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The Private Credit Market, the Bibliotheke Enkteseon, and Public Services in Roman Egypt

  • François Lerouxel (a1)


This article examines the history of the private credit market in Roman Egypt between 30 BCE and approximately 170 CE. After examining how the notion of the market and the New Institutional Economics are employed with regard to ancient economic history, it explains the positive effect that systems of drafting and registering contracts had on the private credit market and, in particular, the role of the bibliotheke enkteseon, created by the Roman administration between 68 and 72. The article concludes with an explanation of how this institution was created by analyzing the interaction between the private credit market and the way public services were financed in the Roman world.



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1. Naphtali Lewis, “ Greco-Roman Egypt: Fact or Fiction?,” in Proceedings of the 12th International Congress of Papyrology, ed. Deborah H. Samuel (Toronto: A. M. Hakkert, 1970), 3-14; Lewis, “ The Romanity of Roman Egypt: A Growing Consensus,” in Atti del XVII Congresso Internazionale di Papirologia (Naples: Centro internazionale per lo studio dei papiri ercolanesi, 1984), 1077-84; Giovanni Geraci, Genesi della provincia romana d’Egitto (Bologna: Clueb, 1983); and Bowman, Alan and Rathbone, Dominic, “Cities and Administration in Roman Egypt,” The Journal of Roman Studies 82 (1992): 10727 .

2. Rathbone, Dominic, “The Ancient Economy and Greco-Roman Egypt,” in Egitto e storia antica dall’ellenismo all’età araba. Bilancio di un confronto, eds. Criscuolo, Lucia and Geraci, Giovanni (Bologna: CLUEB, 1989), 15976 .

3. Rathbone, Dominic, Economic Rationalism and Rural Society in Third-Century A.D. Egypt: The Heroninos Archive and the Appianus Estate (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991 ); Rathbone, , “ Economic Rationalism and the Heroninos Archive,” Topoi Orient-Occident 12/13-1 (2005): 26169 .

4. For an overview, see: Bagnall, Roger, “Evidence and Models for the Economy of Roman Egypt,” in The Ancient Economy: Evidence and Models, eds. Manning, J. G. and Morris, Ian (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005), 187204 ; Rathbone, Dominic, “Roman Egypt,” in The Cambridge Economic History of the Greco-Roman World, eds. Scheidel, Walter, Ian, , and Saller, Richard P. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 698719 .

5. Andreau, Jean and Maucourant, Jérôme, “ À propos de la rationalité économique dans l’Antiquité gréco-romaine. Une interprétation des thèses de D. Rathbone,” Topoi Orient-Occident 9-1 (1999): 47102 ; dossier, Autour de la rationalité économique,” Topoi Orient-Occident 12/13-1 (2005): 259314 .

6. See Bernhard Tenger, Die Verschuldung im römischen Ägypten (1.-2. Jh. n. Chr.) (St Katharinen: Scripta Mercaturae, 1993). This work is presented as a study of economic and social history, notably following two older studies typical of 1960s German legal papyrology: Hanno Kühnert, “ Zum Kreditgeschäft in den hellenistischen Papyri Ägyptens bis Diokletian” (PhD diss., Fribourg, 1965), which examines different types of loan contracts; and Helmut Finckh, Das Zinsrecht der gräko-ägyptischen Papyri (Nuremberg: W. Staudacher, 1962). More recently, see Minnen, Peter Van, “ Money and Credit in Roman Egypt,” in The Monetary Systems of the Greeks and Romans, ed. Harris, William Vernon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 22641 .

7. On the Western Roman Empire, see Jean Andreau, La vie financière dans le monde romain. Les métiers de manieurs d’argent, IVe siècle av. J.-C.-IIIe siècle apr. J.-C. (Rome: École française de Rome, 1987); Andreau, Banque et affaires dans le monde romain, IVe siècle av. J.-C.-IIIe siècle av. J.-C. (Paris: Éd. du Seuil, 2001). On the Eastern Roman Empire, with the exception of Egypt, see Raymond Bogaert, Banques et banquiers dans les cités grecques (Leiden: A. W. Sijthoff, 1968), which also covers the Early Empire period. On Egypt, see Bogaert, , “ Les documents bancaires de l’Égypte gréco-romaine et byzantine,” Ancient Society 31 (2001): 173288 , which includes the prior bibliography on pp. 279-80.

8. Lerouxel, François, “ La banque privée romaine et le marché du crédit dans les tablettes de Murecine et les papyrus d’Égypte romaine,” in technèn, Pistoi dia tèn: Bankers, Loans and Archives in the Ancient World: Studies in Honour of Raymond Bogaert, eds. Verboven, Koenraad, Vandorpe, Katelijn, and Chankowski, Véronique (Louvain: Peeters, 2008), 16998 .

