P. Cair. Zen.  I 59021                                                                                       258

Demetrios, probably head of the royal mint in Alexandria, writes to Apollonios the dioiketes about problems in the application of a recent royal decree ordering all gold (and perhaps silver, although this is not clear) coinage to be brought in and reminted. With standard gold Ptolemaic coinage there was apparently no problem, but the majority of the money brought in from outside Egypt could not be reminted; the reason, unfortunately, lies in a damaged passage that has been variously interpreted. Demetrios repeatedly speaks of a lack of person authorized to accept the money, suggesting that it was a lack of means for assaying foreign money or badly worn currency which could not be accepted at face value. The decree evidently treats the new currency as the only legitimate one for internal use, thus rendering it difficult to use the old money and practically paralyzing trade. Demetrios emphasizes the Ptolemies' need to import a maximum amount of gold to keep the currency sound.

To Apollonios greeting from Demetrios. If you are in good health and your affairs are to your mind, it is well. As for me, I am attending to the work as you wrote to me to do, and I have received in gold 57,000 pieces, which I minted and returned. We might have received many times as much, but as I wrote to you once before, the foreigners who come here by sea and the merchants and middlemen and others bring both their local money of unalloyed metal and the gold pentadrachms, to be made into new money for them in accordance with the decree which orders us to receive and remint, but as Philaretos (?) does not allow me to accept, not knowing to whom we can appeal on this subject we are compelled not to accept - - - ; and the men grumble because their gold is not accepted either by the banks or by us for. . ., nor are they able to send it into the country to buy goods, but their gold, they say, is lying idle and they are suffering no little loss, having sent for it from abroad and being unable to dispose of it easily to other persons even at a reduced price. Again, all the residents in the city find it difficult to make use of their worn gold. For none of them knows to what authority he can refer and on paying something extra receive in exchange either good gold or silver. Now things being as they are at present, I see that the revenues of the king are also suffering no little damage. I have therefore written these remarks to you in order that you may be informed and, if you think fit, write to the king about the matter and tell me to whom I am to refer on this subject. For I take it to be an advantage if as much gold as possible be imported from abroad and the king's coinage be always good and new without any expense falling on him. Now as regards the way in which certain persons are treating me it is as well not to write, but as soon as you arrive you will hear ---. And write to me about these matters so that I may act accordingly. Farewell. Year 28, Gorpiaios 15. (Address) To Apollonios. (Docket) From Demetrios.


Translation modified from Sel.Pap. 409. See on the interpretation G. Le Rider, JSav 1986, 49-51; H.-D. Richter, Tyche 7 (1992) 177-186. We do not accept Richter’s view that uncoined gold is at stake; the entire emphasis of the document is on the inability of the foreigners to use either their existing money or new currency.

Local money: From their home cities.


P. Tebt. III 703                                                                    Late Third Century (after 209?)

This papyrus is a copy of a long memorandum evidently written by the dioiketes, outlining the duties of an official who can only be the oikonomos. These consist primarily of the supervision of crops and of the royal monopolies and revenues, in dealing with which the oikonomos is to cooperate with other officials and above all to safeguard the crown from loss. It is evident that this is the copy given to one oikonomos of what was a standard text for junior bureaucrats; Rostovtzeff (in his introduction to the papyrus) traces older Egyptian parallels in the Middle and New Kingdoms, particularly in the Eighteenth Dynasty. The remarks are general; they do not cover all aspects of the competence of the oikonomos, and certainly they have no specific reference to the conditions in the Arsinoite Nome where the papyrus was found.

The date of the papyrus is uncertain; references in the latter part suggest a period of civil disturbance probably connected with a war in the not too distant past (and, indeed, vague as these are, they give the only specific context for the document). A possible reading of the name of the dioiketes in a fragmentary passage has led recently to a dating in the last decade of the third century. On this text see Cl. Préaux, L’économie royale des Lagides, passim; A.E. Samuel in Studi in onore di E. Volterra II (Roma 1969) 451-60; and W. Huss, APF 27 (1980) 67-77..

(Canals) [You must inspect] ... and the water-conduits which run through the fields and from which the peasants are accustomed to lead water on the land cultivated by each of them, and see whether the water-intakes into them have the prescribed depth and whether there is sufficient room in them; and similarly the said cuttings from which the intakes pass into the above-mentioned conduits, whether they have been made strong and the entries into them from the river are thoroughly cleaned and whether in general they are in a sound state.

(Protection of cultivators) In your tours of inspection try in going from place to place to cheer everybody up and to put them in better heart; and not only should you do this by words but also, if any of them complain of the komogrammateus or the komarchs about any matter touching agricultural work, you should make inquiry and put a stop to such doings as far as possible.

(Inspection of crops) When the sowing has been completed it would be no bad thing if you were to make a careful round of inspection; for thus you

will get an accurate view of the sprouting of the crops and will easily notice the lands which are badly sown or are not sown at all, and you will thus know those who have neglected their duty and will become aware [if any] have used the seed for other purposes.

(Sowing of crops) You must regard it as one of your most indispensable duties to see that the nome be sown with the kinds of crops prescribed by the sowing schedule.

And if there be any who are hard pressed by their rents or are completely exhausted, you must not leave it unexamined.

(Registration of cattle) Make a list of the cattle employed in cultivation, both the royal and the private, and take the utmost possible care that the progeny of the royal cattle, when old enough to eat hay, be consigned to the calf-byres.

(Transportation) Take care that the grain in the nomes, with the exception of that expended on the spot for seed and of that which cannot be transported by water, be brought down"' - - - It will thus be [easy] to load the grain on the first [ships] presenting themselves; and devote yourself to such business in no cursory fashion - - - Take care also that the prescribed supplies of grain, of which I send you a list, are brought down to Alexandria punctually, not only correct in amount but also tested and fit for use.

(Weaving) Visit also the weaving houses"' in which the linen is woven, and do your utmost to have the largest possible number of looms in operation, the weavers supplying the full amount of embroidered stuffs prescribed for the nome. If any of them are in arrears with the pieces ordered, let the prices fixed by the ordinance for each kind be exacted from them. Take special care, too, that the linen is good and has the prescribed number of weft-threads. Visit also the washing-houses where the flax is washed and the --- Make a list, and report so that there may always be a supply of castor-oil and natron for washing. [Book?] always the monthly quantity [of pieces of linen] in the actual month and the quantity [of the next month] in the next, in order that the [corresponding amounts may be apportioned (?)] to the accounts of the revenues and the contractors. If there is any surplus over what is booked in the first month, let the surplus be booked in the next month as part of the monthly quantity. Let all the looms which are idle be transported to the metropolis of the nome, deposited in the store-house, and sealed up.

(Auditing accounts) Audit the revenue accounts, if possible, village by village - and we think it not to be impossible, if you devote yourself zealously to the business - if not, by toparchies, passing in the audit nothing but payments to the bank in the case of money taxes, and in the case of grain dues or oil-bearing produce, only deliveries to the sitologoi. If there be any deficit in these, compel the toparchs and the tax-farmers to pay into the banks, for the arrears in grain the values assigned in the ordinances, for those in oil-bearing produce according to the liquid product for each kind.

(Oil production) It behoves you to bestow care on all the points mentioned in the memorandum, but especially those which refer to the oil-factories. For if you duly give heed to them you will increase not a little the sale in the nome, and the thefts will be stopped. This you would achieve by scrutinizing on each occasion the local factories and the store-houses for the produce both dry and liquid, and by sealing them. Be sure that the amounts delivered to the oil-makers do not exceed what is about to be used in the presses which exist in the factories. Take pains to let all the oil-presses be in operation if possible; or if not, most of them, and keep as close a watch as you can on the rest. --- The supernumerary implements of those presses which are not in operation must be collected and sealed up in the storehouses. If you are [neglectful (?)] in this... be sure that besides the payments... you will fall into no ordinary contempt, which you will not be able easily to remove. If you neglect your duty as regards this, [your honor will in no way increase].

(pasturage) Since the revenue from the pasturage dues,"' too, is one of the most important, it will most readily be increased if you carry out the registration (of cattle) in the best possible way. The most favorable season for one so engaged is about the month of Mesore; for the [whole] country in this month being covered with water, it happens that cattle-breeders send their flocks to the highest places, being unable to scatter them on other places.

(Retail prices) See to it, too, that the goods for sale be not sold at prices higher than those prescribed. Make also a careful investigation of those goods which have no fixed prices and on which the dealers may put what prices they like; and after having put a fair markup on the wares being sold, make the dealers dispose of them. 236

(Calf-raising) Take care to inspect the calf-byres also, and do your best to ensure that the grain be supplied in them until the time of the green food, and the quantity prescribed daily be used for the calves, and that the grain be delivered regularly in full, both that from the locality and, if they need in addition an imported supply, from other villages as well.

(Trees and wood) Take care also that the planting of the native trees, in the case of  willows and sycamore trees, be carried out at the right time, when these trees are in season, and that of acacia-trees and tamarisks about the month of Choiak. Of these some are to be planted on the royal embankments, and the rest must be planted in beds in order to have all possible attention during the [time] of watering, and as soon as it is necessary and the proper time for planting arrives, then let them be transplanted and set on the royal embankments. The guarding of them must be done by the contractors in order that the plants suffer no damage from sheep or any other cause. In your further tours of inspection notice also whether any cut trees are left on the embankments or in the fields and make a list of them.

(Houses and gardens) Make also a list of the royal houses and the gardens belonging to them, stating what attention each one of these requires, and report to us.

