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GRAECA TERGESTINA

STORIA E CIVILTÀ 1
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Legal Documents in Ancient Societies
www.ldas-conf.com
Steering Committee: Sophie Démare-Lafont, Mark Depauw,
Michele Faraguna, Éva Jakab, Dennis P. Kehoe, Uri Yiftach-Firanko
Con il contributo di:
Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca
PRIN 2008 – La burocrazia greca: definizione e funzionamento
dei procedimenti amministrativi nel mondo antico
Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici – Università degli Studi di Trieste
Legal Documents in Ancient Societies IV
Archives and
Archival Documents
in Ancient Societies
Trieste
30 September-1 October 2011
edited by
Michele Faraguna
EUT EDIZIONI UNIVERSITÀ DI TRIESTE
4
Contents
Michele Faraguna (Trieste)
7 Foreword
Dennis Kehoe (New Orleans)
11 Archives and Archival Documents
in Ancient Societies: Introduction
Ancient Near East
Sophie Démare-Lafont (Paris)
23 Zero and Infinity: the Archives
in Mesopotamia
Klaas R. Veenhof (Leiden)
27 The Archives of Old Assyrian Traders:
their Nature, Functions and Use
Antoine Jacquet (Paris)
63 Family Archives in Mesopotamia
during the Old Babylonian Period
Susanne Paulus (Münster)
87 The Limits of Middle Babylonian
Archives
Classical Greece
Christophe Pébarthe (Bordeaux)
107 Les archives de la cité de raison.
Démocratie athénienne et pratiques
documentaires à l’époque classique
Shimon Epstein (Tel-Aviv /Freiburg)
127 Attic Building Accounts from
Euthynae to Stelae
Edward M. Harris (Durham)
143 The Plaint in Athenian Law
and Legal Procedure
Michele Faraguna (Trieste)
163 Archives in Classical Greece:
Some Observations
The Persian Tradition
and the Hellenistic World
Ingo Kottsieper (Göttingen)
175 Aramäische Archive aus
achämenidischer Zeit und ihre
Funktion
5
Laura Boffo (Trieste)
201 La ‘presenza’ dei re negli archivi
delle poleis ellenistiche
Lucia Criscuolo (Bologna)
245 Copie, malacopie, copie d'ufficio
e il problema della titolarità
di un archivio nell’Egitto tolemaico
Mark Depauw (Leuven)
259 Reflections on Reconstructing
Private and Official Archives
The Roman Empire
Éva Jakab (Szeged)
269 Introduction: Archives in the Roman
Empire
Kaja Harter-Uibopuu (Wien)
273 Epigraphische Quellen zum
Archivwesen in den griechischen
Poleis des ausgehenden Hellenismus
und der Kaiserzeit
Thomas Kruse (Wien)
307 Bevölkerungskontrolle,
Statuszugang und Archivpraxis
im römischen Ägypten
Rudolf Haensch (München)
333 Die Statthalterarchive
der Spätantike
Uri Yiftach-Firanko (Jerusalem)
351 Conclusions
363 Index locorum
7
foreword
Foreword
To Lisetta Brunner
The research group Legal Documents in Ancient Societies aims to investigate the
legal and administrative systems in a variety of societies of the ancient world
through a document-based approach, crossing traditional disciplinary bounda-
ries and providing a locus for scholars who work in different but contiguous
fields to discuss and compare the results of their individual research. The fourth
meeting of the group was held at the University of Trieste on 30 September-1

October 2011 and focused on the study of archives and archival records and the
different ways they interlocked with, and were functional to, the workings of the
ancient administrative, and political, systems.
Twelve papers were delivered at the meeting and are published in this book
in a revised form. The papers are arranged in four sections dealing respectively
with the Ancient Near East, Classical Greece, the Persian Tradition and the Hel-
lenistic World, and the Roman Empire. Given that the themes touched upon by
the contributors chronologically span from the astoundingly extensive records
of the Old Assyrian traders in the early second millennium B.C. to the archives
kept by provincial governors in the late Roman Empire and range geographi-
cally from Mesopotamia to the Western Mediterranean, including Asia Minor,
Egypt and Aegean Greece, considerable effort has been made, first, to contextu-
alise the significance of each essay within the scholarly debate of each discipline
and, secondly, to bridge the gaps and highlight similarities and differences in the
8
archival practices and concepts of the societies examined. Each section is thus
enriched by introductory comments or afterthoughts on the three papers, while
the Introduction and Conclusions tie up the common threads and bring together
the general methodological and conceptual concerns emerging from the case-
studies analysed in the essays.
In order to avoid modern anachronistic projections on ancient documenta-
tion, the working definition underlying the essays has been that an archive – in
line with the Encyclopaedia Britannica – is ‘the organised body of records produced
or received by a public, or private, entity in the transaction of affairs and pre-
served by it for its specific needs and purposes’. In other words, archives, whether
public or private, are no doubt the physical spaces, the repositories where records
are kept, but they are also the organised active ‘memory’ of the society produc-
ing them, thus reflecting the practical needs and administrative practices as well
as the ideological models of that society, whose ‘world order’ they mirror and
perpetuate to a significant extent. In the essays by I. Kottsieper and L. Criscuolo
‘archives’, conceived as collections of documents deliberately made for public or
private purposes in antiquity, have been set apart from ‘dossiers’, assemblages
of texts not originally kept in the same repository but successively brought to-
gether as a result of different circumstances. Only the former, archives in the
technical sense, are hence studied in this volume.
The archives dealt with in the essays are especially conspicuous for their va-
riety, both in terms of quality and of quantity. The first element distinguishing
them is whether they were of public or private nature, although such distinction
is not always necessarily clear-cut and, as shown by K. Veenhof and A. Jacquet, it
can hardly be applied to the Old Assyrian and Old Babylonian source material.
Records were, moreover, written on a variety of materials, including clay tablets,
papyrus, wooden tablets, but also on leather as well as bronze and lead plates, so
that when they were kept on perishable materials and are now lost, as is normal-
ly the case for the Graeco-Roman world, their existence must be inferred from
literary texts and epigraphic documents, which were copies of (or extracts from)
archival records and, as shown by K. Harter-Uibopuu, sometimes established
regulations regarding their upkeep and organisation.