9. Rathbone, Dominic, “ Prices and Price Formation in Roman Egypt,” in Économie antique. Prix et formation des prix dans les économies antiques, eds. Andreau, Jean, Briant, Pierre, and Descat, Raymond (Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges: Musée archéologique départemental, 1998), 183244 .

10. Shaw, Brent D., “ Rural Markets in North Africa and the Political Economy of the Roman Empire,” Antiquités africaines 17 (1981): 3783 ; Johannes Nollé, Nundinas instituere et habere: Epigraphische Zeugnisse zur Einrichtung und Gestaltung von ländlichen Märkten in Afrika und in der Provinz Asia (Hildesheim: Olms, 1982); Claire De Ruyt, Macellum. Marché alimentaire des Romains (Louvain-la-Neuve: Institut supérieur d’archéologie et d’histoire de l’art, 1983); Frayn, Joan M., Markets and Fairs in Roman Italy: Their Social and Economic Importance from the Second Century BC to the Third Century AD (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993 ); Ligt, Lukas De, Fairs and Markets in the Roman Empire: Economic and Social Aspects of Periodic Trade in a Pre-Industrial Society (Amsterdam: J. C. Grieben/ Brill, 1993 ); Cascio, Elio Lo, ed., Mercati permanenti e mercati periodici nel mondo romano (Bari: Edipuglia, 2000 ); Chaouali, Moheddine, “ Les nundinae dans les grands domaines en Afrique du Nord à l’époque romaine,” Antiquités africaines 38-39 (2002-2003): 37586 ; and Andringa, William Van, Quotidien des dieux et des hommes. La vie religieuse dans les cités du Vésuve à l’époque romaine (Rome: École française de Rome, 2009), especially 197-214, on the macellum of Pompeii.

11. On the age-old controversy between primitivists and modernists that divides historians studying the ancient economy, see the following overviews of the Roman field, written in the mid-1990s: Harris, William V., “ Between Archaic and Modern: Some Current Problems in the History of the Roman Economy,” in The Inscribed Economy: Production and Distribution in the Roman Empire in the Light of Instrumentum Domesticum, ed. Harris, William V. (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan/Journal of Roman Archaeology, 1993), 1129 ; Andreau, Jean, “ Présentation. Vingt ans après L’Économie antique de Moses I. Finley,” Annales ESC 50-5 (1995): 94760 .

12. Finley, Moses I., The Ancient Economy (London: Chatto & Windus, 1973), 23 .

13. Ibid., 33-34.

14. Ibid., 33. With regard to the interdependence of markets, Finley does not (logically?) give real criteria for deciding whether the specific markets were so or not.

15. Peter Temin nonetheless wanted to meet the Finleyan challenge in “ A Market Economy in the Early Empire,” Journal of Roman Studies 91 (2001): 169-81. The author takes the exact opposite position of Finley’s theses and comes to deliberately modernist conclusions.

16. On ancient qualitative sources, see: Finley, Moses I., “ Le document et l’histoire économique de l’Antiquité,” Annales ESC 37-5 (1982): 697713 ; Nicolet, Claude, “ Avantpropos,” in Censeurs et publicains. Économie et fiscalité dans la Rome antique, ed. Nicolet, Claude (Paris: Fayard, 2000), 715 , including a bibliography. Current studies aim to develop substitution (proxys) statistics, particularly for evaluating the growth of the Roman economy. See: Bowman, Alan and Wilson, Andrew, Quantifying the Roman Economy: Methods and Problems (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009 ); Scheidel, Walter, “In Search of Roman Economic Growth,” Journal of Roman Archaeology 22 (2009): 4670 ; and Wilson, Andrew, “ Indicators for Roman Economic Growth: A Response,” Journal of Roman Archaeology 22 (2009): 7182 .

17. Finley, Ancient Economy, 25-26.

18. Numerous studies devoted to this topic are collected in Andreau, Jean, Briant, Pierre, and Descat, Raymond, eds., Économie antique. Prix et formation des prix dans les économies antiques (Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges: Musée archéologique départemental, 1998).

19. See, for example, Andreau, Jean, Briant, Pierre, and Descat, Raymond, eds., introduction to Économie antique. Prix et formation des prix dans les économies antiques (Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges: Musée archéologique départemental, 1998), 6 . The same can be seen in Greek economic history. See: Reger, Gary, Regionalism and Change in the Economy of Independent Delos (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), 10 ; Archibald, Zofia H., “ Markets and Exchange: The Structure and Scale of Economic Behaviour in the Hellenistic Age,” in Making, Moving and Managing: The New World of Ancient Economies, 323-31 BC, eds. Archibald, Zofia H., Davies, John K., and Gabrielsen, Vincent (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2005), 18 .

