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P.Mich. inv. 975 and papyri involving the town council of Antinoopolis

François Gerardin

The town councils of the Hellenistic world have been intensely investigated in studies by the epigraphers Friedemann Quass and Patrice Hamon. They focused on inscriptions from Asia Minor and mainland Greece and sketched the transitions from the councils of early Hellenistic Greece into the late Hellenistic and Roman periods. Ptolemaic Egypt famously possessed few cities with Greek-style constitutions, with evidence being sparse for Ptolemais in Upper Egypt (OGIS 47-49) and even less so for Naukratis; whether or not Alexandria possessed a βουλή remains a matter of dispute (Acta Alexandrinorum 1, ed. H. Musurillo, 1954). This paper examines anew the evidence for the town council at Antinoopolis, relying principally upon SB XVIII 13174 (= P. Stras. Gr. 1168), originally published by Ulrich Wilcken in Archiv für Papyrusforschung 4, 1908, 115-16, and the editio princeps of P. Mich. inv. 975 — the publication of which was assigned to me during the 8th Summer Institute in Papyrology, hosted by the Universities of Chicago and Illinois (Urbana) in 2012.

After the pioneering work of Pierre Jouguet and Alan Bowman's The town councils of Roman Egypt (Amer.Stud.Pap. 11, 1971), source materials for the Greek-style cities in Roman Egypt have not been comprehensively studied. I begin by underscoring how detailed work on the structures and officers operating at the metropolitan level of government after AD 200, as well as in a Greek city such as Antinoopolis after its foundation in AD 130, helps flesh out our understanding of the urban structure of Roman Egypt. Investigating the elites and their roles in local governmental affairs, the officers of the councils and the counselors themselves (ἄρχοντεϲ, and βουλευταί) provides another means to approach and assess the so-called exceptionalism of Roman Egypt (Sonderstellung). I attempt to reconstruct the workings of the Antinoite βουλή, analyzing expenses for the construction and upkeep of public buildings (thus, [εἰϲ τὰ βαλα]νεῖα, line 3 of the Michigan fragment) and other involvements with town monetary policies, such as the “city fund” (πολιτικὸϲ λόγοϲ, line 5). I conclude my paper by trying to answer what type of documentary papyrus the Michigan fragment represents. In sum, this paper presents highlights from important papyri involving the βουλή of Antinoopolis (the previously unpublished P.Mich. inv. 975 and three papyri originally published by Wilcken, W.Chr. 27 and 28 and SB XVIII 13174).

Session/Panel Title:

Culture and Society in Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Egypt

Session/Paper Number

9.2

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