Other variables concern the life-time of archives and records. Documents
were generally preserved and stored not for the sake of keeping a memory of
the past but for their concrete significance for the present. At the public level, as
illustrated by Th. Kruse, written texts testifying to the privileged legal and fiscal
status of individuals in Roman Egypt could be consulted and quoted even 200
years later, while boundary disputes between Greek poleis in Hellenistic and
Roman Asia Minor and the official correspondence between Greek cities and
Hellenistic kings, once more often concerning the renewal of tax privileges, not
rarely reveal, as highlighted by L. Boffo, that the relevant documents could be
produced decades, if not centuries after the original settlement or award. Like-
wise, following E. M. Harris’ argument, written plaints in Classical Athens played
9
foreword
an important role in enforcing the principle of res iudicata, whereas the archivi-
zation of official manumission documents in Hellenistic and Roman Delphi was
meant to provide permanent evidence of free status. Other detailed documents,
as emphasized by S. Epstein in his contribution on Athenian fifth and fourth
century building accounts, were, on the other hand, discarded when they were
no longer of use and only shortened, recapitulative records were likely to have a
longer life. At a private level, K. Veenhof, A. Jacquet and I. Kottsieper make a simi-
lar distinction between documents of unlimited and those of limited validity.
Documents proving title of ownership, donations or inheritance rights were, as
a rule, preserved for a long time, for several generations, while short-term con-
tracts were generally discarded as soon as the obligation had been fulfilled. The
keeping of loan contracts in an Old Babylonian archive beyond the expiry date
can, as a consequence, be explained by assuming that the debts had not been paid
and, in actual fact, remained outstanding.
Notwithstanding such variety of individual cases, a number of common pat-
terns also emerge in respect to the organization and the physical aspect of the
storerooms where the documents were preserved, the classification of texts, the
function of record-keeping and the role of seals. One further constant pattern is
that archives, especially public ones, were rarely centralised and official informa-
tion was stored in multiple repositories kept by different magistrates interacting
with one another. This is the case, at a private level, with the archives of the Old
Assyrian traders and, at a public level, with the local archives of Classical Athens
and Hellenistic and Roman Egypt. Such a pattern furthermore entails, as shown
by L. Criscuolo, that documents often had to be available in more than one copy.
Leaving aside the complex and intractable question of whether these shared
habits were the result of independent developments or represent a common
trait to the entire Near Eastern and Mediterranean area, which far exceeds the
scope of this volume, we are entitled to speak of a recurring ‘archival behaviour’.
It appears that in the best documented areas and periods, such as Mesopotamia
in the second millennium B.C. and in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt, the produc-
tion of written records was impressively abundant and administrative and le-
gal practices had reached a remarkable degree of complexity and sophistication.
Each individual administrative act entailed the drawing of multiple documents
and thus produced a true ‘documentary chain’. On this basis, it seems reasonable
to assume that also where archival documents, with some important exceptions,
have not been preserved but where sophisticated uses of writing were developed,
as is the case of the Greek world, the functioning of the political, institutional, le-
gal and economic system was largely dependant on the plentiful production of
written documents and on extensive record-keeping.
This book would not have seen the light without the help and support of
many. I would like to acknowledge my sincere gratitude to Professor Roger S.
Bagnall and to the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University
for their generous financial contribution towards the organization of the meet-
10
ing in Trieste. Warmest thanks are also due to the Dipartimento di Storia e Cul-
ture dall’Antichità al Mondo Contemporaneo (now renamed as Dipartimento di
Studi Umanistici) of the University of Trieste and to its Head Professor Claudio
Zaccaria for providing further substantial funding. I am grateful for her help and
collaboration before and after the meeting to my colleague Professor Laura Boffo
with whom I share a long-term project on ‘Public archives in the Greek cities
from the archaic to the early Roman age’. This volume was funded by the Ital-
ian Ministry of Education and Scientific Research (MIUR) as a part of that pro-
ject (PRIN 2008 – La burocrazia greca: definizione e funzionamento dei procedimenti
amministrativi nel mondo antico; Coordinatore nazionale: Prof. Lucia Criscuolo).
I would also like to thank the participants for the stimulating discussion at the
meeting and for the speedy revision of the texts for publication. The members of
the steering committee of the group Legal Documents in Ancient Societies, Sophie
Démare-Lafont, Mark Depauw, Éva Jakab, Dennis P. Kehoe, Uri Yiftach-Firanko,
provided vital assistance with scientific and practical advice and with their ‘re-
sponses’ to the papers at the end of each session. Special thanks are moreover
due to Dr. Mauro Rossi and Mrs. Gabriella Clabot at EUT for their competent and
efficient handling of the production of the book. I would like to finally thank my
dear wife Joanna and my family for their moral and emotional support over the
years.
This book is dedicated to my mother, Lisetta Brunner, without whom I would
have never been what I am.
Michele Faraguna
Trieste, February 2013
11
archives and archival documents …
The importance of archives, whether they consist of documents written on in-
scriptions, papyri, or cuneiform tablets, can hardly be overstated for the study
of many questions in ancient history, including, among other things, law, espe-
cially as it affected family relationships, the ancient economy, and the adminis-
tration of empires. The study of archives has long been a basic feature of ancient
history, but in recent years, scholars have approached archives employing new
methodologies adapted from other fields, particularly in the social sciences. This
is certainly so in papyrology, the field represented in this volume with which I
am most familiar, but it is also the case with epigraphy and cuneiform studies.
This increasingly sophisticated use of archival material helps us to ask new ques-
tions in many fields in ancient history, and the sharing of methodologies across
disciplines makes it possible for scholars in diverse fields to learn from one an-
other, even though they often have little regular contact because of the special-
ized nature of their work. This was certainly the case at the Legal Documents in
Ancient Societies meeting in which I participated, the conference in Washing-
ton in 2009 on transaction costs in ancient economies, which brought together
Egyptologists, legal scholars, and ancient historians. The papers at the conference
in Trieste now collected in this volume remind all of us how much scholars can
learn from colleagues working in very different disciplines. In what follows, I
would like to sketch out what I understand to be some important developments
Archives and Archival
Documents in Ancient
Societies: Introduction
dennis kehoe
12
in the use of archival material, and then, on that basis, to try to place the papers
collected in the present volume in a broader perspective.