20. For example, on Sicily at the time of Verres’s praetorship, see Andreau, Jean, “ Le prix du blé en Sicile et à Antioche de Pisidie (AE 1925.126b),” in La Sicile de Cicéron. Lectures des Verrines, eds. Dubouloz, Julien and Pittia, Sylvie (Besançon: Presses universitaires de Franche-Comté, 2007), 11125 .

21. On wheat in Roman Egypt, see Rathbone, , “ Prices and Price Formation,” 192 . Rathbone concludes that there was a wheat market integrated in this province of the Empire. For opposing views, see: Erdkamp, Paul, The Grain Market in the Roman Empire: A Social, Political and Economic Study (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), especially 143205 ; Bang, Peter F., The Roman Bazaar: A Comparative Study of Trade and Markets in a Tributary Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), especially 15373 .

22. There was a transitory phase of about sixty years between about 30 BCE and 30 CE separating the former maximum legal rate in the Ptolemaic era (24%) and the new rate.

23. Grenfell, Bernard P. and Hunt, Arthur S., eds., The Oxyrhynchus Papyri (London: Egypt Exploration Fund, 1899), 2:243, introduction on p. 190 .

24. Roll, Eric, A History of Economic Thought, 3rd ed. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1956), 371 . André Tchernia develops a similar argument in “ La question du marché,” chap. 3 of Les Romains et le commerce (Naples: Centre Jean-Bérard/Centre Camille Julienne, 2011), 10131 , especially pp. 101-8. He emphasizes that Eric Roll’s expression “ does not cover a vast spatial expansion of markets but, rather, the huge amount of goods that satisfied consumer or producer needs and the arbitration that constantly existed between them. The markets for different heterogeneous goods and services, and not different places, were interdependent.” Ibid., 108. This theoretical remark precedes a reflection on the goods market, which primarily makes clever use of distribution maps comparing different amphorae carrying a similar product. Tchernia thus relies on the example of oil to show that the geographical areas of the Empire where oils from the Betic corridor, Africa, and Istria were respectively marketed were stable and partially impenetrable. Consequently, a poor harvest in North Africa, for example, would have no impact on the price of oil in areas where oil from Istria was consumed. Further research remains to be done, but Tchernia seems convinced that what is true for oil might be true for other productions. The amphorae, unlike most other ancient sources, therefore allow for spatial reasoning with regard to markets.

25. Walras, Léon, Éléments d’économie politique pure ou théorie de la richesse sociale (Lausanne: L. Corbaz, 1874), 3133 .

26. Béraud, Alain and Faccarello, Gilbert, eds., Nouvelle histoire de la pensée économique, vol. 2, Des premiers mouvements socialistes aux néoclassiques (Paris: Éd. La Découverte, 2000), 309 .

27. The following definition of “ market” is used here: “ any organized system of exchange, however centralized or decentralized, formal or informal. A market may allocate resources based on prices or information or a mixture of both. It may also be imperfect in the sense that the costs of transactions—the difference between what the buyer pays and the seller receives—may be significant. The list of transaction costs is long: for credit, it includes not just fees for arranging loans or drawing up contracts but also taxes, effort expended in finding a suitable lender, losses from a borrower’s default or from a lender’s inopportune demand for repayment, etc.” Hoffman, Philip T., Postel-Vinay, Gilles, and Rosenthal, Jean-Laurent, Priceless Markets: The Political Economy of Credit in Paris, 1660-1870 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 1112 .

28. Margairaz, Dominique and Minard, Philippe, “Le marché dans son histoire,” Revue de synthèse, special issue “Les voies de l’histoire économique. Le marché dans son histoire,” 127-2 (2006): 24152 .

29. North, Douglass C. and Thomas, Robert P., The Rise of the Western World: A New Economic History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973); North, , Structure and Change in Economic History (New York: Norton, 1981); North, , Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990); and North, , Understanding the Process of Economic Change (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005 ).

30. North compares his proposals to those of Karl Marx’s in Structure and Change, 59-63.

31. Ibid., 3 and 5. See also North, Understanding the Process.

32. North, Institutions, Institutional Change, 1. North’s position on the essential question of the effectiveness of institutions evolved, and he ended up stressing that ineffective institutions could endure over long periods of time. See ibid., 7. More recently, North has focused on the genesis of more effective institutions as the origin of economic change. See North, Understanding the Process.

33. North pushes his analysis of the different components of transaction costs probably the furthest in “ Transaction Costs in History,” Journal of European Economic History 14 (1985): 557-76.