(Deserting soldiers and sailors) Take care, too, that the matter of the native soldiers be arranged according to the memorandum which we compiled on the men who absconded from their work and the... sailors, in order that... (all?) those men who fall into your hands may be kept together until they are sent to Alexandria.

(Honesty and security) Take particular care that no peculation or any other wrong takes place. For everyone resident in the country must clearly understand and believe that all acts of this kind have been stopped and that they are freed from the bad conditions of the past, no one having a right to do what he likes, but everything being managed in the best way; you will (thus) make the countryside secure and [will increase) the revenue in no small measure.

(Correspondence) Now to comprise everything and to deliver it to you in memoranda is not easy, owing to the variety of circumstances in consequence of the present situation. Be careful to see that nothing of what I have ordered in my memorandum is neglected, as far as possible, and likewise inform me concerning contingencies, in order that... for since all our business is necessarily conducted by correspondence. . . you should arrange for them to write about each of the injunctions sent, if possible --otherwise, certifying the reasons, in order that - - - and that nothing of what has been specified be neglected ---. If you act thus, you will fulfill your official duty and your own safety will be assured.

(General advice) But enough now on this subject. I thought it well to write down for you in this memorandum what I told you in sending you to the nome. I considered that your prime duty is to act with peculiar care, honestly, and in the best possible way - - - ; and your next duty is to behave well and be upright in your district, to keep clear of bad company, to avoid all base collusion, to believe that, if you are without reproach in this, you will be held deserving of higher functions, to keep the instructions in your hand, and to report on everything as has been ordered.


On the date, see P.Köln VI, pp. 161-62.

Protection of cultivators: The constant emphasis in Ptolemaic bureaucracy on the checking of one official by another is clearly shown here.

Sowing schedule: See below, 87.

Transportation: “be brought down”: to the river from the parts of the nome more distant from it.

Weaving: Like oil-making (see  95) this was a royal monopoly, in which the crown purchased the raw materials at a set rate and apportioned them to royal workshops for manufacture, the whole being underwritten by contractors.

Pasturage: The dues were paid by the head; hence the importance of an accurate census.

Retail prices: Emendations of M. David, B. van Groningen and E.P. Wegener have been incorporated into this paragraph and the next; cf. BL 3.244.

Trees and wood: Wood is very scarce in Egypt, which lacks forests of trees usable for building material and which has for thousands of years imported its lumber. On this section see B. Kramer, ZPE 97 (1993) 135-37.

Deserters: Cf. 103 below for sanctions about deserters from the military as early as the middle of the third century.


SB XVIII 13881                                                                                        256

The massive works aimed at controlling the inflow of water into the Fayyum, its distribution, and its drainage, required more than just the digging of canals and the heaping-up of dikes. Major control-points required stone construction. The later successors of these constructions can be seen today where the Bahr Yussef enters the Fayyum and at points where canals divide. In this letter-petition, the foremen of some stonecutters complain that they are having to work only on the hard stone, while other quarry workers get to cut all the soft stone. The letter dates near the beginning of the period of the irrigation works.

To Kleon the architect, greetings from the dekatarchoi of the quarry-men from the landing place. We are being wronged by Apollonios the superintendent, who has set us to work on the hard stone, not dividing it between us and the others, while he has assigned his own men the soft stone. As it is, we are being ruined by wearing out the edges of our tools. We beg you, so that we may obtain our rights, to measure out how much extra hard stone we have cut, so that it may be imposed in addition on the 140 quarry-men and we may not be oppressed. Farewell. (Address) To Kleon. (Docket) The dekatarchoi from the landing-place.


Dekatarchoi: foremen of groups of stone-cutters.


P.Lille 1                                                                                                                      259

This remarkable papyrus describes a square of land in the Arsinoite Nome designated for extensive reclamation works. There were already some dikes, canals and cultivators, but it is proposed here to rework entirely the area with a grid plan of dikes and canals. On these 10,000-aroura estates see L. Criscuolo, Aegyptus 57 (1977) 109-22; she rejects Rostovtzeff’s thesis that the papyrus concerns Apollonios' estate around Philadelphia. The text is reedited as Pap.Lugd.Bat. XX, App. A, with detailed commentary and returning to the view that the estate in question is that of Apollonios.

Stothoetis, . . . , to Apollonios. Year 27 and the same by Egyptian (reckoning), in the month of Phaophi... Diodoros countersigning.

[insert diagram here]

The perimeter of the ten thousand arouras is 400 schoinia, there are 4 dikes, and in the middle (running from South to North) will be 3 dikes at a distance of 25 schoinia from each other, and 9 others running cross-ways from East to West, ten schoinia distant from each other; in the 10,000 arouras (there are) 40 dike-enclosed basins of 250 arouras each, whose measurements are 25 by 10 (schoinia); the total number of dikes is 16, each 100 schoinia in length, for a total of 1600, which need to be excavated.

The width of the ditch (is to be) 4 cubits, the depth 2, for we suppose that a ditch of this size will give dikes of the stated size; the total per schoinion is thus 86 naubia, and for the 1600 (schoinia) 137,600 naubia. And it is necessary for another four water-channels to be made in addition to the four existing ones, at 100 schoinia each, a total of 400 schoinia, at 86 (naubia) a total of 34,000, or a grand total of 172,000 (naubia).

If the works are carried to completion during the winter, we estimate that it will be done at the rate of 70 (naubia) to the stater, so that makes I talent 3834 dr. 1 dr. per aroura is added for . . . If instead the works are not completed before the harvest, they will be completed at the rate of 50 (naubia per stater), that is, 2 tal. 1760 dr., that is, 1 dr. 2 1/4 ob. per aroura.

And for the sloping areas it will be necessary to add the difference from the neighboring dikes. This will be on the lease-contract, when we know the amount of earth and the length of the schoinion in those parts. Some such places will be in a depression, so that only 1000 arouras are surrounded with dikes at one time by the relief of the land itself; for these the expense  will be lower, so that it will balance extra work.

As for the pre-existing dikes, (the cost of) as many as are usable by the cultivators  will be deducted from the sums due to them. They shall adapt the existing dikes so that nothing of them shall be left unused. Likewise of the ditches that exist in the subdivision, if they are in a suitable position for the dikes.

As for the expenses toward the pre-existent canals and dikes, which are customarily repaired annually, it will be necessary to go and inspect them with the engineers and the basilikoi grammateis and after registering them, provide (the expenses), for some. . .

Later, after inspecting the enclosure dike he has decided to make his dikes the width of the ditch, that is, 3 naubia instead of 4, that is a total of 64 1/2 (naubia) to the schoinion, for 4 dr. per 60 (naubia).

Apollonios left the 7th of Hathyr, and I sailed back with him as far as Phylake and disembarked there, and on the 8th I came to Touphis, on the 9th to Syron Kome, on the 10th to Ptolemais, on the 11th to the Labyrinth, and there I found the secretaries, and they took the letter and I departed for the city.


Plan: The plan and directions on it are in the papyrus, but the dimensions are editorial additions.

Cost of 1 tal. 3834 dr.: This total is not quite accurate: 1 tal. 3828, 3 1/3 ob. is the right amount.

Before the harvest: Labor would be much cheaper in the off-season.

1 dr. 2 ½ ob. per aroura: It is not clear what the reference is, whether to the cost of the work just mentioned or to another figure like that for damage (if that is correct) above.

He has decided:  Apollonios, no doubt.

I sailed:  The author is evidently Diodoros, known elsewhere to have been Apollonios' director of construction on this project during these years.


P. Yale I 36                                                                                                      190

Each year after it was possible to gauge the inundation of the Nile the bureaucracy compiled a detailed schedule of what crops were to be sown on what land after the water receded. Acting on general instructions from the central administration, the officials at the levels first of the village, then the district, then the nome, compiled a detailed schedule, which was sent to Alexandria for revision and approval before being sent back to the local officials for implementation. The process is discussed by P. Vidal-Naquet,  Le Bordereau d’ensemencement dans l’Egypte ptolémaïque (Pap. Brux. 5: Bruxelles 1967) and H. Cuvigny, L’arpentage par espèces.

Apollonios to Leon, greeting. A copy of the letter from Athenodoros, the dioiketes, is appended for you below. Accordingly, having prepared the sowing schedule with the usual persons in compliance with the instructions, hold it in readiness, so that we may personally hand it over to Leukippos, the chief of police, before the stipulated time; knowing that if a delay occurs, you will be sent down to the dioiketes. Farewell. Year 15, Mesore M

Athenodoros to Apollonios, greeting, Concerning the sowing schedule of the [ ... J land for the 16th year, having prepared it with the [ ... ] grammateus"111 and the other customary persons, send it by all means sooner, but at the latest by the. . . of Mesore, (arranged) by cultivator and by village and in summary, to Leukippos, the chief of police. For we have instructed him, whenever up to this date you give him the documents, to send them off to the city to us, sending along with them persons who will bring them back. Year 15, Epeiph. .

(Address) To Leon. (Docket) Year 15, Mesore 9. Apollonios, copy of the letter from Athenodoros the dioiketes, concerning the sowing schedule for for the 16th year.


For the date of the archive of Leon, see P.Köln V, p. 166.

Prepared … with the grammateus: The bureau of the basilikos grammateus, which kept the official records, took part in the making of the schedule. It is not certain whether the basilikos grammateus himself or one of his subordinates (topogrammateus, komogrammateus) is here meant.