To begin with papyrology, collections of documents, perhaps, on occasion, in-
accurately termed archives, have provided a basis for investigating many issues,
from administrative and economic history in Ptolemaic, Roman, and Byzantine
Egypt, to private family law and legal history. In the field of economic history, the
Zenon papyri, the Heroninos archive, and the Apion papyri represent the most
important sources of evidence for analyzing the development of estates and the
political economy of Egypt in the Ptolemaic, Roman, and Byzantine periods.
However, our understanding of the rural economy has been enhanced by other
less heralded archives. Two important examples are the Soterichos archive (OMAR
1979), which documents the affairs of a small-scale tenant farmer in the Fayum
in the late first century CE, and the archive of Aurelius Isidorus (BOAK & YOUTIE
1960), which allows us to trace the challenges affecting landowners and liturgists
in Karanis in the Fayum at the turn of the fourth century CE.
The chief advantage of private papyrological archives like these for studying
the rural economy of Greco-Roman Egypt is that they allow us to trace in detail
the individual situations of farmers, both tenants and landowners, particularly
in terms of their relationships with landlords, laborers, and other landowners, as
well as the state. Since archival material by its very nature concerns the affairs of
discrete individuals, we cannot automatically generalize from patterns revealed
in them. However, what we can do is trace basic economic relationships, which
can add depth to or alter more overarching models of the ancient economy. The
study of archives is especially valuable when their evidence can be placed in a
broader historical context, one that is properly based on models developed from
other ancient evidence and from comparative material from better documented
pre-industrial economies. At the very least, comparative evidence allows us to
appreciate what kind of economic relationships were likely to have occurred in
antiquity, what levels of production might be feasible in an ancient economy,
and how later societies confronted similar legal issues resulting from economic
activity and familial relationships.
We can see how our understanding of economic relationships can be changed
by archival material by considering the Heroninos archive, a collection of some
450 letters, orders, and accounts that document in great detail the management
of a large estate in third-century CE Roman Egypt. Dominic Rathbone, in his
ground-breaking 1991 book, undertakes a detailed investigation of this material.
Rathbone’s study traces to the degree possible the development of large estates
belonging to Aurelius Appianus, an equestrian and councilor at Alexandria, thus
a member of Egypt’s provincial elite, and other persons of his circle. But more im-
portant, the Heroninos archive allows us to trace the management of an estate to
a degree of detail unparalleled elsewhere in the Roman Empire. Rathbone’s study
shows that at least some landowners employed wage labor on a scale not hereto-
fore recognized, and it also provides evidence for how such workers were deployed
13
archives and archival documents …
and paid. In addition, the detailed accounts that Heroninos and other administra-
tors submitted to the estate’s central administration suggest that the owners of
this and comparable estates could calculate the profitability of the various crops
they cultivated. However, when interpreted against a broader model of an agrar-
ian economy with little annual growth and limited opportunities for investing
large amounts of wealth, the evidence from the Heroninos archive provides ev-
idence for how a landowner sought to profit under such constraints by, among
other things, developing a rigorous management system to control the costs of
producing basic staples such as wine and wheat, and thereby gaining economies
of scale that gave them competitive advantages over smaller-scale farmers.
Since Rathbone’s work on the Heroninos archive, a number of scholars
have engaged in the intensive study of a comparable body of material from late
antiquity, the documentary papyri concerned with the organization and manage-
ment of the estates of the Flavii Apions in sixth-century Oxyrhynchus. Although
the material connected with the Apions does not constitute a coherent archive
in the way that many contributors to the present volume would define one, the
fifth-century and sixth-century papyri do provide a coherent body of material
that allows us to study in some detail the organization of a large estate belonging
to a member of the Byzantine imperial aristocracy. We can also trace both how
this estate grew over time and how its growth affected the agrarian economy in
the surrounding Oxyrhynchite villages. Among the scholars who have studied
this material in recent years are Jairus Banaji (2001), who has traced how aris-
tocratic landowners took advantage of their role in tax collection to accumulate
wealth, Roberta Mazza (2001), Peter Sarris (2006), and Todd Hickey (2012).
The numerous papyri associated with the estate of the Apions make it pos-
sible to study not only the organization and management of the estate, but also
the estate’s relationship with the surrounding agricultural communities, the vil-
lages in the Oxyrhynchite nome in which the Apions owned property. This is
a subject that Giovanni Ruffini (2008) has taken up in his recent book, a work
that suggests the possibilities of examining now familiar documentary material
from a new theoretical perspective. In his study, Ruffini seeks to come to a bet-
ter understanding of the economic and social role that the Apion estate played
in the Oxyrhynchite nome, and on that basis to draw broader conclusions about
the role of large estates in the Byzantine Empire. He does this by drawing on an
emerging field in the social sciences, social network theory, to map the connec-
tions and relationships among individual persons associated with the Apion es-
tate. This material allows Ruffini to test the hypothesis that the estate stood at
the top of a centralized hierarchy in Oxyrhynchus, which would mean that the
estate occupied a dominating position in the region. In an alternative model, as-
sociated with the Egyptian village of Aphrodito, contemporary with sixth-centu-
ry Oxyrhynchus, which Ruffini also examines, small farmers and tenants seem
to have established relationships directly among themselves, without having a
large estate or an economically dominant house serve as the point of contact.
14
Ruffini is one of several young scholars to use network theory to make sense
of a vast array of data in order to ask new questions about an ancient society.
Another scholar using this methodology is Caroline Waerzeggers (Leiden), who
has applied social network analysis to neo-Babylonian cuneiform archives so as
to map the relationships among elite in Babylon (Waerzeggers, forthcoming).
In a very different field, my own colleague at Tulane University Margaret Butler
is applying social network theory to an archaeological data base of burials from
Macedon and other locations in ancient Greece. Butler uses changes in burial
customs as proxy evidence for changing social institutions in fourth-century
Macedon, and network theory allows her to determine how certain artifacts
found in graves might cluster.
1
Testing the strength of links between various bur-
ial practices enables Butler to trace changing burial customs in a rigorous rather
than largely impressionistic fashion. It is interesting to see that a similar meth-
odology can be applied both to interpreting material culture and to documentary
evidence. To return to Caroline Waerzeggers, she presented a paper on network
theory at a conference in 2008 organized by Michael Jursa of Vienna as part of his
project on the “Economic History of Babylonia in the First Millennium BC.”
