The Centre's seminar series continued in Michaelmas Term 1996 with four papers on a wide range of documentary subjects. Short summaries of the papers follow:
Accounting in the Persepolis Fortification Tablets
Roman Duces in Egypt: Some New Evidence
Making the Most of Money: Uses for Small Change
From Inscription to Onomasticon: the Bouthrotos Manumission texts and LGPN
(Maria Brosius, 15 October, 1996)
Dr. Maria Brosius of Queen's College began the Michaelmas seminar series with a discussion of the Persepolis Fortification Tablets. Dr. Brosius first summarised the history of the discovery and publication of the tablets, and then considered a range of issues of interpretation raised by the format and contents of the texts, particularly in relation to the accounting systems in use at Persepolis. Dr. Brosius also discussed prospects for further work on the tablets, based in part on her own recent visit to Tehran during summer 1996.
(Nikolaos Gonis, 29 October, 1996)
The starting point of the paper is a group of five unpublished documentary papyri from Oxyrhynchus, all of them belonging to the Egypt Exploration Society and housed at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Four of them relate to stratelatai, the Greek version of the Latin term dux, and in particular to two well-known individuals, Marcus Aurelius Zeno Ianuarius and Cnaeus Domitius Philippus. Their careers and fortunes have been reconstructed by P. J. Parsons and J. R. Rea in papers published in the Proceedings of the XII International Congress of Papyrologists (1970). With the exception of one text, which presents some unusual features and at the moment is difficult to evaluate, the rest of the new papyri tell us little that is really new as far as these two officials are concerned. But they provide the impetus to re-address the issue of the duces in Egypt, on which more evidence now happens to be available.
After an overview of the careers of Januarius and Philippus, and a brief presentation of the new papyri, these extraordinary officials were compared to similar appointments to the highest echelons of Roman administration in Egypt, as well as other provinces, in the third centry, while later developments were also addressed. Some standard trends of the central government emerged, and the whole phenomenon was viewed within the context of the military and political turmoil which fell upon the Empire in the third century.
(Henry Kim, 12 November)
When did the use of coins become common in the Greek world? Past investigations have answered the question by pointing to the relative absence of small change during the late archaic and early classical periods, pushing the development of a general-purpose money-based economy well into the fifth century. However, recent finds have changed our perception of how plentiful fractional silver coins were, raising the possibility that small change was available in quantity early in the development of coinage. The dies which produced the coins of Coin Hoards I, 3 (early Colophon? c.525) were highlighted as an example of how much coinage could be produced by one early mint. Further examples can be taken from die studies of the mints of Acanthus (P. Tselekas, DPhil thesis 1996), Aegina, Mende, and Abdera, all of which produced small change early in their mint-histories.
As for actual uses for small change, inscriptions provide important information on the use of fractional silver coins in both economic and non-economic contexts. Prices scratched on the bottom of Attic painted pottery early in the fifth century document how obols and smaller fractions were used to mark the value of items in the marketplace. Legal and sanctuary inscriptions document how small change (obols) made its way into the settling of legal fines (IG I(3) 2, a stele from Marathon c.500) and as offerings of fees for initiates in religious ceremonies (LSAG 306, 53, theoria at Andros c.500 - 475; IG I(3) 6, initiation fees for the Eleusinian Mysteries c.460). All of these inscriptions provide key documentary evidence for how early small change began to infiltrate commercial, religious, and legal activities.
(Elaine Matthews, 26 November, 1996)
Elaine Matthews, Editor of the Lexicon of Greek Personal Names, gave a seminar paper on the Bouthrotos manumission texts and LGPN. The paper had the dual aim of explaining the Lexicon's approach to documentary (mainly epigraphical) evidence, which is the greatest source of ancient Greek names, and of drawing attention to the very interesting manumission texts from Bouthrotos in ancient Epirus, modern Albania.
The Lexicon approaches documents for the particular information needed to build up the regional onomastic picture which it is the Lexicon's role to provide: primarily these are names, and the means of placing them in space and in time, though other items such as professions are also taken into account. Sometimes the information needed (a date, an ethnic) is explicitly given in the text, at others it has to be deduced from context; in either case, a knowledge of ancient practice, for example in the use of ethnics, is needed. Finally, the Lexicon must be aware of the publication history of the document, so as to provide the reader with the best route to the text. The Bouthrotos texts have proved challenging in several respects, not least in their complicated publication history. Their immediate historical background was the Third Macedonian War, at the end of which Epirus suffered the destruction of 70 oppida and the enslavement of 150,000 people. The texts are dated by a priest (of Asclepius of Zeus Soter), and by officials of the Koinon of the Prasaiboi. The Prasaiboi are a well-known group, but this Koinon, established around 163 BC, was previously unknown. The texts come mainly from two sites: the hellenistic theatre, where they are inscribed on the parodos wall and the diazoma, and the late Roman wall, where approximately 100 texts were reused to construct a tower. The theatre texts are largely published, and can most conveniently be studied in SEG XXXVIII; the tower texts are largely unpublished. All will appear in the third volume of the Corpus of the Greek inscriptions of Epirus and Southern Illyria, being prepared under the direction of Professor P. Cabanes of Nanterre University, in collaboration with Albanian colleagues. Due to the generosity of Professor Cabanes, the Lexicon has received an advance version of the Corpus, enabling it to include the names in its own Volume IIIA (to be published in September 1997).From these texts, recording over 370 acts of manumission in a mixture of civil and religious formulae, the onomastic pickings are particularly rich: over 1700 individuals, 400 of them women, manumitting over 500 slaves.
They repeatedy show the same individuals, couples, and extended family groups repeatedly manumitting slaves: one family manumits 13 times, one couple free eleven slaves in two days. The repetition offers the opportunity to study naming practices, both within the manumitting families and among the slaves. The names are firmly Greek (not Illyrian), and the slaves rarely have typical slave-names, but instead distinctly Greek names, some of them unique to Bouthrotos. A conspicuous feature is the large representation of women, who may manumit alone but may also appear at the head of a family group. (This is not surprising to those familiar with the documents of the area: a decree of the Kingdom of the Molossoi, dated 370-368 BC, grants a woman and her descendants politeia.) Another striking feature is the occurrence of over 8 ethnics, sub-units of the Prasaiboi; given the limited territory of the Prasaiboi, it is likely that some of these sub-groups were no more than a group of families, perhaps occupying one small hamlet or valley.