P. Hib.  I 85                                                                                                  261

The government officials issued each year at sowing time the proper amount of seed for sowing the royal peasant's field with the crops required in the Sowing Schedule, in the form of a loan to be repaid from the harvest. In effect, the state kept custody of the seed, preventing the farmers from eating it in bad times and so assuring an orderly planting of the necessary crops

In the reign of Ptolemy son of Ptolemy and his son Ptolemy, year 24, the priest of Alexander and the Brother and Sister Gods being Aristonikos son of Perilaos, the canephore of Arsinoe Philadelphos being Charea daughter of Apios, in the month of Mesore. Pasis, son of. . ., priest, has received from Paris son of Sisybaios, agent of Harimouthes the nomarch from the lower toparchy,  as seed for the 25th year, being included in the lists of receipts and expenditures, for the royal holding of Philoxenos of the (troop) of Telestes 40 artabas of wheat, 38 1/3 of barley which are equivalent to 23 of wheat, and 67 1/2 of olyra which are equivalent to 27 of wheat, making a total of 90 artabas of wheat, in grain pure and unadulterated in any way, according to just measurement by the 29-choinix measure on the bronze standard. Pasis shall deliver at the royal granaries in the 25th year the rent of the land for which he has received the seed, in accordance with the terms of the lease, in full, making no deduction for unwatered land; and he shall return the seed, which he has received, before the rent, from the new crops.

(Signed in Demotic) I, P ... son of. . ., have received the stock above



Lower toparchy:  Of the Oxyrhynchite Nome, showing again the flexibility of the area to which a nomarch might be assigned.

Philoxenos:  This holding had probably been reclaimed by the crown but was still known by the name of its former cleruch.


P. Enteux. 60                                                                                                         218

Royal officials had to solve many problems concerned with keeping the land in good condition both before and after sowing, in order that the crops might be produced as in the schedule. Here a lessee complains that neighbors have ruined his crop by flooding his land with water accidentally discharged from a holding basin, of the sort used to retain some of the Nile's flood waters for later purposes of irrigation.

To King Ptolemy greeting from Idomeneus, one of the farmers from the gift-estate of Chrysermos, from the village of Kaminoi. I am wronged by Petobastis son of Taos and Horos son of Kelesis, from the same village. For after I leased two arouras from the gift estate of Chrysermos and sowed the land with arakos the aforementioned Petobastis and Horos flooded my sown field, so that my arakos became lost and I cannot even pay the expenses I have accrued on the land. I beg of you therefore, O king, if it seems right to you, to order Diophanes the strategos to write to Hephaistion the epistates to send the accused Petobastis and Horos to Crocodilopolis so that we may be judged before Diophanes and, if I show that they have flooded my sown field, to compel them to take over my sown land and pay the rent on it, and to give me an equal amount from the land which they cultivate in place of that which they have flooded. If this is done, by fleeing to you, O king, I shall be able to pay the rent to Chrysermos, and I shall have experienced kindness at your hands. Farewell.

(Strategos' note) To Hephaistion. If possible reconcile them; if not, send them to _________ after the 10th of Choiach, so that they may be judged before the proper court. Year 4, Daisios 27, Hathyr 29.

(Docket) Year 4, Daisios 27, Hathyr 29. Idomeneus, farmer of the gift-estate of Chrysermos, against Petobastis and Horos about flooding of land.


Chrysermos: An estate analogous to that of the dioiketes Apollonios.

Arakos: a leguminous crop, perhaps wild chickling, used as fodder.

Send them to: A blank is left here for an unknown reason.


P. Tebt. I 50                                                                                              112/1

Agriculture was more often impeded by insufficient water than by too much. This petitioner accuses a neighbor of wrongfully damming up a royal canal and avoiding compliance with an earlier order of the komogrammateus and other officials to clear it; he asks for intervention to correct the situation and for payment of his past losses.

To Menches, komogrammateus of Kerkeosiris, from Pasis son of Petesouchos, cultivator of crown land from the same village. It is an old-established custom to water the royal land belonging to me in the neighborhood of the said village by means of the royal conduit which passes through the adjacent crown and temple land of Lykos son of Zopyrion, and others. Now in the 2nd year during my absence from home on pressing business for Asklepiades the (king's) kinsman, the aforesaid Lykos, thinking that he had a favorable opportunity, dammed up that part of the above-mentioned conduit which lay on his own land. The result of this was that I missed the right season for the irrigation of the land, and incurred a loss amounting of to 30 artabas of wheat besides 3 talents of copper for the expenses of other irrigation works. I therefore at the time took you and Horos the komarch and the elders of the cultivators and pointed out the damage and the dammed-up conduit, and you decided that the aforesaid Lykos should dig out his part and that I should use it for irrigation according to custom, as is my right. Up to the present time, however, he has not done so, but procrastinates, causing me every year to miss the proper season for irrigating and watering the crops, and involving me in the aforesaid loss in wheat and money, the total of which is from the 2nd to the 6th year 150 artabas of wheat and 15 talents of copper. Wherefore, because my crops did not meet my expectations I was impoverished; and I make this complaint to you in order that you may subscribe to my statements and further forward a copy of the petition to the proper officials, so that the accused Lykos having been made to appear may be compelled first of all to dig out the conduit as it was before and to forfeit the damage aforesaid, the 150 artabas of wheat and the 15 talents of copper. I shall then be enabled to pay without hindrance the rent of the land and no loss will result to the king. Farewell.


Asklepiades: No doubt the superintendent of revenues.

The total: The procrastination appears equally to be on the part of the petitioner; if his case was so clear, why did he wait so long to appeal?


P. Tebt. I  27                                                                                                       111

The core of this series of letters is one from the dioiketes Eirenaios to Hermias, a superintendent of revenues, reprimanding him in very harsh terms for his insufficient attention to the protection and collection of crops and his practice of appointing bad subordinates. A copy and cover letter go to another superintendent, Asklepiades, and a copy of both plus a cover letter to Horos, the basilikos grammateus of the district. He in turn sends a copy of the whole file to his subordinates with a cover circular asking for cooperation in the specific matter of nominating suitable persons to guard the crops, both during growing and after the harvest.

(Docket of Menches) Received in the 4th year, Mecheir 10.

Horos to the topogrammateis and komogrammateis, greeting. Appended is a copy of the letter from Eirenaios, the (king's) kinsman and dioiketes, concerning the persons to be made to undertake the custody of the crops.

You will therefore send us the lists of individuals in your district who are conspicuous for honesty and steadiness and live in the neighborhood, with a statement of the extent of their several holdings and other property, so that the other arrangements may be made in accordance with the instructions. Farewell. Year 4, Mecheir 10.

Eirenaios to Horos, greeting. Appended is a copy of the letter to Asklepiades. Give him therefore a list of persons who can be made to undertake the custody of the crops, and apply due zeal to the end that the other requirements may be carried out in accordance with the directions below, understanding that you too will be held responsible for any neglect in this matter. Year 4, Peritios 23, Choiach 23.

To Asklepiades. Appended is a copy of the letter to Hermias, the overseer of the revenues... Regarding [therefore] the same instructions as issued to yourself also, take care that persons of repute are appointed to the posts of oikonomos and chief of police by you also; and that the protection of crops be managed in the manner directed, and the collection of dues for the treasury take place more punctually, and so no debts be incurred.

To Hermias. Harneingotes, who is in the office of Horos the basilikos grammateus, after having submitted to me what he wrote to you, and having also specified what was written to Theodotos, the official discharging the duties of oikonomos and chief of police - in which it was stated to be necessary that the dekanoi of the police in the villages should be summoned to a general meeting, and that declarations on oath by the sovereigns as suggested by him should be taken with the approval of Theodotos concerning the protection of the annual crops - he began to be much astonished that after the severest treatment at the inquiry instituted against you for not having provided at the proper time for the sale of the green stuffs and the other second crops, nor for the custody of the produce, and for not even using men of repute for the offices of oikonomos and chief of police, but without exception evil and worthless persons, you still continue in the same miserable course with no improvement whatever in your improper procedure. But be sure that you are liable to accusation; and, before it is too late, believing that you will receive no pardon for any neglect, see that suitable persons are appointed to the aforesaid offices, and display unremitting zeal in what tends to increase the revenue; and procure from the komogrammateis the list of those who can be made to undertake the custody of the produce from those in the army and the other inhabitants of the district who are living in the neighborhood and are conspicuous for honesty and steadiness, and appoint those fit to the posts in the villages; take from them and the policemen in each village two declarations upon oath by the sovereigns that they will provide in the best possible manner for the guardianship; and will allow none of the cultivators of crown land or released land to touch the green stuffs and the other second crops except those intended for the fodder of the animals used in agriculture, which shall be supplied with the approval of the komogrammateis, and except amounts to be sold for which the prices and securities shall be paid and deposited at the banks to meet the dues to the treasury in accordance with the regulations previously issued; and will take care that all else is rightly done in the summer, and will convey the produce to the appointed places, and let nothing go until the proclamation concerning the release of crops is published, and unless everything has been duly delivered and the demands for previous years paid up... Similar declarations are (secondly) to be made by you or those set in charge of - - - office of oikonomos and from the basilikoi grammateis, that those coming to receive the surplus produce are not in debt, and that there is no lien upon it for other charges or causes, and that care is being taken in order that all may pay the crown dues as soon as possible; and (thirdly) by the holders of posts as chiefs of police, that they will take care that this is accomplished in the manner aforesaid. Then deposit one copy of the declarations at the royal bank, and send the other to us; and make it your aim that proclamations are published in the villages to the effect that no one shall let loose animals upon land sown with grass and similar produce, or shall touch the other second crops without giving security as set forth above and that the animals of those who disobey shall be confiscated to meet the rents. Above all be vigilant that the collection of all revenues be carried out more punctually and that it may not again occur to you to be involved in similar difficulties. In general consider how great an impulse attention to the matters indicated gives to business, and deem it an essential that there should be no lapse in anything that is expedient, and that by the continual invention of further improvements everything should proceed according to the method prescribed by us. For we will not accept as an excuse either force or anything else whatever, and any losses will be rigorously exacted from you. Whichever day you receive this letter give notice of the fact.


