ï~~Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 47 (2010) 365-367
Kai Ruffing, Die berufliche Spezialisierung in Handel und Handwerk.
Untersuchungen zu ihrerEntwicklung und zu ihren Bedingungen in der
romischen Kaiserzeit im ostlichen Mittelmeerraum auf der Grundlage
griechischerlInschriften und Papyri. Pharos 24. Rahden: Marie Leidorf,
2008. viii + 914 pages in two parts. ISBN 978-3-86757-252-1.
This monument of erudition, originally a Habilitationsschrift of 2004,
comprises a 520-page podium (Part 2) of data presented as a catalogue, a bibliography, and an index of sources cited (but no general index), and a 400 -page superstructure (Part 1) which collates and interprets the data to answer
historical questions. An unfortunate practical effect of this monumentality is
that both volumes, which are tightly bound, are impossible to open flat, and
require considerable dexterity from any reader who also wants to take notes
or check something in another book. In the digital age, it is legitimate to ask
why the catalogue of evidence was not disseminated as a disk or, even better,
made available on-line where it could have been linked to the growing range of
papyrological and epigraphic instruments of study, and could also be periodically up-dated. If in time that happens, it will be a great boon.
Ruffing's subject is specialisation in crafts and trade in the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire from the time of Augustus through to Late Antiquity
(first to seventh centuries), with some reference to earlier and later periods.
His material for study is restricted to the specific titles for craftsmen and traders attested in the Greek-language papyri and inscriptions, a restriction which
has resulted in a data-base in Part 2 of over 800 titles, each with a full list of
references - ranging from one in some cases to almost 300 in the papyri alone
for tekton (carpenter) - and some comments. The scale of R.s industry is plain
from comparison with the 225 titles for all occupations attested in the Latinspeaking West. R.s project is to use these titles to assess the degree and nature
of craft and trade specialisation across time on the assumption that greater
differentiation in job titles reflects greater economic development, or at least
market activity, in the society which produced them, rather than a fragmentation of skills due to the generally depressed condition of labour in that society.
It is extremely useful to have this corpus of Greek titles to compare and
contrast with previous collections and studies of occupational titles in Latin
sources, although it is a pity that he squashes the epigraphic references into
footnotes instead of more user-friendly tables as for the papyri. The corpus
has immediately revealed interesting details about linguistic developments in
the titles which are common to the papyri and the inscriptions (Egypt was not
exceptional here). The influence of Roman rule, starting with military jargon,
brought a Latinisation of Greek titles by grafting on the adjectival ending -arios