ï~~Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 46 (2009) 217-218
Hdlne Cuvigny, Ostraca de Krokodil6. La correspondance militaire
et sa circulation. O.Krok. 1-151. Praesidia du desert de B&rnice 2.
Fouilles de l'Ifao, Vol. 51. Cairo: Institut frangais d'archdologie orientale, 2005. xi + 283 pages. ISBN 2-7247-0370-7.
This volume is the second in the series of publications of the finds from the
excavations carried out at the site of Roman forts in the Eastern desert of Egypt,
along the route from Koptos to Myos Hormos on the Red Sea, in 1996-1997.1
It is the first volume dedicated to the texts unearthed in one of them, the small
fort of Krokodil6. We have 151 ostraca that date from the reign of Trajan and
the beginning of the reign of Hadrian (mostly 108-118); almost two thirds are
military correspondence, while the remaining are dipinti.
Many of the texts included in this volume are unusual; they may appear
less so after the publication of the mass of material found in these Roman forts,
but this is bound to take a very long time. The excavations at Mons Claudianus have unearthed almost ten thousand ostraca; only a portion, though an
important one, has been published in O.Claud. 1-4. The forts on the road to
Myos Hormos have yielded their own four-digit number; the published crop
currently numbers under two hundred. The scholars who have undertaken
the publication of these finds are and will probably remain very few, and there
are limits to one's output. A further complication is that editing this material
requires a fair amount of time spent at the site and in local stores, usually in
less than ideal conditions;2 few, especially among those engaged in teaching,
could afford this time, especially in the winter, the time preferred for work in
Egypt. One can only wish that those involved in the publication of these finds
persevere with their tasks for as long as they are able to.
This volume has already received numerous and occasionally extensive
reviews,3 so that there seems to be little point in summarizing its contents or
even indicating "highlights" here, though perhaps I ought to mention what
struck me most. Apart from reports of delivery of fish by courier, even during
The first was H. Cuvigny (ed.), La route de Myos Hormos. L'armie romaine dans le
desert oriental d',gypte (Cairo 2002), and provides much background information for
the material edited in O.Krok. as well as some new texts.
2 Occasionally further aggravated by the stubborn ignorance of local authorities; cf.
p. 65, n. 8.
3 I am aware of the following: G. Husson, REG 119 (2006) 793-795; M. Schentuleit,
OLZ 101 (2006) 623-625; R.S. Bagnall, BibOr64 (2007) 168-171; J. Bingen, CE 82 (2007)
351-354; A.K. Bowman, JRA 20 (2007) 635-638; T. Kruse, BMCR 2007.01.29; F. Mitthof,
APF 53 (2007) 91-94; A. Verhoogt, CR 58 (2008) 273-275.