We give cols. I-III only; cf. the corrections in BL 1. We have followed Wilcken's changes of interpretation (W.Chr. 331) in several places, but rejected P. Kool's restoration in line 27 (BL 3.240).

To Hermias: What follows is still of doubtful interpretation on some points, as the writing is very ungrammatical.


P. Hib. I 39                                                                                                              265

Grain paid as rent for taxes into the granary was, except for what was needed locally for expenses or seed grain, ultimately shipped to Alexandria for the purposes of supplying that city and for export. Xanthos here orders Euphranor to have the grain from certain properties delivered to a royal vessel, together with a sealed sample of the grain, as was usual to protect against contamination of the shipment to the profit of someone other than the government.

Xanthos to Euphranor, greeting. Give orders for the measurement through Killes to Horos on the royal barge, of which the master and pilot is the said Horos, of the grain levied upon the holding of Alexandros and Bromenos and that of Nikostratos and Pausanias; and let Killes or the ship-master write you a receipt and seal a sample, and you bring them to me. Farewell. Year 2 1, Thoth 10. (Address) To Euphranor.


P. Hib. I 98                                                                                                       252

After the grain was loaded on the boat for shipment to Alexandria, the master of the boat gave the land officials a receipt which in effect discharged their obligations to the crown for that quantity of grain.

[Year] 34, Mesore [24, Dionysios], ship-master, acknowledges that he has embarked through Nechthembes the agent of the basilikoi grammateis on the boat of Xenodokos and Alexandros 4800 artabas of barley.

In the reign of Ptolemy the son of Ptolemy Soter, year 24, the priest of Alexander and the Brother and Sister Gods being Neoptolemos son of Kraisis, the canephore of Arsinoe Philadelphos being Arsinoe daughter of Nikolaos, the 24th of the month Mesore. Dionysios, ship-master, acknowledges that he has embarked on the boat of Xenodokos and Alexandros, the pilot on which is --yris son of Pasis, of Memphis, through Nechtembes the agent of the basilikoi grammateis, for transport to the royal (granary) at Alexandria, with a sample, four thousand eight hundred artabas [of barley], being pure, unadulterated and sifted grain, by the measure and smoothing-rod which he himself brought from Alexandria, with just measurement, and I make no complaint.


Cf. BL 2.2.76 for correction of the priest's name and 9.109 for date and the pilot’s name.


P. Ryl. IV 583                                                                                                          170

This lease (in a standard two-copy format), even in its fragmentary form, shows many details about the operation of a vineyard in the Fayum. The lessee receives only a third of the pressed grape juice, but he must pay all labor costs except treading the grapes, and keep the vineyard in good condition.

In the reign of Ptolemy and Ptolemy the brother and Cleopatra, children of Ptolemy and Cleopatra, the Manifest Gods, in the first year, the priest of Alexander and the Savior Gods and the Brother and Sister Gods and the Benefactor Gods and the Fatherloving Gods and the Gods Manifest and the Motherloving Gods and the athlophore of Berenike Euergetis and the canephore of Arsinoe Philadelphos and the priestess of Arsinoe Philopator being those in office in Alexandria, in the month of Xandikos the ninth, Phaophi ninth, in Philadelphia of the Arsinoite Nome. Nichomachos son of Ph... ades the Halikarnassian, successor of his paternal allotment, has leased to Apollonios son of Apollonios, Persian of the Epigone, the somewhat sandy vineyard situated near the same Philadelphia, belonging to Krates son of Pheidimos, from Arsinoe in Lycia, paymaster of the Pamphylians in their command, which is of six arouras, or however many they be, for the first year for a third part of all the fruit and crops that grow in the vineyard (on the terms that) when all the crops have been made into wine and the apomoira due to the crown has been deducted along with the wages for the treaders, hire of a winepress and a contribution [in the month of the vintage (?)] of a half-kados to the agricultural guild, dividing the must remaining into three parts, Nichomachos shall take two parts, and Apollonios the third. Each shall provide jars for himself and as required for the apomoira according to the proportions of the lease, and each shall carry down the jars for himself to the winepress, and carry up the must by himself, while the apomoira ---.

(Lines 13 ff.) Monthly wages (?) are to be paid at his own expense by Apollonios from the time stated until termination of the lease, as is best for the land and the vine; Apollonios is to prune the vine moderately and exactly, to keep the ground of the property clear of weedy growth and rush and reed and quake grass and kinaios reed and all other tangle of roots except for the dry ground inside the cross-trench, and is to maintain the cross-trenches dug and clean and the property fenced; he is to clear out the drains and fence the conduit facing the... and lead it through for the watering; and when the lease has expired, he is to deliver the ground of the property in clean condition and the cross-trenches clean, as is presently stated. If he fails to deliver it or to perform each of the tasks at the proper time, or if he abandons the lease, he is to pay the assessed wage with a 50 per cent surcharge for every task he fails to perform, and a fine of two silver talents for any damage that may be due at the time of his abandoning the lease. Apollonios is to shift 50 rows of vines to the uncultivated ground at his own expense and to transplant in the same year at the proper (time) ---.


The reign: The three children of Ptolemy V and Cleopatra, associated as sovereigns in the aftermath of Antiochus IV's invasion of Egypt.

Those in office in Alexandria: Many documents of the later Ptolemaic period omit the names of these functionaries through ignorance or laziness; the purpose of retaining their titles (dating the year) is thus removed.

Month dates: The Macedonian and Egyptian calendars were systematically equated to one another from the reign of Epiphanes; see A.E. Samuel, Ptol. Chronology, 129 ff.

End: The remaining clauses, preserved only in the second copy and only fragmentarily there, contain provisions for penalties, for failure to transplant; Apollonios' payment of some exaction for the wine press; the disposition of any "raisin" wine; disposition of any timber; the right of the lessor to install his own guard at the lessee's expense; loan of a shovel from lessor to lessee; etc.


P. Rev.                                                                                                                     259

This long and remarkable papyrus contains the detailed regulations governing various aspects of the royal fiscal system of Egypt in the time of Ptolemy II. It is an assemblage by an unknown person of royal orders put forward separately and in some cases revised, rather than a systematic royal ordinance. The best preserved portions are divided into three main sections, concerned with the rules governing tax-farming (columns 1-22), the supervision of vineyards and orchards and of their products, mainly wine (23-27), and the royal monopoly on the production and distribution of vegetable oils for all purposes (38-72). Even these sections are full of gaps, and their interpretation is often obscure. Despite this, the "Revenue Laws" are the fullest systematic source of information about these aspects of Ptolemaic Egypt in the third century that we have.

Even a brief discussion of the contents of the papyrus would go far beyond the scope of this introduction, and the reader is referred to the works cited below for the systematic exposition of these subjects. One observes above all the concern of the Ptolemies to provide a degree of security and stability for their revenues through the guarantees, mutual suspicion, and checks of the tax-farmers and the bureaucrats that are inherent in the system of contracting out the taxes and manufactures.

The text used here is that of J. Bingen, SB Beiheft I (1952), where a selected bibliography about this document is given. This papyrus (actually two rolls) has been a central part of all discussions of Ptolemaic Egypt for a century and has been interpreted according to the proccupations of different periods. The fullest exposition of the contents is Cl. Préaux’s L’économie royale des Lagides (Bruxelles 1938), with detailed bibliography; the element of central planning is emphasized here as in M. Rostovtzeff’s great work, Social and Economic History of the Hellenistic World (Oxford 1941). For a revisionist view, see J. Bingen,  Hellenistic Egypt (Edinburgh 2002), chapter 12.

(1-2) In the reign of Ptolemy, son of Ptolemy Soter [and his son] Ptolemy. - - - If... wishes to purchase... any of the contracts being sold…

(3) The antigrapheis appointed by the oikonomos shall take charge of the revenue pertaining to the contracts ---.

(4) - - - reckoning by count of days within 30 days. But [if] they render accounts in more than thirty days

(5) If they are discovered to be in debt to the Crown, those who secured their condemnation shall have a share in exacting the payment.

(6) It shall [not) be lawful for the tax-farmers to receive payments from those who collected the arrears, even if it be within the 30 [days].

(7) [(The one copy shall be sealed and contain the names of the ... )] and of the witnesses, the other shall be unsealed; and they shall enter in their books the names of the persons employed, with their fathers' names and ethnic designations and the nature of each person's employment

(8) But if these persons did not connive at it, they shall exact the payment from the outgoing tax-farmers. Let the tax-farmers bring an action, if they have any complaints to make against the collectors of arrears or their subordinates in matters connected with the [contract in the nome] in which they were engaged in buying the [tax - - - 1.

(9) Within ten days from that on which they take up the contract, let the collectors in the market be announced in the customs-house, writing the law of the [contract] in Greek and in Egyptian, and if there is any public notice [about the things pertaining] to the contract, let it be written --.