2
For
this conference Jursa sought out scholars working on various periods in Babylo-
nian history as well as ones working in the Hellenistic and Roman economies.
The Babylonian scholars, in my understanding, are confronted with masses of
documents in numerous cuneiform archives, and so Jursa sought to establish a
scholarly dialogue with Greek and Roman historians to offer both sides a broader
perspective as they pursue their individual topics. The scholars presenting pa-
pers on the Babylonian world at the Vienna conference demonstrated a great deal
of ingenuity in applying new methodologies to their evidence and in drawing
compelling conclusions about the nature of ancient Near Eastern economies.
The papers in this volume approach archives from a somewhat different per-
spective, with a focus on understanding them as coherent bodies of evidence and
on that basis drawing historical conclusions, for example, about the governmen-
tal policies in ancient city states or empires, about economic relationships in the
ancient Near East, or about the role of law in the administration of justice.
Several of the papers are concerned directly with establishing criteria for de-
fining an archive and on this basis interpreting one. Thus Klaas Veenhof, “The
Archives of Old Assyrian Traders: their Nature, Functions and Use,” examines a
collection of some 23,000 clay tablets kept by Old Assyrian traders in the city of
Kanesh in southern Anatolia from about 1900 BCE until the city was destroyed
in 1835 BCE. Many of the traders kept archives of documents in their houses in
Kanesh, and they apparently had advance warning about the impending doom

1 In a book project titled The King’s Canvas: The Transformation of Ancient Macedon.
2 The conference Too much data? Generalizations and model-building in ancient economic history
on the basis of large corpora of documentary evidence was held July 16-17, 2008 at the University of
Vienna.
15
archives and archival documents …
of their city, since they were able to take some documents, presumably ones
concerning still outstanding obligations, with them when they abandoned their
houses. The surviving archives are thus far from complete, but they do offer a
great deal of information about the economic activities of merchants engaging
in commerce far from the capital of the empire, in one of as many as forty trading
stations in Anatolia. These archives seem to offer a great deal of evidence for how
such merchants were able to enforce obligations and resolve disputes, which
would have been absolutely vital to their being able to conduct business. Of par-
ticular interest is the governing body that loomed over the traders, the karum,
a hierarchical organization that served to regulate relationships among traders.
Did it also play a role in enforcing contracts into which the Assyrian traders en-
tered with local people from whom they acquired gold and silver? The paper of
Antoine Jacquet, “Family Archives in Mesopotamia during the Old Babylonian
Period,” is part of a broad project to consider archives from the first dynasty of
Bablyon, in the 20
th
to the 17
th
centuries BCE, in their context as they are discov-
ered archaeologically, to learn what one can from the ensemble of documents
rather than from documents considered individually. Jacquet’s paper describes
the variety of people who kept archives, including many women. One of his im-
portant points is that one should distinguish between documents kept for the
long term, often concerned with real estate sales, juridical decisions, marriage,
inheritance, adoptions, and manumissions, and documents recording short-
term obligations, such as debt contracts, which would be destroyed when the
obligation was completed or at least be eventually purged. Short-term arrange-
ments, which might offer an insight into the scale of commerce in which traders
would be involved, are likely to be under-represented in the archives. Moreover,
both Veenhof and Jacquet raise the troubling point that it is difficult to see how
ancient people navigated among their archives to retrieve important informa-
tion in a timely fashion.
To turn to papyri and Ptolemaic Egypt, Lucia Criscuolo, “Copie, malacopie,
copie d’ufficio e il problema della titolarità di un archivio nell’Egitto tolemaico,”
distinguishes between archives proper, that is, collections of documents delib-
erately collected and maintained and kept by an individual for a specific pur-
pose, and other dossiers of documents, sometimes assembled in antiquity, but
without the direct purpose of an archive. In her paper, Criscuolo emphasizes the
importance of understanding the conditions under which documents were pro-
duced, especially copies of official documents, which may not display a profes-
sional appearance. Clearly the phenomenon of copying documents produced for
official purposes was widespread, since it could be important for an individual to
be able to have available the information from official enactments. From another
perspective, in his paper on Aramaic archives from the Persian period in Egypt,
Ingo Kottsieper explores the reasons why individuals maintained archives. In
the case of Nakhtḥor, an official of the Persian satrap Arsames, the preserved pa-
pers concern Nakhtḥor’s duties and those of his predecessor, and their collection
16
of documents served to establish Nakhtḥor’s political authority. Other archives
that Kottsieper examines might serve to establish people’s personal legal status
or rights, as is the case with the archives of Jedaniah and Anani.
To return to the ancient Near East, Susanne Paulus, “The Limits of Middle
Babylonian Archives,” examines archival material concerning the Kassite dy-
nasty to reconstruct landownership patterns, important both for the economic
history of the period and for understanding the power of the king, which to a
large extent derived from his capacity to bestow land on loyal or favored subjects.
The archival material, however, does not permit drawing a complete picture of
changes in landownership, and many documents remain unpublished. Howev-
er, Paulus finds a promising way forward by examining stone inscriptions, or ku-
durrus. These stones, which invoked divine protection against anyone who might
disturb the rights of the temple or individual who erected them, included texts
recording land donations. So they help to fill in gaps in the incomplete archival
material. For example, the king, as the highest judge, would adjudicate property
disputes, but there is no royal archive documenting such decisions, since it fell
to the individuals involved in the dispute to preserve their documents. The ku-
durrus provide an important source of information to reconstruct the economic
history of this period.