34. North, Institutions, Institutional Change, 54-60.

35. Morris and Manning, Ancient Economy; Bang, Peter F., Ikeguchi, Mamoru, and Ziche, Hartmut G., eds., Ancient Economies, Modern Methodologies: Archaeology, Comparative History, Models and Institutions (Bari: Edipuglia, 2006).

36. Scheidel, Morris, and Saller The Cambridge Economic History, 7. The first part, entitled “ Determinants of Economic Performance,” also contains important chapters dedicated to ecology, demography, and technology. Thus, the New Institutional Economics is only one of the paths this work explores, making Peter F. Bang’s review appear partial and misleading. See Bang, Peter F., “The Ancient Economy and New Institutional Economics,Journal of Roman Studies 99 (2009): 194206 .

37. Cascio, Elio Lo, “La ‘New Institutional Economics’ e l’economia imperiale romana,” in Storia romana e storia moderna. Fasi in prospettiva, ed. Pani, Mario (Bari: Edipuglia, 2005), 6983 ; Cascio, Elio Lo, “The Role of State in the Roman Economy: Making Use of the New Institutional Economics,” in Ancient Economies, Modern Methodologies: Archaeology, Comparative History, Models and Institutions, eds. Bang, Peter F., Ikeguchi, Mamoru, and Ziche, Hartmut G. (Bari: Edipuglia, 2006), 21534 ; Bresson, Alain, “Pour une approche néo-institutionnaliste de l’économie antique,” in L’économie de la Grèce des cités, vol. 1, Les structures et la production (Paris: Armand Colin, 2007), 2336 .

38. For Ptolemaic Egypt, see Manning, Joseph G., Land and Power in Ptolemaic Egypt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003 ).

39. From a general point of view, see Frier, Bruce W. and Kehoe, Dennis P., “Law and Economic Institutions,” in The Cambridge Economic History of the Greco-Roman World, eds. Scheidel, Walter, Morris, Ian, and Saller, Richard P. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 11343 .

40. On the importance of the law in the Roman historical experience, see Schiavone, Aldo, Ius. L’invention du droit en Occident (Paris: Belin, 2008 ).

41. For example, see Thomas, Yan, “Travail incorporé dans une matière première, travail d’usage et travail comme marchandise. Le droit comme matrice des catégories économiques à Rome,” in Mentalités et choix économiques des Romains, eds. Andreau, Jean, France, Jérôme, and Pittia, Sylvie (Paris: Ausonius, 2004), 20125 .

42. Kehoe, Dennis P., The Economics of Agriculture on Roman Imperial Estates in North Africa (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1988); Kehoe, , Management and Investment on Estates in Roman Egypt During the Early Roman Empire (Bonn: R. Habelt, 1992); Kehoe, , Investment, Profit, and Tenancy: The Jurists and the Roman Agrarian Economy (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997 ). In these studies, Kehoe is primarily interested in the economic mentality of Roman landowners, concluding that they preferred a safe strategy guaranteeing stable revenues to a riskier strategy aiming to maximize short-term profit.

43. Kehoe, Dennis P., Law and Rural Economy in the Roman Empire (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2007 ).

44. Ibid., 11 and 194.

45. See also Terpstra, Taco, “Roman Law, Transactions Costs and the Roman Economy: Evidence from the Sulpicii Archive,” in Pistoi dia tèn technèn: Bankers, Loans and Archives in the Ancient World: Studies in Honour of Raymond Bogaert, eds. Verboven, Koenraad, Vandorpe, Katelijn, and Chankowski, Véronique (Louvain: Peeters, 2008), 345369 . On page 354, Terpstra notes that the genesis of institutions, even formal ones, was a long and complex process.

46. Bresson, Alain, La cité marchande (Paris: Ausonius, 2000), 272 .

47. Ibid., 273. The opposition Bresson describes between an East dominated by redistribution and the Greek city-states dominated by market exchange does not, however, seem acceptable.

48. Raymond Descat’s position, which extends beyond the framework of this article, deserves to be mentioned because of its theoretical importance and originality. Although most historians are interested in the formation of prices during exchange, at the moment when suppliers met demanders, Descat defends the idea that prices at the agora were determined before trading took place, not between suppliers and demanders but between suppliers and magistrates, when the former declared the prices of their merchandise to the latter. See Descat, Raymond, “Le marché dans l’économie de la Grèce antique,” Revue de synthèse 127-2 (2006): 26469 . Bresson appears to defend a different position in La cité marchande, 273.

49. This is again the case in Bresson, Alain, “Marché et prix à Délos. Charbon, bois, porc, huile et grains,” in Approches de l’économie hellénistique (Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges: Musée archéologique départemental, 2006), 31141 .

