Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 48 (2011) 233-243
Byzantine Egypt Revisited
Giuseppina Azzarello Universitd degli studi di Udine
Review article of Jean Gascou, Fiscaliti et sociiti en Egypte byzantine.
Bilans de recherche 4. Paris: Association des amis du Centre d'histoire
et civilisation de Byzance, 2008. 494 pages and 40 plates. ISBN 978 - 2-916716-15-2.
This volume of articles by Gascou (in what follows referred to as G.) brings
together a significant part of his scholarly work on Late Antiquity, mostly editions, re-editions, and textual criticism. The idea for the book came from C.
Zuckerman, who chose the articles according to their relevance for the themes
indicated by the title: the taxation system and the social institutions and agrarian structures of Byzantine Egypt. The articles represent the main results of G's
research. On the one hand, he has consistently attacked the theory of a feudal
Byzantine society, according to which the big landowners were destroying the
state; on the other hand, he has shown that the Arab administration of Egypt
was not just a continuation of the Byzantine state (cf. "Avantpropos;" pp. 7-8).
The book was put together by the author's wife, Denyse Vaillancourt, who
unfortunately died a short time later.
The volume is important for all those interested in Late Antiquity. Bringing such fundamental contributions together makes their consultation easier,
especially for those who do not have access to well-equipped libraries. It also
makes an original scholarly contribution, as the articles are enriched with updates marked by square brackets. G. revises some of his own opinions, mentions new editions of papyri, new literature, and corrections to papyri in the
BL, adds further observations about specific issues or texts, and corrects typos.
The original page numbers are indicated in the left margin.
The book consists of 23 articles (including three book reviews) - numbered I-XXIII- written by G. over 33 years (1972-2005) and first published in
international journals, Festschriften, and miscellaneous works. Three articles
(VII, XIV, and XVII) were written with K.A. Worp. The contributions are
preceded by an extensive bibliography divided into four main sections: abbreviations mostly of journal names and papyrological reference works (pp.
9-12), literary and legal sources (pp. 12-15), papyri, ostraca, and inscriptions
(pp. 15-22), and literature (pp. 22-42).