(10- 11) They shall appoint a guard for the inspectors, the tax-collectors and the guardians of the vouchers, and for those occupied in any other way concerning the sale and the scrutiny of the revenue pertaining to the sale - - - [The tax collectors] and the inspectors and the others employed in connection with the contract, if they [collect any of the taxes (?) or] take something else without the antigrapheis, or after collecting it do not report it to the antigrapheus, shall pay fifty-fold to the Crown- -.

(12) If the oikonomos and antigrapheus discover any person employed in farming the taxes whose name has not been entered in the list, they shall bring him to the king before - - - anyone by him.- - - in [each] nome to the collectors or their subordinates and [all others?] let it be done from the accounts. The salary to the collectors [shall be] for each, thirty drachmas [per month], to their subordinates, twenty [drachmas per month], to the guardians of the receipts, fifteen drachmas each], to one inspector... each month one hundred drachmas.

(13) A list of all the collectors required for each contract, and their subordinates and the guardians of the receipts, shall be drawn up by the oikonomos and the antigrapheus acting in conjunction with the chief farmer---. Whoever commits any of these offenses shall pay 5 talents to the Crown and shall be kept under arrest until the king decides his case.

(14) Registration of chief tax-farmers: those who wish to become chief tax-farmers shall register themselves with the official who holds the auction - - - whoever, contrary to these provisions, buys, gives a share, or shares, shall be fined thirty minas--- -

(15) Those ineligible for becoming either chief tax-farmers or associates, or sureties: crown officials, the chrematistai, their clerk- -.

Exaction of taxes: the tax-farmers shall exact from those who are subject to taxation all the [taxes] in accordance with the laws. If they disobey this rule in any particular way, they shall pay a fine of 3 talents to the Crown, and the taxes - - - unless they enter them in their books within 30 [days].

(16) Balancing of accounts: the oikonomos and the antigrapheus shall hold a balancing of accounts with the tax-farmers every month before the 10th [with reference to the] sums received during the [previous] month.--They shall not add the sums received in the current [month] to the installment belonging to the preceding month, nor take sums which belong to one installment and credit them to another, and even if one of the tax farmers or their subordinates pays back a sum which he has received from the revenue of the contract, this shall not be credited to his separate account. But when the next balancing of accounts takes place, they shall add to the revenue of the month the amount which was left over from the previous balancing, making clear the amount of the sum left over from the previous period.

(17) But if the previous period had produced a deficit, while the next month produces a surplus, and the oikonomos receives in full that portion of the deficit in the farm which was not covered by surety... from the surplus. . . But if subsequently a deficit occurs in the contract which produced the surplus, (the oikonomos) shall exact (payment) of the surplus which had been transferred from the sureties inscribed on the register of the contract to which the surplus was transferred; but first... let him restore the surplus (?) which was transferred to another contract, back to the contract from which it was transferred.

(18) Copies of all the balancings of accounts held by the oikonomos with the tax-farmers shall be sealed by him and given at once to each of the associates and witnesses (?), and the oikonomos also shall have copies which have been sealed by all those who took part in the balancing---, and he shall send copies of the balancings every month to the dioiketes and eklogistes.

When the period for which the tax was sold expires, the tax-farmers shall all come to the oikonomos before the tenth day of the following month, and he shall hold a general balancing of accounts with them, in which he shall state both the value of the [revenue received, and] the balance which they still have to pay, together with the sums which have [already] been reported as paid and the dates of the payment, and whether from the sub-letting of the contract or other quarters any debts are owing of which it is the duty of the oikonomos to exact payment, (19) and the remainder, if they should owe anything, and how much is each tax-farmer's share of the debt; and underneath the share of the debt he shall write the amount which he has received separately from them or the surety, with the dates of the payments and the remainder still due; but if there is a surplus the oikonomos shall set it down (to the credit of the tax- farmers)---.

(The oikonomos) shall report... to the dioiketes and [to the] eklogistes; and the dioiketes shall examine his books to see whether there is a surplus in the receipts from the other [contracts]; and if there is a surplus due from him to other contracts, he shall balance the arrears against the surplus, but if there is nothing due from him to other contracts, he shall order the oikonomos to exact the arrears and pay them over to him when the collection of arrears takes place. The oikonomos shall pay the arrears within three days, or, if he fails to pay them over [on demand], he shall be fined three times the amount, and the dioiketes shall exact the payment (from the oikonomos)

(20) Any tax-farmers who fail to balance their accounts with the oikonomos, when he desires them to do so and summons them, shall pay 30 minas to the Crown and the oikonomos shall at the same time compel them (to balance the account). ---The oikonomos shall also give [to each] of the sureties an account of his balance, stating that the surety has paid what he owed. If the oikonomos when asked fails to give the account on the same day or the one following, he shall render himself liable to proceedings for wrongful exaction. Balancings of accounts shall be held in the same manner by all officials who shall put up to auction any of the crown revenues.

[Concerning] contracts: with respect to all contracts made by the oikonomoi or antigrapheis, or their agents, being officials of the Crown, in matters connected with the contracts, the officials shall not exact any payments from the tax-farmers (21) for the contracts or receipts.

- - - the appointed (antigrapheis) shall pay on behalf of them- - - but the additional penalties which have been decreed shall be exacted from the outgoing tax-farmers, unless the officials are discovered to have connived at the fraud with them.

Time for appeal. When disputes arise out of the laws concerning tax farming, it shall be allowed to bring an action about... when they choose, but when other disputes arise out of the laws concerning tax-farming, and a different time for appeal has been appointed in each law, it shall be allowed to bring an action, both in the period for which the revenues have been sold (22) and in the next three months, unless one of the associates or subordinates connected with the tax-farming is discovered after the three months. But if any of these---.

(23) - - - of Apollonios the dioiketes.

(24) In the reign of Ptolemy, son of Ptolemy and his son Ptolemy, year 27---. (They shall receive for the tax on vineyards from) ... the sixth part of the wine produced, but from the cleruchs who are soldiers and planted their [own] plots, and from land in the Thebaid which requires special irrigation, as much as... the tenth part (of the wine). On orchards valued [yearly] in silver the sixth part

Concerning the gathering and collection (of the vintage). Let the cultivators gather the produce when the season comes, (25) and when they begin to gather it, let them give notice to the manager (of the farm) or tax-farmer, and if he wishes to inspect the vineyards, let them exhibit to him---.

When the cultivators wish to make wine, they shall summon the tax-farmer in the presence of the oikonomos and antigrapheus or their agent, and when he (the tax-farmer) comes, let the cultivator make wine, and measure it by the measures in use at each place, after they have been tested and sealed by the oikonomos and antigrapheus; and in accordance with the quantity measured let him pay the tax. If the cultivators fail to do any of the foregoing according to the law, they shall pay the tax-farmers twice the amount of the apomoira-tax.

(26) Those persons who already possess instruments for making wine shall register themselves before the tax-farmer, when---[and when] they intend to make wine, they [shall exhibit] the seal which has been stamped upon the instruments, unbroken. Any person who fails to register himself, or produce his instruments for inspection as the law requires, or to bring them to be sealed up when the tax-farmer wishes to seal them, or to exhibit the seal stamped upon them, shall pay the tax-farmers the amount of the loss which the tax-farmers consider at the moment that they have incurred.

If the cultivators gather the vintage and make wine before the tax-farmer comes, [let them keep (?)] the wine at the vats or - - - and when they hear (?) the first notice of the auction announced in the town or village in which they live, they shall register themselves on the same day [or the one] following, and shall exhibit the wine which they have made, and the vineyard from which they have gathered the crop prematurely.

(27) Agreements: - - - he shall seal the copy of the agreement and give it to the cultivator. In the agreement the tax-farmer shall declare under royal oath that he has entered in the agreement the full amount of the produce, including all wine made prematurely and reported to him by the cultivator, and has not misappropriated any of it, nor let it out of his possession. The other agreement with the cultivator's seal shall be kept by the oikonomos or his representative; and (in this agreement) the cultivator shall declare under royal oath that he has exhibited all the produce, and reported all the wine made before the proper time, and has honestly entered in the agreement the due amount of the tax. And there shall be in addition unsealed copies of both agreements.

(28) [But if] they dispute (about the produce) whether it is more or less, the oikonomos and the antigrapheus shall decide the question, and the agreements shall be sealed in accordance with his decision. If the tax-farmer fails to make an agreement with the cultivator, when the cultivator wishes him to do so, he shall not have the right to exact payment of the tax. But the oikonomos and antigrapheus shall make an agreement with the cultivator, and having conveyed the requisite amount of wine to the royal repository, shall enter it as having been received, but shall not put down the value of it to the credit of the tax-farmers- -.

(29) Owners of [orchards] shall register themselves before the tax-farmer and [the agent of] the oikonomos and antigrapheus in charge locally, stating their names, the village in which they live, and the sum at which they assess the revenue (from the produce) in their orchard. If the tax-farmer consents, they shall make a double agreement with him, sealed, as the law requires, and the oikonomos shall exact the sixth in accordance with the terms of it. But if the tax-farmer objects to the assessment, he shall be allowed to seize the crop, and shall pay the cultivator by installments from what is sold from day to day; and when the cultivator has recovered the amount at which he assessed his crop, the surplus shall belong to the tax-farmer, and the cultivator shall pay the sixth to the oikonomos. On the other hand, if the crop when sold does not reach the amount of the assessment, the oikonomos shall exact the deficit from the tax-farmer and---.

