ï~~Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 46 (2009) 139-143
The Embolator in Sixth/
Philip Mayerson New York University
The embolator in sixth/seventh-century papyri has nothing to do with
the embole per se. He was involved in depositing money payments
in the state bank.
E.R. Hardy (The Large Estates of Byzantine Egypt) introduced me to the
term e IoX&d wp. In a discussion of the privileges granted to the village of
Aphrodito and to the estate of the Apiones at Oxyrhynchus regarding the embole, Hardy says that there is no direct evidence as to what the estate boatmen
did with the grain they collected for the embole. He then makes this further
statement (p. 57):
The (Apiones) estate was in touch with embolators, presumably
officials charged with collecting the embole, but it is by no means
certain that they had to do with the estate in their official capacity. The
embolators figure most prominently in the accounts as purchasers of
surplus grain. We hear of their receiving fees. But this payment was
on the way to become a separate tax (Footnote includes: Presumably
the embolator was authorized to purchase grain for the embole with
money paid for that tax by adaeratio), and it therefore does not prove
other official contact with the embolators.
A.C. Johnson and L.C. West (Byantine Egypt: Economic Studies) viewed
the embolator in a somewhat different light, saying (p. 327): "The grain from
private estates of Oxyrhynchus was delivered to an official called the embolator.
His place was taken by the osprigites in the later period."