Preserving documents in public archives was a common activity for Greek
city states, and Christophe Pébarthe, “Les archives de la cité de raison: démocratie
athénienne et pratiques documentaires à l’époque classique,” examines the role
of local and centrally maintained written records and the relationship between
them to address the broader issues about the nature of Athenian democracy. One
issue concerns the degree to which ‘rationality’ rather than traditional social ties
characterized the organization of Greek city states. In addition, Pébarthe’s study
raises questions concerning the degree to which writing (as opposed to orality)
was central to classical Greek democracy. If, as Pébarthe argues, the use of writ-
ing was an integral part of a broadly rational organization of the city state, it is
still not always clear precisely what purpose the publication of a document on
stone served, or the relationship between an inscription that could be publicly
viewed and the original documents maintained by the city. Shimon Epstein ad-
dresses this issue in his paper, “Attic Building Accounts from Euthynae to Stelae,”
concerned with the inscriptions recording the public building accounts from the
Periclean building program in fifth-century BCE Athens, the later construction
of the Erechtheion, and fourth-century building accounts from Eleusis. By ana-
lyzing the information that was in all likelihood presented when the officials in
charge of these building programs underwent their auditing process, but did not
appear on the inscriptions, Epstein makes a convincing argument about the po-
litical purposes of the inscriptions. For Greek cities in the Hellenistic and Roman
periods, Laura Boffo, “La ‘presenza’ dei re negli archivi delle poleis ellenistiche,”
and Kaja Harter-Uibopuu, “Epigraphische Quellen zum Archivwesen in den
griechischen Poleis des ausgehenden Hellenismus und der Kaiserzeit,” investi-
17
archives and archival documents …
gate the preservation of documents concerned with both the administration of
the cities and with private legal arrangements. Boffo examines the epigraphic
archives kept by cities as a way of understanding the evolving relationship be-
tween city and king in the Hellenistic world. Her thesis is that the preservation
of archives involving royal enactments was a sign of the king’s power. The kings
exercised their power not only through imposing taxes on the cities and reward-
ing favored individuals with honors, but also through acts of generosity toward a
city, such as funding cults or even the education of children.
Harter-Uibopuu considers the well-known manumission documents from
Delphi as well as grave regulations from Roman Asia Minor to address how cit-
ies changed their practices in preserving documents from Hellenistic times. This
paper raises important questions for how people in Roman provinces sought to
enforce private legal arrangements. Arranging the manumission of a slave as a
sale to the god at Delphi carried with it a kind of protection that the owners of the
slaves involved apparently did not expect to gain from the more conventional le-
gal institutions of their cities. The publication on the temple wall, in abbreviated
form, of the manumission document preserved in the archive was surely meant
to emphasize both the validity of the manumissions and the authority of the god
in enforcing them. In Asia Minor, by contrast, the grave regulations show that
private individuals were confident of being able to call upon public authorities
to enforce their wishes about the ways in which their tombs would be used over
generations long after they were deceased. The prescription that a violator of the
tomb would be compelled to pay a public fine is paralleled in Greek wills from
Roman Egypt, in which the testators also include public fines for people who vio-
late the terms of the will.
Archives could play a much more basic role in resolving legal disputes, as em-
phasized by Edward Harris’ paper on the “The Plaint in Athenian Law and Legal
Procedure.” Harris challenges the widely held belief that decisions in Athenian
courts were reached more by rhetoric or social considerations than by following
the strict requirements of the law. Roman civil procedure tried to limit the scope
for going outside of the strict requirements of the law through the formulary sys-
tem. Athenian law did this by requiring public and private actions to be drawn
up specifically in accordance with existing statutes (Roman law did not require
this, but instead required a remedy to exist), and the plaint carefully outlined the
statute violated, the precise nature of the violations of the laws, and the amount
of damages caused and sought. Harris’ focus on the plaint as a feature of Athenian
law that brought order and predictability to the adjudication of disputes raises
some broader questions. One is whether other Greek city states applied a simi-
lar requirement to court cases, or whether the Athenian court system applied a
unique reform that made legal business qualitatively different from other Greek
cities. A more fundamental issue concerns the difference between ways in which
Greek law developed in the classical period, closely tied as it was with the legisla-
tion and thus the political processes of Greek democracy. In contemporary Rome,
18
by contrast, as Aldo Schiavone (2012) emphasizes, the development and interpre-
tation of Roman law remained largely in the hands of aristocratic legal experts,
who struggled to remain independent from immediate political pressures. To re-
turn to Athenian law, a further incentive for trials to be conducted in accordance
with the law consisted in the penalties that might be imposed on magistrates
who allowed cases in violation of these prescriptions. That the administration of
Athenian law, then, might be more predictable than other scholars, most nota-
bly Adriann Lanni (2006), would suggest, has important implications for under-
standing the Athenian economy in the fourth century, a period for which we also
have substantial evidence for the development of commercial banking.
Publicly maintained archives could play a crucial role in deciding legal issues
that had wider implications for the administration of cities, as Thomas Kruse
emphasizes in his paper “Bevölkerungskontrolle, Statuszugang und Archiv-
praxis im römischen Ägypten.” If Roman rule in Egypt to a large extent involved
defining the population in terms of various legal statuses with corresponding
privileges, it could be crucial both for the state and private individuals to have
access to records that could prove status. In many areas of classical Roman law,
it was not necessary to have written documentation to prove a case or enforce a
contract, although written evidence would obviously be helpful. In the case of
marriage, for example, the absence of documentation was not a hindrance to as-
serting that a marriage was legitimate, as the emperor Probus, in a constitution
preserved in the Code of Justinian, responded in a third-century rescript, as long
as there were witness who could verify that a marriage existed (C. 5.4.9). In the
later empire, a series of constitutions by the emperor Justinian makes clear a
growing preference for written documentation. In Roman Egypt, proof of status
was greatly facilitated by the ability of cities to maintain public archives with
epikrisis documents and other indications of status, such as the house-by-house
census declarations. Rudolf Haensch offers a very different perspective in his
paper on the types of archives kept by provincial governors in the later Roman
Empire, “Die Statthalterarchive der Spätantike.” Haensch takes the view that, in
the earlier empire, when it is generally assumed that provincial governors main-
tained extensive archives, the types of documentation to which governors could
have recourse were limited. But the situation changed in late antiquity, as gover-
nors maintained for decades court protocols and other important records. These
might be available in the provincial capital, as well as in a central store of archives
in Constantinople. The best evidence for the long duration of extensive archives
is the ability of Augustine to quote decisions made in the early fourth century
when he discusses the relations between Catholics and Donatists. Haensch’s in-
vestigation has important implications for the administration of justice both un-
der the principate and in late antiquity; an important question concerns whether
the administration of justice in the Roman Empire was enhanced by the access
on the part of provincial governors and other judges to relevant legal decisions,
19
archives and archival documents …
or whether it was largely incumbent upon the litigants to produce the relevant
documentation to support their cases.
