ï~~Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 44 (2007) 75-86
An Estate Overseer's Work Contract
and the Meaning of Exotikoi Topoi'
Amin Benaissa University of Oxford
An edition of a work contract between an estate and an overseer
(rpovogric) of a part of its domains. The text stipulates that any
arrears from Kt1rgatra or (OrtKO Trrcot are the responsibility of the
overseer. A discussion of the latter expression follows.
The following papyrus, currently housed in Yale's Beinecke Library, is a
fragment from a work contract between an estate and an overseer (rcpovogrq't)
of a part of its domains. Its main claim of interest is that it is several decades
earlier than the only other two published contracts of this type, P Oxy. 1.136
= WChr. 383 (583 CE) and P.Oxy. 58.3952 (610), both of which belong to the
well-known archive of the "Apion" estate;2 cf. also ROxy. 16.1894 (573), a work
contract for a iko6tog of an overseer, and P.Lond. inv. 2219 mentioned in the
The preserved portion of this contract has a parallel specifically in R Oxy.
136.23-31 and 3952.25-36, on the basis of which its missing left part is restored
My thanks to Dr. Robert Babcock of the Beinecke Library for permission to publish
the following papyrus and to Dr. Nikolaos Gonis for reading a draft of this article. I am
also grateful to Dr. T.M. Hickey for supplying relevant readings from his preliminary
transcript of P.Lond. inv. 2219. The image of the papyrus can be viewed on-line at http://
beinecke.library.yale.edu/papyrus/ under inventory number 325.
2 On these two documents, see most recently P. Sarris, Economy and Society in the
Age ofJustinian (Cambridge 2006) 51-55. On the Apionic upovoyccd, who were responsible for the close administration of a particular district (npovoqoiact, npocactoact) of the
estate, see further R. Mazza, L'archivio degli Apioni: terra, lavoro e proprietd senatoria
nell'Egitto tardoantico (Bari 2001) 83, 138-144. For some older discussions, see E.R.
Hardy, The Large Estates of Byzantine Egypt (New York 1931) 88-93; A.C. Johnson and
L.C. West, Byzantine Egypt: Economic Studies (Princeton 1949) 58-62; and J. Gascou,
"Les grands domaines, la cite et l'etat en Egypte byzantine," T&MByz 9 (1985) 1-89, at