50. For example, see Bresson, La cité marchande, 290 (on the essential role of the city-state in compelling individuals to respect their contractual agreements) and 307 (on the need for the regulating intervention of the city-state to create the conditions for the existence of a market).

51. Bresson, L’économie de la Grèce des cités, vol. 1; Bresson, L’économie de la Grèce des cités (fin VIe-Ier siècle av. J.-C.), vol. 2, Les espaces de l’échange (Paris: Armand Colin, 2008).

52. For example, see: Giardina, Andrea and Schiavone, Aldo, Società romana e produzione schiavistica, vol. 1, L’Italia: Insediamenti e forme economiche; vol. 2, Merci, mercati e scambi; and vol. 3, Modelli etici, diritto e trasformazioni sociali (Rome: Laterza, 1981); and Garlan, Yvon, Les esclaves en Grèce ancienne (Paris: François Maspéro, 1982). See also the more recent Andreau, Jean and Descat, Raymond, Esclave en Grèce et à Rome (Paris: Hachette Littératures, 2006 ).

53. The following texts provide two examples of this approach, in which sources only have an illustrative value: on the neoclassical theory, see Silver, Morris, “ Finding the Roman Empire’s Disappeared Deposit Bankers,” Historia 60-3 (2011): 30127 ; on Karl Polanyi, see Maucourant, Jérôme, “ Le troc et la monnaie dans la pensée de K. Polanyi,” in Autour de Polanyi. Vocabulaires, théories et modalités des échanges, eds. Clancier, Philippe et al. (Paris: De Boccard, 2005), 3343 .

54. Bang, Roman Bazaar, 139-45.

55. Ibid., 195.

56. Ibid., 202-38.

57. Rathbone, , “ Economic Rationalism,” 267 .

58. See: Wolff, Hans Julius, Das Recht der griechischen Papyri Ägyptens in der Zeit der Ptolemaeer und des Prinzipats, vol. 2, Organisation und Kontrolle des privaten Rechtsverkehrs (Munich: C. H. Beck, 1978); Burkhalter, Fabienne, “ Archives locales et archives centrales en Égypte romaine,” Chiron 20 (1990): 191216 ; and Yiftach-Firanko, Uri, “ Law in Greco-Roman Egypt: Hellenization, Fusion, Romanization,” in Oxford Handbook of Papyrology, ed. Bagnall, Roger S. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 54160 .

59. William V. Harris’s hypothesis concerning the singular use of writing with regard to private affairs in Roman Egypt serves as a reminder of the now dated idea of an Egyptian exception in the Roman Empire. See Harris, William V., Ancient Literacy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989), 202 . It seems necessary to posit the opposite hypothesis in order to study the traces of documentary writing found in other regions of the Roman world, where the conditions for conserving documentary evidence of daily practice were much less favorable than in Egypt. Roger Bagnall has pursued this line of inquiry for the Hellenistic East: see Bagnall, Roger, “ The Ubiquity of Documents in the Hellenistic East,” in Everyday Writing in the Graeco-Roman East (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011), 2753 . On the Roman era, the “ La Mémoire Perdue” project led by Claude Nicolet and Claudia Moatti has successfully examined public administrative archives: see Andreau, Jean et al., La mémoire perdue. À la recherche des archives oubliées, publiques et privées de la Rome antique (Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 1994); Carrié, Jean-Michel et al., La mémoire perdue. Recherches sur l’administration romaine (Rome: École française de Rome, 1998); Moatti, Claudia, “ La mémoire perdue. Recherches sur l’administration romaine : le cas des archives judiciaires pénales,” Mélanges de l’École française de Rome. Antiquité 112-2 (2000): 647779 ; and Moatti, , “ La mémoire perdue. Recherches sur l’administration romaine : les documents du census ,” Mélanges de l’École française de Rome. Antiquité 113-2 (2001): 559764 . See also Moatti, , Archives et partage de la terre dans le monde romain (IIe siècle av. J.-C.-Ier siècle apr. J.-C.) (Rome: École française de Rome, 1993).

60. Boak, Arthur Edward Romilly, ed., Michigan Papyri (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1933), II:121 ; ibid., II:123; and Husselman, Elinor M., Boak, Arthur Edward Romilly, and William F., , eds., Michigan Papyri (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1944), V:238 .

