rule of collegial responsibility for these officers, who were to operate by toparchy in boards of at least two toparchies were paired off so that a team of at least four dekaprotoi was in charge at any one time; Bagnall The same principle of collegial responsibility apparently applied to toparchs and komarchs as well Vitelli on P.

I 2, ce ; see also Oertel , Some rearrangement of the toparchies discussed later must also have occurred in this reorganization. The process that led to the creation of the new geographical and administrative grid by pagi may be summed up as follows.

Second, the creation in the third century ce of the office of the dekaprotoi whose area of responsibility was defined by toparchies must have reinforced and stabilized the new grid of numbered toparchies.

Third, at the beginning of the fourth century, as the dekaprotoi were being phased out, pagi became the new administrative unit, possibly overlapping the numbered toparchies, as distinguished from the older ones those named after a village or with reference to either their location in the nome or some other special characteristic of their territory ; this is suggested by the occasional interchangeability of the terms pagus and toparchia in certain fourth-century documents Sijpesteijn and Worp , 9—10 ; it also goes a long way toward explaining the often-observed discrepancies between the number of old toparchies and of pagi in the Oxyrhynchite Pruneti , Hermopolite Sheridan , — , and Arsinoite nomes Derda The very existence of the nomes as administrative units was curtailed as a result of the introduction of the pagi.

This division was a lasting one and was carried over in the several successive attempts—throughout the fourth century and down to Justinian's Edict XIII ca. The inauguration of the new fifteen-year tax cycles in which each year was called an indiction , which reckoned retrospectively from the year , tallied with p. The church promptly affirmed itself as an alternative source of authority; it was within the much-divided Church of Egypt that the conflict between Alexandria and Constantinople acted itself out Haas ; Heinen The foundation of Constantinople formally celebrated on May 11, at the same time undermined Alexandria's position as the principal city of the Greek-speaking east and reoriented Egypt eastward.

Since this function pagarchia was apparently attested before the officer who exercised it Mazza , one may suppose that the praepositus pagi , having lost control of too large a part of his pagus , was superseded by a new official, the pagarch Rouillard , 52—62 , who also took on what had been a komarch 's responsibilities.

Arab pagarchs are attested well into the eighth century ce , when they are found addressing, still in Greek, the local communities Gonis The new conquerors—as Alexander and the early Ptolemies had been—were well aware of the importance of avoiding a breakdown of the administration Rouillard , ; Grohmann , 33—34; Christides if they were to consolidate their occupation of the Egyptian land.

Austin, M.

Egyptology Books and Articles in PDF online

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Proceedings of the 28th Congress of Papyrology - 2016 August 1-6 Barcelona, Barcelona 2019

Thousands of texts, written over a period of three thousand years on papyri and potsherds, in Egyptian, Greek, Latin, Aramaic, Hebrew, Persian, and other languages, have transformed our knowledge of many aspects of life in the ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern worlds. This book provides an introduction to the world of these ancient documents and literary texts, ranging from the raw materials of writing to the languages used, from the history of papyrology to its future, and from practical help in reading papyri to frank opinions about the nature of the work of papyrologists. It takes account of the important changes experienced by the discipline, especially within the last thirty years.

Egyptology Books and Articles in PDF online Most recent update 12 February ; moved to present location August Number of records This page aims to collect as many books and articles as possible on Egyptological subjects which are freely accessible to anyone without the need for privileged access. Sites that require institutional access or a password are not included—-thus journals only available on JSTOR and papers available on www. Some articles and books are available at more than one location, and I have tried to give all the options.

This article outlines the administrative geography of Egypt under the Graeco-Macedonian regime and as it evolved over the next millennium. This information comes from papyri and ostraca—sources that differ from the material evidence of archaeological finds yet are not so distant from these as literary evidence often is.

Edited by Roger S. Bagnall

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Egyptology Books and Articles in PDF online

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The Oxford handbook of papyrology

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Maria Rosaria Falivene is Associate Professor of Papyrology, Faculty of Letters and Philosophy, University of Rome Tor Vergata. Access to the complete content​.

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