To conclude, the papers in this volume use comparable methodologies to ad-
dress common questions in the field of ancient history writ large. The focus on
the exact nature of archival material and the uses to which it might be put pro-
vide new perspectives to make more precise the types of conclusions that can be
drawn in future work on this type of evidence. The papers in this volume point
the way to new ways in which archives from the ancient world can be studied,
as well as to the benefits of bringing together scholars working in diverse fields
with common interests and methodologies.
20
Bibliography Banaji 2001
J. Banaji, Agrarian Change in
Late Antiquity: Gold, Labour and
Aristocratic Dominance, Oxford.
Boak & Youtie 1960
A. E. R. Boak & H. C. Youtie, The
Archive of Aurelius Isidorus in the
Egyptian Museum, Cairo, and the
University of Michigan (P. Cair.
Isidor.), Ann Arbor.
Hickey 2012
T. M. Hickey, Wine, Wealth, and
the State in Late Antique Egypt,
Ann Arbor.
Lanni 2006
A. Lanni, Law and Justice in
the Courts of Classical Athens,
Cambridge.
Mazza 2001
R. Mazza, L’Archivio degli Apioni.
Terra, lavoro e proprietà senatoria
nell’Egitto tardoantico. Bari.
Omar 1979
S. Omar, Das Archiv des Soterichos,
Pap.Colon. VIII, Opladen.
Rathbone 1991
D. Rathbone, Economic
Rationalism and Rural Society
in Third-Century A.D. Egypt:
the Heroninos Archive and the
Appianus Estate, Cambridge.
Ruffini 2008
G. Ruffini, Social Networks in
Byzantine Egypt, Cambridge.
Sarris 2006
P. Sarris, Economy and Society in
the Age of Justinian, Cambridge.
Schiavone 2012
A. Schiavone, The Invention of
Law in the West, trans. Jeremy
Carden and Antony Shugaar,
Cambridge (Mass.) and London.
Waerzeggers, forthcoming
C. Waerzeggers, Marduk-
rēmanni. Local Networks and
Imperial Politics in Achaemenid
Babylonia, Orientalia
Lovaniensia Analecta, Leuven.
Ancient Near East
23
archives in the ancient near east: response
«Glory (or shame) to the brick !» wrote Prof. G. Cardascia in an article introduc-
ing legal assyriology to beginners
1
. Indeed, Assyriologists are better off with the
numerous tablets found in the deserts of the Near East, but this documentary
wealth is not fully available nor completely usable, for many reasons.
One of them is the dispersion of the archives
2
.
By itself, a tablet gives a great amount of information, deriving from its con-
tent but also from its external aspect, the shape of its writing and the mention or
the printing of seal(s). But a complete interpretation also requires knowledge of
the archaeological context of its origin, and its possible connection to an archive.
Whether this tablet was kept with others or not, how it was stored, in which
room or part of a building, all this enhances and enlightens the historical
comment. What to do for instance with a list of people receiving various amounts
of grain or silver? A. Jacquet shows here how the archivistic point of view helps
to rule out some hypotheses and suggest others. Such an approach implies


1 Cardascia 1954 = 1995, 15: «Gloire (ou opprobre) à la brique !».
2 On the notion of archive in Mesopotamia, and the scientific and methodological questions
it raises, see Veenhof 1986, and especially his brillant introduction to the volume (1-36).
Zero and Infinity:
the Archives in Mesopotamia
sophie démare-lafont
24
awareness of the Mesopotamian practices of conservation and utilization of the
archives.
The administrative services of palaces or temples on the one hand and those
of the large households owning huge estates on the other hand worked in the
same manner, though on a different scale: incomes and expenses were registered
on notes, which were regularly copied on monthly or annual tablets; distribu-
tions of rations to employees and members of the family were carefully listed;
some legal documents were kept, as well as letters dealing with political or ad-
ministrative matters, or with current litigations in court.
Taken on their own, these texts may look very disparate and the link between
them does not appear at first sight. For instance, we know that royal or religious
officers in Babylonia
3
or in Syria
4
used to put together at home documents con-
cerning their official functions along with their own family archives or those
belonging to other citizens. Had we ignored their common provenience, the idea
of bringing these texts together would have not occurred to us. Taking into con-
sideration their material unity changes the way we look at the criteria of classifi-
cation and internal organization of an archive, and leads us also to reconsider the
relevance or the distinction between official and private sectors.
These pieces of information, which we consider crucial nowadays, were ig-
nored or neglected for a long time. In the middle of the 19
th
century, during the
relentless competition between European cultural diplomacies in the Near East,
the excavators – usually diplomats themselves – were basically concerned with
the quantity of findings: they wanted to send to their museums as many artifacts
and texts as possible, even if this meant damaging the sites, scattering the ar-
chives and destroying small pieces considered ordinary or uninteresting. Many
precious indications have been lost during the harsh diggings of the archaeologi-
cal pioneers. For instance, no one would pay attention to the sherds sometimes
found along with the tablets because they were seen as common fragments of
pottery; but they could have been the remains of storage jars, and could have
given information about the archival methods of the Mesopotamians
5
. In the
same vein, the precise locus where the texts were found and their disposition on
the ground were sometimes omitted, when in fact these data inform us about
the classification practices and the activities of a building. Finally, the political
circumstances, the increasing number of illicit diggings and the setting up of
the museum collections have often led to the dispersion of archives which origi-
nally formed a coherent set. The case of the family of Ea-ilūta-bāni, in the 7
th
-6
th


3 See for instance the texts from Dūr-Abiešuh, published by Van Lerberghe & Voet 2009,
and the comments of D. Charpin, «Annuaire de l’Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes» 142, 2011,
17-21, esp. 21.
4 See the archives of the diviner Zū-Bala and his family at Emar (Démare-Lafont 2008, 213-14)
and the archives from the house of Urtenu at Ugarit (Bordreuil & Malbran-Labat 1995).
5 Veenhof 1986, 13.
25
archives in the ancient near east: response
centuries B.C., is a good example thereof: their activities are reported during six
generations in tablets kept in Jena, Istanbul, Oxford, Paris and at Yale University.
A patient work aiming at regrouping the whole file was necessary in order to al-
low a global study of the matrimonial and economic strategies of this powerful
family from Borsippa (modern Birs Nimrud, close to Babylon)
6
.