(30) If the tax-farmers fail either to carry out duly all the requirements of the law, or [in any other way] hinder the cultivators when giving notice, or summoning the tax-farmer, or paying the tax in accordance with the law, the cultivator shall be allowed in the presence of the agent of the oikonomos and antigrapheus, as the law prescribes the presence of these two officials when payments are made, full power of action, without incurring any penalty by so doing. But when the tax-farmer comes, they shall show him [the produce and] bring evidence at once to prove that they have done all that was required, and the agent of the oikonomos and the antigrapheus shall give the tax-farmer a written account both of the produce and of the tax, cultivator by cultivator.

Transport of the tax. The cultivators [(shall transport)] the due amount of wine---. (31) [(if any of them fail to do so)] he shall pay to the tax-farmer the value of the tax which he owes them: in Libya, the Saite, ... polite, Prosopite, Athribite, Menelaite Nomes and the Delta, ... drachmas for each metretes of eight choes; in the Sebynnite, Busirite, [Mendesian], Leontopolite, Sethroite, Pharbaithite Nomes, Arabia, the Bubastite Nome and Bubastos, the Tanite, the Memphite Nome, with Memphis, the Letopolite, Hermopolite, Oxyrhynchite and Kynopolite Nomes, the Lake District, the Herakleopolite and Aphroditopolite Nomes, six drachmas (for each metretes); and the Thebaid, five drachmas. The oikonomos shall exact the values from the cultivators and pay them over to the Crown to the credit of the tax-contract

Stamping of receipts. The oikonomos shall establish repositories for the wine in each village, and shall himself give a stamped receipt for what is brought, to the [cultivator (?)]. ---The oikonomos shall transport the wine from the [vats (?)]---.

(32) [The cultivator] shall provide [pottery] for the repository, and wax. And the pottery shall consist of water-tight jars which have been tested and are sufficient for the wine payable [for the] tax-contract. The oikonomos and the antigrapheus shall [... days] before the cultivators gather the crops, give them the price of the pottery which each cultivator has to provide for the tax in wine upon his own produce; this price shall be fixed by the dioiketes, who shall pay it (to the oikonomos and antigrapheus) through the royal bank in the nome; the cultivator, on receiving the price, shall provide pottery of the best quality; and if he does not receive the price, he shall nevertheless provide the pottery, but shall recover the price of it from the tax which he has to pay in money, [receiving a price for the] wine of ... drachmas] per 8-chous [metretes] -

(33) The [oikonomos] shall examine the [wine], as much as remains, and taking with him the tax-farmer, the antigrapheus and his agent, shall jointly with them sell the wine, giving the [tax-farmers (?)] time in which to settle their accounts, and exacting payment of the [amounts] he shall put them down in the account of the tax-contract to the credit of the tax-farmers.

The basilikoi grammateis shall, within ten days from the day on which they proclaim the auction, notify to the tax-farmers how many vineyards or orchards there are in each nome, with the number of arouras (which they contain), and how many vineyards or orchards belonging to persons on the tribute list paid the tax to the temples before the twenty-second year. If they fail to make out the list, or if they are discovered to have made it out incorrectly, if convicted in a suit, they shall pay to the tax-farmers for every mistake of which they are convicted 600 drachmas and twice the amount of the loss (incurred by them). All owners of vineyards or gardens on the tribute list who paid the sixth to the temples before the twenty-first year, shall henceforth pay it [to (Arsinoe) Philadelphos (?)] -

(34) The tax-farmers shall within thirty days from [the day on which] they purchase the tax, appoint sureties for a sum greater by one-twentieth (than the price agreed upon for the tax) and they shall deposit (?) the property which they mortgage, in monthly installments from Dios to- -.

The value of the wine which is received from them (the tax-farmers) for the Crown shall be credited in the installments [due from them].

Balancing of accounts. When all the crops of the contract have been sold, the oikonomos shall take with him the chief tax-farmer and his associates and the antigrapheus and shall balance the accounts with the chief tax farmer and his associates. If there is a surplus left over, he shall pay to the chief tax-farmer and his associates through the royal bank the share of the surplus due to each member of the company. But if there proves to be a deficit, he shall exact from the chief tax-farmer and his associates and the sureties the amount due from each and he shall exact the payment within the first three months of the following year.

(36) - - - [so that] it may be in accord with what is written above. Farewell. Year 23, Daisios 5.

The basilikoi grammateis of the [nomes] throughout the country shall, each for the nome of which he is secretary, register both the number of arouras comprised by vineyards and orchards and the amount of the produce from them, cultivator by cultivator, beginning with the twenty-second year, and shall separate the land belonging to the temples and the produce from it so that the rest of the land may [be determined], from which the sixth is to be paid to (Arsinoe) Philadelphos, and they shall give a written account of the details to the agents of [Satyros]. Similarly, both the cleruchs who possess vineyards or orchards in the allotments which they have received from the king, and all other persons who own vineyards or orchards or hold them in grants or cultivate them on any terms whatever shall, each for himself, register both the extent of his land and the produce and shall give the sixth part of the produce to Arsinoe Philadelphos for sacrifices and libations---.

(37) King Ptolemy to [all] strategoi, [hipparchs], commanders, nomarchs, toparchs, oikonomoi, antigrapheis, basilikoi grammateis, libyarchs, and chiefs of police, greetings. I have sent you copies of my proclamation, which ordains- the payment of the sixth to (Arsinoe) Philadelphos. Take heed therefore that my instructions are carried into effect. Farewell. Year 23, Dios 2-.

All owners of vineyards or orchards, in whatever manner, shall give to the agents of Satyros and the accountants who have been appointed agents of Dionysodoros, in each nome, a written statement, (which statement shall be given by) themselves in person or by the manager or cultivators of their estates from the 18th to the [21st year], (and shall contain) both the amount of produce and the name of the temple to which they used to pay the sixth due, together with the amount in each year. Similarly the priests also shall report from what property they severally derived a revenue, and the amount of the tax in each year, paid in wine or in silver. Likewise the basilikoi grammateis shall send in a written statement of all these details---.

(38) Year 27, Loios 10. 1 corrected (this) in the office of Apollonios the dioiketes.

(39) [The persons authorized shall buy the produce from the cultivators at the following rates:] for each artaba [of sesame] containing thirty choinikes, clean for grinding, [81 drachmas: for each artaba of kroton containing thirty choinikes, clean for grinding, 4 drachmas; for each artaba of cnecus, clean for grinding, I drachma 2 obols; for each artaba of colocynth, 4 obols; of linseed, 3 obols.

If the cultivator does not wish to deliver (his produce) clean for grinding, he shall measure it out from the threshing-floor after cleaning it with a sieve, and against the further purification for grinding he shall add in the case of sesame 7 artabas to every 100, in the case of kroton the same, and in the case of cnecus, 8 artabas.

They shall receive from the cultivators for the (tax of) two drachmas levied on sesame and the (tax of) one drachma on kroton payment in sesame and kroton at the price prescribed in the tariff, and shall not exact payment in silver.

The cultivators shall not be allowed to sell either sesame or kroton to any other person.

(40) ---, and they shall give to the komarch a sealed receipt for what they received from each cultivator. If they fail to give the sealed receipt, the komarch shall not allow the produce to leave the village; otherwise he shall forfeit 1000 drachmas to the Crown, and five times the amount of whatever loss is incurred by the contract through his action.

They shall seal the oil in the country at the rate of 48 drachmas in copper for a metretes of sesame oil or cnecus oil containing 12 choes, and at the rate of 30 drachmas for a metretes of castor oil, colocynth oil, or lamp oil. (Altered to... both sesame and cnecus oil and castor oil, colocynth oil and lamp oil at the rate of 48 drachmas in copper for a metretes of 12 choes and 2 obols for a cotyla.)

In Alexandria and in the whole of Libya they shall sell it at the rate of 48 drachmas for a metretes of sesame oil and 48 drachmas for a metretes of castor oil. (Altered to ... 48 drachmas for a metretes of sesame oil or castor oil, and 2 obols for a cotyla.) And they shall provide an amount sufficient for the demands of purchasers, selling it throughout the country in all the cities and villages by... measures which have been tested by [the oikonomos and the] antigrapheus- -.

(41) They shall exhibit the land sown to the director of the contract with the oikonomos and the antigrapheus, and if after measuring it they find that the right number of arouras has not been sown, the nomarch and the toparch and the oikonomos and the antigrapheus shall, each who is responsible, forfeit to the Crown 2 talents, and to the holders of the contract, for each artaba of sesame which they ought to have received 2 drachmas, and for each artaba of kroton I drachma, together with the profit which would have been made on the sesame oil and the castor oil. The dioiketes shall exact the payment from them. See over (a brief and damaged note is on the reverse).

Before the season arrives for sowing the sesame and the kroton, the oikonomos shall give to the nomarch or toparch who is in charge of the nome, if he so desires, for the sowing of each aroura of sesame 4 drachmas, and for each aroura of kroton 2 [drachmas], and he shall receive from the threshing-floor in return for [these payments]---.

(42) When it is time to harvest the sesame and the kroton and cnecus, the cultivators shall give notice to the nomarch and the toparch or, where there are no nomarchs or toparchs, to the oikonomos, and these officials shall summon the holder of the contract, and the director of the contract shall visit the acreage with them and make an assessment.

The [natives] and the other cultivators shall assess their own crops severally by kind before they harvest them, and they shall make a duplicate sealed agreement with the contractor concerning the assessment, and the natives shall each write down on oath the amount of land which he has sown by the kind of seed, and the amount of his assessment, and shall seal the agreement, and the agent sent by the nomarch or toparch shall also seal it---.