61. Burkhalter, “ Archives locales,” 211.

62. The bibliotheke enkteseon was formally established on this date, but the project had been under way since the middle of the first century CE. On the bibliotheke enkteseon, see: Wolff, Das Recht der griechischen Papyri Ägyptens, 222-55; Burkhalter, “ Archives locales”; Maresch, Klaus, “ Die Bibliotheke Enkteseon im römischen Ägypten. Überlegungen zur Funktion zentraler Besitzarchive,” Archiv für Papyrus-forschung und verwandte Gebiete 48-1 (2002): 23346 ; Lerouxel, François, “ Les femmes sur le marché du crédit en Égypte romaine (30 av. J.-C.-284-apr. J.-C.). Une approche néo-institutionnaliste,” Les Cahiers du Centre de Recherches Historiques 37 (2006): 12136 ; Jördens, Andrea, “ Öffentliche archive und römische Rechtspolitik,” in Lembke, Katja, Minas-Nerpel, Martina, and Pfeiffer, Stefan, eds., Tradition and Transformation: Egypt Under Roman Rule (Leiden: Brill, 2010), 15979 ; Jördens, , “ Nochmals zur Bibliotheke Enkteseon,” in Symposion 2009, ed. Thür, Gerhard (Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2010), 27790 ; and Yiftach-Firanko, Uri, “ Comments on Andrea Jördens, ‘Nochmals zur Bibliotheke Enkteseon,’” in Symposion 2009, ed. Thür, Gerhard (Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2010), 29199 .

63. Rathbone, “ Prices and Price Formation.”

64. In Die Verschuldung im römischen Ägypten, Bernhard Tenger simply calculates the averages by half-centuries (0-50 CE, 50-100 CE, 100-150 CE, 150-200 CE) without trying to identify a specific periodization for the history of credit.

65. These typologies are important in the following works: Tenger, Die Verschuldung im römischen Ägypten; Kühnert, “ Zum Kreditgeschäft.”

66. Lerouxel, “ Les femmes sur le marché du crédit.”

67. Foraboschi, Daniele and Gara, Alessandra, “ L’economia dei crediti in natura (Egitto),” Athenaeum, n.s. 60 (1982), 70 . On credit in the Ptolemaic era, see: Rupprecht, Hans-Albert, Untersuchungen zum Darlehen im Recht der graeco-aegyptischen Papyri der Ptolemäerzeit (Munich: C. H. Beck, 1967); Reden, Sitta von, Money in Ptolemaic Egypt: From the Macedonian Conquest to the End of the Third Century BC (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007).

68. On money in Roman Egypt, see Christiansen, Erik, Coinage in Roman Egypt: The Hoard Evidence (Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 2004); Duyrat, Frédérique and Picard, Olivier, eds., L’exception égyptienne ? Production et échanges monétaires en Égypte hellénistique et romaine (Cairo: IFAO, 2005).

69. Pieter Pestman estimates that a single adult could have fed himself or herself with ten artabes of wheat per year (an artabe is a unit of measurement equal to approximately forty liters). See Pestman, Pieter W., The New Papyrological Primer (Leiden: Brill, 1990), 49 . An artabe of wheat during this period cost between six and twelve drachmas. See Rathbone, “ Prices and Price Formation,” 191.

70. Almost no transaction exceeded one year. The 12% rate only became prevalent around 30 CE, after a transition period between the old Ptolemaic nominal rate and the new Roman nominal rate. See p. 635 of this article.

71. This type of guarantee did not permit the borrowing of greater than average amounts. Houses had a relatively small monetary value in the Egyptian villages and were, for example, worth much less than slaves. The one en pistei is not recorded in Oxyrhynchus.

72. Lerouxel, “ Les femmes sur le marché du crédit.”

73. The price level was twice as high as in the previous period.

74. Bilabel, Friedrich, Kiessling, Emil, and Rupprecht, Hans-Albert, eds., Sammelbuch griechischer Urkunden aus Aegypten (Wiesbaden: O. Harrassowitz, 1976-1977).

75. This is not the case of the Campania tablets, for which contractors used two forms of guarantees. See Gröschler, Peter, “ Die Mittel der Kreditsicherung in den tabulae ceratae ,” in Pistoi dia tèn technèn: Bankers, Loans and Archives in the Ancient World: Studies in Honour of Raymond Bogaert, eds. Verboven, Koenraad, Vandorpe, Katelijn, and Chankowski, Véronique (Louvain: Peeters, 2008), 30120 .

76. In the Greek field, see Finley, Moses I., Studies in Land and Credit in Ancient Athens, 500-200 BC (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1951).

77. Appian, Roman History, book 13, Civil Wars 1.37-40.

78. For example, see Schwarz, Andreas B., Hypothek und Hypallagma: Beitrag zum Pfandund Vollstreckungsrecht der griechischen Papyri (Leipzig: Teubner, 1911).

79. In the papyrus P.Oxy. 2 237, the actual text of M. Mettius Rufus’s edict is found in column 8, ll. 27-43. Translated into English under the reference Sel.Pap. 2.219 in Hunt, Arthur S. and Edgar, Campbell C., trans. Select Papyri, vol. 2, Non-Literary Papyri, Public Documents (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1963) 1058 .