Mesopotamian families themselves sometimes had to face the scattering of
their own archives, because of marriages, commercial activities or uprootings
after wars or economic crises. The Assyrian merchants, for instance, often had
two homes and carried their archives from one house to the other, as K. Veenhof
explains here. In Old-Babylonian times, exiled people from Uruk, in Southern
Mesopotamia, moved to the North and settled in Kish, bringing with them their
documents
7
.
Finally, it sometimes happened that the tablets were destroyed, when they
preluded to the drafting of official and monumental documents. Such is the case
of the Medio-Babylonian kudurrus studied by S. Paulus in this volume: paradoxi-
cally, they testify to the existence of these “invisible” documents and raise the
question of the purpose of such inscriptions engraved in the stone.
Be they available or virtual, archives are the frame within which most of the
Mesopotamian sources have to be interpreted and, in this respect, the three fol-
lowing contributions illustrate several aspects among the numerous avenues to
be further explored.

6 Joannès 1989.
7 Charpin 1986, 402-18.
26
Bibliography Bordreuil & Malbran-Labat
1995
P. Bordreuil & Fl. Malbran-
Labat, Les archives de la maison
d’Ourtenou, «CRAI» 139/2,
443-51.
Cardascia 1954
G. Cardascia, Splendeur et
misère de l’assyriologie juridique,
«Annales Universitatis
Saraviensis» 3, 156-62
(reprinted in Hommage
à Guillaume Cardascia,
Méditerranées 3, 1995, 15-23).
Charpin 1986
D. Charpin, Le clergé d’Ur au
siècle d’Hammurabi (XIX
e
-XVIII
e

siècles av. J.-C.), Hautes Etudes
Orientales 22, Paris.
Démare-Lafont 2008
S. Démare-Lafont, The King
and the Diviner at Emar, in L.
d’Alfonso, Y. Cohen & D.
Sürenhagen (eds.), The City
of Emar among the Late Bronze
Age Empires – History, Landscape
and Society, Proceedings of the
Konstanz Emar Conference
25-26.04. 2006, AOAT 349,
Münster, 207-17.
Joannès 1989
F. Joannès, Archives de Borsippa:
la famille Ea-ilûta-bâni. Etude
d’un lot d’archives familiales en
Babylonie du VIII
e
au V
e
siècle av.
J.-C., Hautes Etudes Orientales
25, Paris-Genève.
Van Lerberghe & Voet 2009
K. Van Lerberghe & G. Voet, A
Late Old Baylonian Temple Archive
from Dūr-Abiešuḫ, CUSAS 8,
Bethesda.
Veenhof 1986
K. R. Veenhof (ed.), Cuneiform
Archives and Libraries. Papers
read at the XXX
e
Rencontre
Assyriologique Internationale,
Leiden 1983, PIHANS 57, Leyde.
27
the archives of old assyrian traders
klaas r. veenhof
The Archives of Old
Assyrian Traders:
their Nature, Functions
and Use
1

The Old Assyrian archives are private archives. They were found in the houses of
traders who in the early centuries of the second millennium BC lived in Kanesh,
an ancient city in Central Anatolia, not far from modern Kayseri. The houses are
situated in the commercial district of the lower town, called kārum Kanesh, which
flourished for more than a century during the period of level II, which came to
an end by destruction around 1835 BC (middle chronology). The Assyrian settle-
ment in Kanesh is not only nearly the only source of our documentation, thanks
to more than fifty years of excavations, it was also the administrative capital of
an Assyrian colonial network that comprised ca. 30 commercial settlements and
small trading stations, spread over the whole of Central Anatolia. The archives
were kept in what they called the “sealed room” (maknukum) or “guarded room”
(maṣṣartum), where also valuables were stored. They vary considerably in size and
range from few hundred to a few times ca. 2000 cuneiform documents, varia-
tions that must reflect the importance and status of a trader, the history of the

1 See for general information on the excavation at Kanesh and on the Old Assyrian trade
Larsen 1976; Özgüç 2003, and Veenhof 2008a, mentioned below in the bibliography, and see
also C. Michel, Old Assyrian Bibliography (OAAS 1), Leiden 2003. In the following text I have
simplified the rendering of the Assyrian names, not indicating long vowels and typical Semitic
consonants, writing Ishtar instead of Ištar, Assur, etc.
28
house and presumably also the administrative habits of the owner. The archives
consist of the written documents accumulated – drawn up, received, acquired,
accepted for safe-keeping, or deposited there for other reasons – during the pe-
riod of activity of a trader, which usually covered many, occasionally up to thirty
years. In several cases the house had been taken over or inherited by his son, who
added his own records to those left behind by his father and there are also a few
examples of archives with records of three generations of traders. The archives
brought to light by the excavations, first by the villagers and after 1948 by Turk-
ish archeologists, reflect what they contained when the houses were destroyed.
1. Traders, archives and records
Some general information on the traders, their archives and the types of records
they contain is necessary before I can focus on the subject of this paper. This is
not easy, because the archives of Kanesh have yielded more than 23.000 cunei-
form documents (half of which are more or less known or accessible) of an at
times bewildering variety, which reflect an extensive and very sophisticated
overland trade, carried out by perhaps ca. 60 trading families. Moreover, most
of the texts available were unearthed and sold by the local villagers, so that their
archival background and coherence is unclear. Only the publication of officially
excavated archives, in TPAK 1 and the volumes of the series AKT, offers better in-
sights, but much work still remains to be done.
Status, wealth and family situation of the traders vary considerably and their
archives, all of which contain the usual variety of business documents, reflect
these differences in the nature and numbers of commercial records and corre-
spondence and to some extent also in the presence of certain types of legal docu-
ments. And most traders also had a family house in Assur, with an archive, but we
know little from Assur, because the layers of this period in the lower town were
not reached by the German excavators.
