Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 48 (2011) 251-253
Maren Schentuleit and Gunter Vittmann,,,Du hast mein Herz zu friedengestellt... "Ptolemuerzeitliche demotische Urkunden aus Sokno paiu Nesos. Corpus Papyrorum Raineri 29. Berlin and New York: De
Gruyter, 2009. viii + 203 pages + 15 plates. ISBN 978-3-11-020741-5.
The volume under review is an edition of nine Demotic contracts, which
have Greek subscriptions, dating from 142 to 42 BCE. One of them has already
been published (8 =PRZauzich 63) but the new edition has improved on the
readings. The papyri are now in the Austrian National Library but come from
the Fayyum village of Soknopaiou Nesos, where they were found in 1891 before being bought two years later by Archduke Rainer. This isolated village on
the north side of Lake Qarun (ancient Moeris) was only slightly less barren
in antiquity than it is today, holding out with its narrow strip of shore land
and its increasingly saline water. We owe the survival of so many papyri and
ostraca from Soknopaiou Nesos to the abandonment of the village in the late
Roman period, when presumably the lake was no longer potable and the land
no longer fertile. During the Ptolemaic and Roman period, the temple flourished thanks to its popular oracle and its priests' extensive business dealings
with the Fayyum villages across the lake. It is not surprising that the texts from
Soknopaiou Nesos typically stem from this priestly community. This corpus is
no exception. Many of the parties to the contracts belong to families of priests
in which males have the typical Soknopaiou Nesos title, "Lord of Purity and
Overseer of the Great Green Lake of Nephersatis" (1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8).
The volume begins with a brief description of the texts (pp. 2-6) followed
by an overview of the Demotic legal formulas and the Greek subscriptions
(pp. 7-11) as well as general comments about paleography and language (pp.
11-12). The edition and commentary occupy the bulk of the book (pp. 17-118)
and are supplemented with a short essay on the sanctuary of Harpsenesis (pp.
119-121), a bibliography, a word glossary, and a concordance of Greek and
Demotic names (pp. 122-203).
Two documents (1 and 5) are matrimonial property agreements, which
comprise an endowment contract joined to a payment contract, although 5
is fragmentary and contains only part of the payment contract. The object
of these contracts is the wife's scnh, a sum of money she gives to the husband
but can reclaim whenever she wishes. Recognizing the difficulties, the editors
translate it as Versorgung (English "provision") but suggest that it most closely
resembles a kind of loan for the duration of which the husband had to be the
provider for his wife, that is, until she demanded its repayment (pp. 25, n. 2; 26,
n. 5; 30). Since the husband's property served as security and since his mother
and father had a claim to that property because it was part of his inheritance,