80. The prefect M. Mettius Rufus’s edict was published in 1899. Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt have immediately stressed the importance of this document.

81. Uri Yiftach-Firanko’s work departs from the essentialist tradition of legal papyrology, relying on a database of private contracts in Roman Egypt that makes it possible to precisely evaluate the historical evolution of contractual practices. See: Yiftach-Firanko, Uri, “ The Cheirographon and the Privatization of Scribal Activity in Early Roman Oxyrhynchos,” in Symposion 2007. Vorträge zur griechischen und hellenistischen Rechtsgeschichte, eds. Harris, Edward and Thür, Gerhard (Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2008), 32540 ; Yiftach-Firanko, “ Comments on Andrea Jördens.”

82. See Harris, William V., “ A Revisionist View of Roman Money,” Journal of Roman Studies 96 (2006): 124 . In this article, characterized by a modernist take on the nature of Roman money, the author defends the idea—which seems primitivist—that economic information, beyond personal ties, was rare and unreliable on the Roman credit markets. According to Harris, this was inevitable in any culture prior to the invention of printing. For Egypt at least, this idea is much too pessimistic. More broadly, the system of drafting and recording private contracts along with the archiving of public documents show that many residents of Roman Egypt used writing when handling private and public affairs, indicating that the phenomenon was far from limited to the urban elite.

83. On the Roman administration’s goals when establishing the bibliotheke enkteseon, see: Woess, Friedrich von, Untersuchungen über das Urkundenwesen und den Publizitätsschutz im römischen Ägypten (Munich: C. H. Beck, 1924); Wolff, Das Recht der griechischen Papyri Ägyptens, 245-54; Maresch, “ Die Bibliotheke Enkteseon”; Jördens, “ Öffentliche archive”; Jördens, “ Nochmals zur Bibliotheke Enkteseon”; and Yiftach-Firanko, “ Comments on Andrea Jördens.”

84. Maresch, “ Die Bibliotheke Enkteseon.”

85. Jördens, Andrea, Statthalterliche Verwaltung in der römischen Kaiserzeit: Studien zum “ praefectus Aegypti” (Stuttgart: F. Steiner, 2009).

86. Jördens, “ Öffentliche archive”; Jördens, “ Nochmals zur Bibliotheke Enkteseon.”

87. Yiftach-Firanko, “ Comments on Andrea Jördens.”

88. On imperial taxation, see Cascio, Elio Lo, “ La struttura fiscale dell’Impero romano,” in Il princeps e il suo impero: studi di storia amministrativa e finanziaria romana (Bari: Edipuglia, 2000), 177203 . On the implementation of this taxation in the Augustan period, see: Rathbone, Dominic, “ Egypt, Augustus and Roman Taxation,” Cahiers du Centre Gustave Glotz 4 (1993): 81112 ; France, Jérôme, “ La mise en place de l’impôt provincial sous le règne d’Auguste en Aquitaine et dans le nord de l’Hispanie. Un bilan,” L’Aquitaine et l’Hispanie septentrionale à l’époque julio-claudienne. Organisation et exploitation des espaces provinciaux, in ed. Sillières, Pierre (Pessac: Fédération Aquitania, 2005), 6593 ; and Jördens, Statthalterliche Verwaltung.

89. With three or four exceptions, there were no city-states in Roman Egypt before 200-201. However, the nome capitals were engaged in a process of municipalization during the first two centuries CE. Hereafter, I equate capitals with city-states to facilitate the comparison with the rest of the Empire. See: Bowman and Rathbone, “ Cities and Administration in Roman Egypt”; Jördens, Andrea, “ Verhältnis der Amtsträger in Ägypten zu den Städten’ in der Provinz,” in Lokale Autonomie und römische Ordnungsmacht in den kaiserzeitlichen Provinzen vom 1. bis 3. Jahrhundert, ed. Eck, Werner (Munich: R. Oldenburg Verlag, 1998); and Hagedorn, Dieter, “ The Emergence of Municipal Offices in the Nome-Capitals of Egypt,” in Oxyrhynchus: A City and Its Texts, eds. Bowman, Alan et al. (London: Egypt Exploration Society, 2007), 194204 .

90. On the city-states’ finances, see Il capitolo delle entrate nelle finanze municipali in Occidente ed in Oriente (Rome: École française de Rome, 1999). The imperial state also used this type of taxation. See, for example, France, Jérôme, Galliarum, Quadragesima. L’organisation douanière des provinces alpestres, gauloises et germaniques de l’Empire romain (Rome: École française de Rome, 2001).