(43) ---measure in the presence of the cultivators. See over. (On the reverse:) The oikonomos and the antigrapheus shall assess the sesame and kroton schedule to be sown in other nomes, and they shall receive the sesame and kroton from the cultivators.

The nomarch or the official in charge in the nome shall report the number of arouras sown, cultivator by cultivator, sixty days before the crop is harvested. If he fails to report or to show that the cultivators have sown the amount of land scheduled, he shall forfeit to the purchaser of the contract the prescribed penalty, and shall himself exact payment from the disobedient cultivators.

All persons throughout the country who are exempt from taxation or hold villages and land in gift or as a subsidy shall measure out all the sesame and kroton grown by them, and the other kinds of produce included in the oil monopoly leaving themselves a sufficient quantity for seed, and shall receive the value in copper at the rate of 6 drachmas for an artaba of sesame, 3 drachmas 2 obols for an artaba of kroton, and I drachma for an artaba of cnecus. If they do not measure out all the sesame---.

(44) - - - to be a factory, and they shall signify their approval by stamping it.

In none of the villages which are held in gift shall they set up any oil factory.

They shall deposit in each factory an adequate amount of sesame and kroton and cnecus.

They shall not allow the oil-makers appointed in each nome to migrate to another nome. Any oil-maker who goes elsewhere shall be subject to arrest by the director of the contract and oikonomos and the antigrapheus. No one shall harbor oil-makers (from another nome). If anyone does so knowingly or fails to bring them back when ordered, he shall forfeit for each oil-maker 3000 drachmas, and the oil-maker shall be liable to arrest.

(45) - - - and from the surplus of the oil that is manufactured he shall distribute to the oil-makers for every metretes containing 12 choes, 2 drachmas 3 obols. Of this sum the oil-maker and the pounders shall receive I drachma 4 obols, and the purchasers of the contract 5 obols.

If the oikonomos or his representative fails to pay the oil-makers their wages or their share in the profits from the sale, he shall forfeit to the Crown 3000 drachmas, and to the oil-makers their pay, and twice the amount of any loss incurred by the contract on account of the workmen.

If they fail to set up oil factories in accordance with these regulations, or to deposit a sufficient quantity of produce, and in consequence the contract suffers a loss, the oikonomos and the antigrapheus shall forfeit the amount of the deficit thus caused, and shall pay to the purchasers of the contract twice the amount of their loss.

The oikonomos and the antigrapheus shall provide [the plant] in every factory---.

(46) When he comes down to pay wages, he shall not obstruct the work in any way to the damage of the contract.

If he fails to provide plant or causes any damage to the contract, he shall be judged before the dioiketes, and if he is found guilty he shall forfeit 2 talents of silver and twice the amount of the damage

The contractors and the antigrapheus appointed by the oikonomos and the antigrapheus shall have authority over all the oil-makers in the district and over the factories and the plant, and shall seal up the implements during the time when there is no work.

They shall compel the oil-makers to work every day and shall stay beside them, and they shall make each day into oil not less than I artaba of sesame at each mortar, and 4 artabas of kroton, and I of cnecus, and they shall pay [as wages for crushing] 4 [artabas] of sesame ... drachmas, and for... ] artabas of kroton, 4 drachmas, and for ... artabas] of cnecus, 8 drachmas- -_

(47) Neither the oikonomos nor the manager of the contract shall make an arrangement with the oil-makers concerning the flow of the oil on any pretext, nor shall they leave the implements in the factories unsealed during the time when there is no work. If they arrange with any of the oil-makers or leave the implements unsealed, each of the guilty parties shall forfeit I talent of silver to the Crown and make good any deficit incurred by the contract.

The agent appointed by the oikonomos and the antigrapheus shall register the names of the dealers in each city and of the retailers, and together with the managers of the contract arrange with them how much oil and castor oil they are to take and sell from day to day; and in Alexandria they shall arrange with the traders; and they shall make a written agreement with each of them, with those in the country every month, with those in Alexandria---.

(48) Whatever quantity of oil and castor oil the dealers and retailers in each village agree to dispose of, the oikonomos and the antigrapheus shall convey the full quantity of each kind to each village before the beginning of the month, and they shall measure it out to the dealers and retailers every five days, and shall receive the price, if possible, on the same day, but if not, before the expiry of the five days, and shall pay it into the royal bank, debiting the contract with the cost of transport.

The quantity which they arrange for in each case shall be put up to auction ten days before the beginning of the month, and they shall publish in writing the latest bid for ten days both in the metropolis and in the village, and shall make an agreement for the finally approved sum.

(49) - - - nor [shall they take away (?)] mortars or presses or any other implement used in this industry on any pretext; otherwise they shall forfeit to the Crown 5 talents, and to the purchasers of the contract five times the damage. Persons who already possess any of these implements shall make a declaration before the director of the contract and the agent of the oikonomos and the antigrapheus within thirty days and shall exhibit their mortars and presses; and the holders of the contract and the agent of the oikonomos and antigrapheus shall transfer them to the royal factories.

If anyone is detected manufacturing oil from sesame or kroton or cnecus in any manner whatsoever, or buying sesame oil or cnecus oil or castor oil from any quarter except from the contractors, the king shall decide his punishment, but he shall forfeit to the contractors 3000 drachmas and be deprived of the oil and the produce; and payment of the penalty shall be exacted by the oikonomos and the antigrapheus, and if he is without means, he shall hand himself over---.

(50) - - - on any [pretext], nor bring oil into Alexandria apart from the crown supply. If any persons bring in more than they are likely to use for their own consumption in three days, they shall be deprived both of the goods and of the means of transport, and shall in addition forfeit 100 drachmas for each metretes, and for more or less in proportion.

The butchers shall use up the lard every day in the presence of the oil contractor, and shall not sell it separately to any person on any pretext nor melt it down nor store it up; otherwise both the seller and the buyer shall each forfeit to the oil contractor for every piece that is bought 50 drachmas.

Those who make oil in the temples throughout the country shall declare before the manager of the contract and the agent of the oikonomos and antigrapheus the number of the oil work-shops (51) in each temple and of the mortars and presses in each workshop, and shall exhibit the workshops, and deliver the mortars and presses to be sealed up---. If they fail to make the declaration or to exhibit (the workshops) or to deliver (the implements) to be sealed up, the persons in charge of the temples shall, each of them who is guilty, forfeit to the Crown 3 talents, and to the contractors five times the amount at which the latter estimate the damage. When they wish to manufacture sesame oil in the temples, they shall call in the manager of the contract and the agent of the oikonomos and antigrapheus and make the oil in their presence; and they shall manufacture within two months the amount which they declared that they would consume in the year. But the castor oil which they use they shall obtain from the contractors at the fixed price.

The oikonomos and the antigrapheus shall write down the amounts of castor oil and sesame oil used by each temple and send the list to the king, and shall also give one to the dioiketes. It shall not be lawful to sell to any person any of (52) the oil manufactured for the temples; whoever does so shall be deprived [of the oil], and shall in addition forfeit [100 drachmas] for each metretes, and for more or less in proportion- -.

[It shall not be lawful] to bring [foreign oil] into the country for sale, either from Alexandria or Pelusium or any other place. Whoever does so shall be deprived of the oil, and shall in addition pay a fine of 100 drachmas for each metretes, and for more or less in proportion.

If any persons carry with them foreign oil for their personal use, those who bring it from Alexandria shall declare it in Alexandria, and shall pay down 12 drachmas for each metretes, and for more or less in proportion, and shall obtain a receipt before they bring it inland.

Those who bring it from Pelusium shall pay the tax in Pelusium and obtain a receipt.

The collectors in Alexandria and Pelusium shall place the tax to the credit of the nome to which the oil is brought.

If any persons bringing such oil for their personal use fail to pay the tax or to carry with them the receipt, they shall be deprived of the oil, and shall forfeit in addition 100 drachmas for each metretes. All merchants who carry foreign or Syrian oil from Pelusium across the country to Alexandria shall be exempt from the tax, but shall carry a receipt from the collector stationed at Pelusium and the oikonomos, as is prescribed in the law; likewise for [oil which is brought from ... j to Alexandria (53) - - - and they shall get a receipt from the... ; but otherwise - - - they shall be deprived of the oil.

The [contractors] shall receive the sesame and kroton announced at the auction [as stored up] for each nome within three days from when they take [the contract] ... up to the 27th year and for the sesame and kroton and cnecus the price prescribed in the diagramma issued in the 27th year.

If those laying down the contract leave behind more, they shall receive from the oikonomos the value, 29 dr., 3 ob. per metretes of sesame oil, 20 drachmas per metretes of castor oil, 17 drachmas I obol per metretes of cnecus oil; 8 drachmas per artaba of sesame, 4 drachmas per artaba of kroton, I drachmas 2 obols per artaba of cnecus.

However much oil they announce that they will receive from each nome for the storehouse in Alexandria, we shall receive from them in the nome 19 drachmas 2 obols per metretes of castor oil, and the value shall be set to the credit of the contractors for the next report. The oikonomos shall exhaust first the value of the produce and the wages and the expenses.

(54) - - - They shall have [no authority] to import on any pretext. If they are caught importing, they shall be deprived of the oil. If they do not render an account or show that they have imported all the oil to Alexandria they shall have exacted from them the value of the oil that they cannot show that they have imported, and each of the lessees of the village shall in addition forfeit 3 talents. The confiscated material shall belong to the Crown and it shall be set to the credit of the oil monopoly in the country.

