ï~~Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 47 (2010) 225-229 The Pharanitai in Sinai and in Egypt Philip Mayerson New York University Abstract Discussion of the unit (ala) of Pharanitai at Bau in the Antaeopolite nome in PFlor. 3.297, now PRReg.Fisc., of AD 525/6. The appearance in 11.192, 219, 302 of PFlor. 3.297, now PRReg.Fisc., dated to AD 525/6, of a military unit named for Pharan in Sinai and stationed at a site near Antaeopolis in Egypt called Bau is unusual for several reasons. Unlike the later military units of the Justinian Scythians and the Justinian Numidians stationed at or near Antaeopolis that were named for imperial provinces and also carried the name of the emperor, the Pharanitai had no claim to such distinction. As their name suggests, when the first units of Pharanitai were created, they were drawn from a small, inhabited site, Pharan, in the remote reaches of the Sinai Peninsula, which Ptolemy called a village and Eusebius a city. Despite differences in size and background these military units faced the same problems as the Scythian and Numidian forces: desert marauders threatening settled communities. In Egypt, the Blemmyes or their like were the malefactors; in Sinai it was the tribal Bedouin. To meet these threats to unprotected settlements, especially those on the frontier, the imperial government created military forces out of local populations with expertise in horsemanship and archery, or by forming camel corps, such as the "Most Loyal Theodosians" that were stationed at Nessana on the border between Palestine and Sinai. The Pharanitai at Bau may have made up such a military unit.1 The position of Pharan, close to a perennial source of water and on the west-north-western route from Aila (Aqaba) through Sinai to Egypt, made the site a way-station for Nabataean and earlier travelers as is attested to by the 1 Other occurrances of Pharanitai in the DDBDP: PRCair.Masp. 67054.2.8, an unnamed Pharanite at Bau receives one solidus as a gratuity; SB 14.11854.7-8, Philoxenos and Justus; P.Lond. 5.1735.24, Flavius Victor the son of John, a member of a numerus at Bau; POxy. 68.4700.3-5, Flavius Serenus son of Antiochus, a member of a numerus from the splendid city of Oxyrhynchus.
    Top of page Top of page