ï~~Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 44 (2007) 243-244
Werner Diem, Arabischer Terminkauf Ein Beitrag zur Rechts- und
Wirtschaftsgeschichte Agyptens im 8. bis 14. Jahrhundert. Wiesbaden:
Harrassowitz, 2006. 187 pages + 3 plates. ISBN 3-447-05482-4.
This monograph includes an introduction, five chapters, the last of which
includes the edition of three dhikr haqq, 42 tables, an appendix on weights,
and three indices: persons and groups; topography and geography; and things,
concepts, and terms.
The study provides extended commentary on documents that begin dhikr
haqq, the meaning of which has been variously translated and understood. In
the first chapter, "Rechtsform," Diem convincingly argues that these documents are the debtor's acknowledgment of a claim against him (Anrechtsschein), recording either a debt or a sale on future delivery. He also convincingly argues that the iqrar, Anerkenntnis, is a much broader category including,
for example, acknowledgment of a debt, or quittance. In fact, iqrar is also the
term used in sales contracts that have been the subject of several recent papyrological studies not cited by Diem.
In the second chapter, arguably the more important of the two main chapters, Egyptian documentary formulary is compared with Egyptian and Eastern
juridical formularies. Diem establishes that documentary and juridical formulary for sales on future delivery correspond when the dhikr haqq is for wheat,
but that there is very little correspondence between juridical and documentary
formulary for any other products or for chattels. Whether formulary varied or
changed across time and space is not addressed. The short fourth chapter finds
similar disparity between Andalusian documentary and juridical formulary.
The third chapter, "Terminkauf von Agrarprodukten in Agypten," includes a large number of tables. The tables are not easy to interpret, as unfortunately their parameters are unclear. For example, how many discrete cases
does the corpus comprise, how many discrete cases per century, per location,
is never made clear. If one counts the entries in Table 1 (which incorporates
Table 10), there would seem to be 93 documents dating from the late second to
the ninth century AH, with one document from each end of this chronological
spectrum. But five documents (from Table 10) involve the same individual in
the same year, and so these would count not as five discrete cases in a data
base, but as one.
As an example of the importance of acknowledging the parameters of
one's data base, in Table 33, "Contracts by Province," Diem cites four documents dating from the third century in which a creditor bears a Coptic name
and eight documents from the sixth century with an Arabic-named creditor as