The contractors shall also appoint antigrapheis at Alexandria and Pelusium (to check) the oil which is dispatched from Syria to Pelusium and Alexandria, and these shall keep the storehouses under seal and check the oil as it is issued.

The antigrapheus of the oil contract appointed by the oikonomos shall hold a balancing of accounts with the contractor every month in the presence of the antigrapheus, and he shall write in his books the amount which he has received of (55) each kind of produce and the amount of oil which he has manufactured and sold [at the prices] prescribed in the tariff, [except] the oil which is set apart, and the price of the produce [received] as prescribed in the tariff, ---together with the price of the jars and the other expenses, namely I drachma for each artaba of sesame,. . . for kroton, 2 obols for cnecus,. . . [for colocynth,. . . for linseed, and for each ... artabas made into sesame oil,. . . drachmas], for each 5 artabas [made into castor oil] I drachma I obol, for each 8 artabas made into cnecus oil. . ., for each 7 artabas made into lamp oil I drachma, for each 12 artabas made into colocynth oil I drachma I obol, and the amount out of the profits which is the appointed share of the oil-maker and the contractor, and the expenses, whatever they may be, of the transport of the produce.

The contractors shall receive their pay from the allotted portion of the profits. In Alexandria the wages for making sesame oil and the brokerage and the contractors' pay shall be given in accordance with the proclamation made at the auction.

Search. If the contractors or their subordinates wish to make a search, stating that certain persons are in possession of contraband oil or of oil presses, they shall hold a search in the presence of the agent of the oikonomos or the agent of the antigrapheus, If the agent of the oikonomos or antigrapheus when summoned fails to accompany them or to remain until the search is completed, he shall forfeit to the contractors twice the amount of the latter's valuation of the contraband, and the contractors shall be allowed to make the search [within ... ] days- -.

(56) - - - If the searcher does not find what he professed to be looking for, the person whose property is searched shall have the right to make him swear an oath in a temple that he made the search for no other than its declared object and the interests of the oil contract.

If he fails to take the oath the same day or the day after, he shall forfeit to the person who exacts the oath twice the amount at which he valued the contraband before making the search.

The contractors shall present sureties for a sum exceeding their liabilities by one-twentieth, and the taxes which they collected they shall pay into the bank from day to day, and the installment for each month before the middle of the month following.

(57) Revision of the [law] governing the oil monopoly. We sell the oil monopoly for the country from the month of Gorpiaios of the [27th(?) year], Mesore of the Egyptian calendar, for 2 years [according to the proclamation] that follows - - - the tax on sesame and kroton shall belong to the incoming contractors.

If the number of arouras which we designate as sown is less than the number announced at the auction in each nome, we will furnish from other nomes the deficient amount of sesame and kroton, and the tax on the sesame and kroton provided of 2 drachmas per artaba of sesame and 1 drachma for kroton will belong to them. From the nome from which we export sesame or kroton beyond the amount announced, they shall not collect the tax from the sesame and kroton.

However much (sesame or kroton) we do not give, we shall manufacture through the oikonomos and measure out colocynth oil toward the deficient sesame and oil; and from the colocynth oil we shall take the equal surplus, as much as (they took) from the sesame oil and the sesame; for the castor, we will manufacture through the oikonomos and measure out colocynth oil and linseed oil; from these we shall take the equal surplus, as much as they took from the castor and from the kroton. The contractors shall accompany the manufacturers and keep it under seal.

(58) On the sesame or kroton which [we supply] from each nome, either sesame oil or castor or colocynth [toward the deficit], the contractors of the oil monopoly for the nome from which [we export the surplus shall not exact] any tax.

The oikonomos shall receive the sesame and kroton sown in the separate land and shall furnish it to the oil factory in Alexandria.

We sell the contract for copper and we will take twenty-four obols for a stater. If the yield comes out greater than this, the excess will belong to the Crown.

(59-60.17 repeat 57-68. 60-72 contain a nome by nome breakdown of the number of arouras to be devoted to the production of each oil-bearing crop, sesame and kroton. The section is in parts badly damaged. 73-78 contain ordinances about banks, very fragmentarily preserved. 70-107 held further fragmentary texts concerning other aspects of the royal revenues and monopolies.)


The translation of columns 38-56 here is based on that of Sel. Pap. 203. For cols. 41 and 43, see Cuvigny, Arpentage 16; cols. 14 and 15 are reedited in C.Ptol.Sklav. 7; cols. 24-25 in Pestman, New Primer 3.

Col. 43, amount of land scheduled: That is, in the schedule of crops, cf. 87.


P. Tebt. I  39                                                                                                        114

Oilmaking was a profitable enterprise, and the government monopoly inevitably tempted black-market operators; in this petition a hapless oil-contractor recounts the self-defense of one such illegal producer.

To Menches, komogrammateus of Kerkeosiris, from Apollodoros, contractor for the distribution of and the tax upon oil at the said village for the 4th year. I have already reported to Polemon, the epistates of the village, about my having heard on the 27th of Phaophi that there was at the house of Sisois son of Senapynchis in the shrine of Thoeris... here some contraband oil. When I immediately took Trychambos, the agent of the oikonomos who had been sent for the payment, since you and the other officials did not wish to come with me, to the house alluded to, and descended on it with him, the aforesaid Sisois and his wife Tausiris set upon me and gave me many blows; and having driven us out they shut the door of the temple and of the house. Therefore when on the 4th of Hathyr I encountered Sisois near the temple of Zeus here, and I wished to arrest him, Ineilos the swordbearer and Trychambos being present, Pausiris the brother of Sisois, a porter, and Belles and Demas and Maron son of Takonnos with others whose names I do not know hurled themselves upon us and overpowered us, showering blows on us with the cudgels which they carried; and they wounded my wife on the right hand and myself also, the resulting loss to my contract amounting to 10 talents of copper. I accordingly present to you this statement, in order that you may order the proper officials to exact from them


Translation also in Sel.Pap. 276, some of whose wording has been adopted.

Contractor: Apollodoros is involved not in manufacture but rather the retail distribution and the tax on it.

Thoeris: A hippopotamus goddess.


W.Chr. 300                                                                                                               242-265

Horos, probably the basilikos grammateus but not in the vicinity at the time of writing, writes to the topogrammateus Harmais asking why the superior official has heard nothing from his subordinate about charges coming from travellers from the nome (the Arsinoite) that extortionate prices are being charged for oil, presumably by the contractors from the government. W. Chr. 301, probably in connection with the same affair, is a warning letter to oil-sellers that they will be sent to the dioiketes for judgment if they are caught overcharging.

Horos to Harmais, greeting. I have heard from many persons who have sailed down from the nome that oil is being sold for a higher price than that prescribed in the ordinance, but you have said nothing to me nor have you reported to Imouthes my son, who is on the spot. Even at this late time, then, inform me how the oil is sold in your district, so that I can report to Theogenes the dioiketes. And from now on be careful, if such a thing should happen or the cultivators and the others should suffer extortion or if any other injustice should occur, to write to me or to report to Imouthes my son on the spot, so that it may be sent to me through him and I may report to the dioiketes. Farewell. Year 5, Pauni 16. (Address) To Harmais. (On the reverse is the draft of a reply which reads in part: Harmais to Horos greeting. I have read the letter from you, in which you write about oil being sold at an excessive price; I happen to have written to you previously---.)


On the date and persons see Ancient Society 3 (1972) 111-9, 10 (1979) 159-65.

Imouthes my son: Imouthes apparently succeeded his father in the position of basilikos grammateus not long afterward; despite the foreign rule, the long-standing Egyptian practice of appointing sons to be their father's "staff of old age" and thus successors apparently continued.


P. Tebt. I 35                                                                                                                 267

Myrrh, which along with other aromatic substances was produced under government contract as a monopoly, was probably sold at retail by contractors; but like oil it might also be sold by officials when necessary. This circular letter orders the epistatai of villages not to charge over 40 drachmas of silver for a mina of myrrh, and a public notice appended instructs purchasers not to pay more than this amount. The price is thus fixed, since maximum was also no doubt minimum. It is likely that this sale was an abnormal one, dealing with a supply of myrrh which the retailers were unable for some reason to sell.

Apollonios to the epistatai in the division of Polemon and the other officials, greeting. For the myrrh distributed in the villages no one shall exact more than 40 drachmas of silver for a mina-weight, or in copper 3 talents 2000 drachmas, and 200 drachmas on the talent for carriage; which sum shall be paid not later than Pharmouthi 3 to the collector sent for this purpose. Let the following notice be published with the concurrence of the komogrammateus, who shall sign below the circular with you. Anyone acting contrary to these orders will render himself liable to accusation. We have therefore also sent the swordbearers. Farewell. Year 6, Pharmouthi 2.

Purchasers of myrrh from the epistatai of the various villages and from the other (officials) shall not pay more than 40 drachmas of silver for the mina-weight, or in copper 3 talents 2000 drachmas, and for carriage 200 drachmas on the talent; anyone acting contrary to these orders will render himself liable to accusation.


Cf. the valuable introduction to W. Chr. 309 and the translation as Sel. Pap. 223, from which some phraseology is taken.

Swordbearers: This unexplained reference reinforces the theory that some kind of abnormal forced sale was intended, requiring perhaps an armed guard for the myrrh (or the collector).

[note 5/22: checked against BL, but texts not reread against originals]