91. Aubert, Jean-Jacques, ed., Tâches publiques et entreprise privée dans le monde romain (Geneva: Droz, 2003).

92. Andreau, Banque et affaires, 205-27; Andreau, , “ Existait-il une dette publique dans l’Antiquité romaine ?,” in La dette publique dans l’histoire, eds. Andreau, Jean, Béaur, Gérard, and Grenier, Jean-Yves (Paris: Comité pour l’histoire économique et financière de la France, 2006), 10114 .

93. This type of liturgy is of interest here. Another type of compulsory public service in Roman Egypt, to borrow Naphtali Lewis’s terminology, was performed not by prominent citizens, but by the villagers and city dwellers outside the bouleutic class. This included, for example, an annual duty of five working days devoted to the maintenance of public dikes and canals, which were an essential part of agriculture in the province.

94. For a general introduction to liturgies in Roman Egypt, see: Lewis, Naphtali, Life in Egypt Under Roman Rule (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983), 17784 ; Oertel, Friedrich, Die Liturgie. Studien zur ptolemäischen und kaiserlichen Verwaltung Ägyptens (Leipzig: Teubner, 1917). See also Lewis, Naphtali, The Compulsory Public Services of Roman Egypt (Florence: Edizioni Gonnelli, 1982; repr. 1997); Hagedorn, “ The Emergence of Municipal Offices.”

95. For example, see P.Oxy. 12 1405.

96. Grenier, Jean-Yves, “ Introduction. Dettes d’État, dette publique,” in La dette publique dans l’histoire, eds. Andreau, Jean, Béaur, Gérard, and Grenier, Jean-Yves (Paris: Comité pour l’histoire économique et financière de la France, 2006), 119 .

97. See Migeotte, Léopold, “ L’endettement des cités grecques dans l’Antiquité,” in La dette publique dans l’histoire, eds. Andreau, Jean, Béaur, Gérard, and Grenier, Jean-Yves (Paris: Comité pour l’histoire économique et financière de la France, 2006), 11528 . Migeotte views the voluntary practice of euergetism as complementary to public borrowing. However, he does not analyze the liturgies.

98. Gessel, Christian Van, “ Praedes, praedia, cognitores. Les sûretés réelles et personnelles de l’adjudicataire du contrat public en droit romain (textes et réflexion),” in Tâches publiques et entreprise privée dans le monde romain, ed. Aubert, Jean-Jacques (Geneva: Droz, 2003), 95122 ; Lewis, Compulsory Public Services, 73-74.

99. See Chalon, Gérard, L’édit du préfet Tiberius Iulius Alexander. Étude historique et exégétique (Lausanne: Urs Graf Verlag, 1964).

100. Johnson, Alan C., An Economic Survey of Ancient Rome, vol. 2, Roman Egypt to the Reign of Diocletian, eds. Frank, Tenney et al. (Paterson: Pageant Books, 1959), 7049 (translation slightly modified by the author of this article).

101. The chronological coincidence between the development of liturgies and the establishment of the bibliotheke enkteseon does not seem accidental, even if the explanation here differs from the one offered by Klaus Maresch.

102. Lewis, “ Greco-Roman Egypt,” 7.

103. Thomas, John D., “ Compulsory Public Service in Roman Egypt,” in Das römischbyzantinische Ägypten, eds. Grimm, Günter, Heinen, Heinz, and Winter, Erich (Mainz: P. von Zabern, 1983), 3540 .

104. Lewis, Compulsory Public Services, 79.

105. From a general point of view, see Andreau, Jean, Béaur, Gérard, and Grenier, Jean-Yves, eds., La dette publique dans l’histoire (Paris: Comité pour l’histoire économique et financière de la France, 2006).

106. Lamouroux, Christian, “ Endettement public, Trésor impérial et monnaie dans la Chine des Xe et XIe siècles,” in La dette publique dans l’histoire, eds. Andreau, Jean, Béaur, Gérard, and Grenier, Jean-Yves (Paris: Comité pour l’histoire économique et financière de la France, 2006), 12974 ; Carré, Guillaume, “ Les dettes d’un régime. Le legs financier de la période d’Edo et son règlement par les gouvernements japonais de Meiji,” in La dette publique dans l’histoire, eds. Andreau, Jean, Béaur, Gérard, and Grenier, Jean-Yves (Paris: Comité pour l’histoire économique et financière de la France, 2006), 33565 .

107. See: Grenier, “ Introduction”; Andreau, “ Existait-il une dette.”

108. Migeotte, “ L’endettement des cités grecques,” 127.

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The Private Credit Market, the Bibliotheke Enkteseon, and Public Services in Roman Egypt

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