In general, archives of traders whose family had stayed behind in Assur con-
tain more letters of their wives and more correspondence with relatives, busi-
ness associates and representatives, who took care of their legal and economic
interests in Assur. Archives of traders living in Assur, whose grown-up sons lived
and worked in Anatolia, include letters exchanged between them, while those
of traders settled in Kanesh with their family comprise letters exchanged with
their wives when they were traveling around. Important family documents –
marriage contracts, testaments, title deeds, last wills, and joint-stock contracts
that supplied the trader with his capital – were usually kept in the archive in As-
sur, but may turn up in Kanesh when a whole family lived there. Many of the
older traders focused on the import of tin and textiles from Assur and their sale
for silver and gold in Anatolia, so that their archives contain many letters and
records relating to the caravan trade. Others were more involved in the internal
29
the archives of old assyrian traders
trade in copper and wool inside Anatolia, and we also meet traders who traveled
a lot in Anatolia and were engaged in commission sale and agency for colleagues
in Assur and Kanesh.
For a good appraisal of the archives several facts have to be taken into account.
The first is that several traders also had houses – apparently with archives – in
other trading settlements in Anatolia, where they stayed temporarily and even
could move. This can only be discovered by a comprehensive analysis of an ar-
chive and as an example I mention some features of the large archive of Shallim-
Assur and his family (more than 1100 texts), which has been analyzed in an ex-
emplary way by Larsen. In the first volume of its edition (AKT 6a) he writes: «It
seems clear that his main archive must have been stored in the city of Durhumit,
2

where he stayed during the last years of his life and where eventually he died and
was buried. (…) The texts from the Kanesh archive, relating to his work and his ac-
tions are probably to be understood as a scattered sample that happened to end up
here, presumably because he was staying in this house occasionally and received
letters and engaged in other activities that led to the writing of texts» (AKT 6a,
8-9). His house also contained many documents of his elder brother Iddin-abum,
although he must have had his own house with a separate archive. The dates and
subject matter of these documents made Larsen conclude that «when he was a
very young man he may have shared a house and archive with his brother» (from
where his texts were never removed) and that, much later, after his death, «col-
lected documents relating to his affairs were brought to the house of his brother,
who was the executioner of his estate». Shallim-Assur’s eldest son, Ennam-Assur,
probably was the main inhabitant of the house, but he was murdered only a few
years after his father’s death, in ca. 1865 BC.
3
Next we have ca. 200 texts associated
with the affairs of the latter’s younger brother, Ali-ahum, who «must have been
the last person to use this house and to deposit texts here», several of which deal
with attempts to obtain blood money for his murdered brother. But since none of
them is later than ca. three years after this murder, while he must have lived con-
siderably longer, «the later texts were not stored in this house, where he prob-
ably did not live, so that the documentation for his last years is no longer extant».
In fact no dated records from the last 25 years, before Kanesh was destroyed in ca.
1835 BC, have been found and Larsen considers it likely that the house was in fact
not lived in during this period and may have been used exclusively for storage.
Fortunately, the texts it contained were not removed (AKT 6a, 11-13).
4


2 An important city and colony, ca. 250 km north of Kanesh, the center of the Anatolian cop-
per trade.
3 The texts are dated, according to the Assyrian custom, by means of the name of an impor-
tant eponymous official in the City of Assur, head and manager of the “City Hall”, who was
elected annually. This institution was created during the first year of king Erishum I, according
to the Middle Chronology ca. 1870 BC.
4 Concerning the archive excavated in 1993 in grid LVII/127-128, with texts from three
30
A second feature is that, as mentioned in some records, groups of texts for a
variety of reasons could be taken out of an archive and brought elsewhere, fre-
quently to Assur. A trader could move to Assur in old age and take records along,
as shown by the witnessed record EL 141:1-10, “The containers with tablets of
Enlil-bani and the containers with copies we entrusted to Iddin-Kubum and he
brought them to Enlil-bani.” When a lawsuit, by appeal, was transferred from
kārum Kanesh to the court of the City of Assur, records to be used as evidence were
shipped there. EL 298:9ff. describes how in a conflict about a debt the authorities
of kārum Kanesh entrusted to an attorney of the plaintiff a sealed box with ten
sealed documents, including four formal letters (našpertum, “missive”) of kārum
Kanesh, four missives of a trader sealed by the kārum and two records dealing
with the debt in question, which (lines 35-36) “he will submit to the City and our
Lord (the ruler)”. When a trader died and his business had to be liquidated and
his inheritance divided on the basis of his last will – which was always kept in
Assur – this had to take place after heirs and relevant records had been brought
together in Assur, as a ruling of the City stated (Veenhof 1995, 1725-7). And we
have seen in the previous paragraph how a large file on the affairs of a dead trader
was brought to the house of his brother, who was the executor of his estate.
In some cases, after a trader had died, particular records in his archive could
be required to prevent unfinished transactions from being frozen and to pay or
collect debts. In such a case formal authorization could be given to open his safe
and take out assets and tablets. Two records inform us about what happened in
this way with the archive of Elamma. CCT 5, 3 reports that after his death the sons
of his partner “had opened the strong-room and taken out a sealed debt-note for
12 pounds of silver”, declaring: “We act at the order and under the responsibility
of his investors”. They were, as usual in such situations, accompanied by a com-
mittee of impartial outsiders (ahiūtum), who looked on and afterwards sealed the
door of the strong-room together with those who had entered. And in Kt m/k 145
people declare: “On the basis of a verdict of the plenary kārum the scribe seized us
and we entered Elamma’s house and broke the seals of the strong-room, which
we left there. Agua took two coffers with tablets.” In the deposition (BIN 6, 220+)
that is part of a large file, studied by MatouŠ 1969, about what happened when
the trader Puzur-Assur died, his sons state: “When our father Puzur-Assur had
died the investors and creditors of our father, having entered his sealed strong-
room, took 12 boxes with tablets and entrusted these to you”.
The destruction of the houses in kārum Kanesh in ca. 1835 BC did not come as a
complete surprise, no unburied skeletons were found, nor valuables (silver, gold,
items of bronze) in the strong-rooms. This suggests that the inhabitants man-
aged to flee in time and it is reasonable to assume that they took along a num-

generations of traders, Michel 2008b, 58 observes that the number of texts of the second own-
er, Ali-ahum, son of Iddin-Suen, is not substantial (ca. 50 letters, 11 loan contracts), presumably
because he also had a house in Burushhattum, and one in Assur.
31
the archives of old assyrian traders
ber of records, in particular those recording valid debt-claims and investment
contracts, perhaps also title deeds. This situation helps to explain why in general
records of the last twenty years of kārum Kanesh level II are fairly rare. But there
must have been other reasons too, perhaps the move of traders from Kanesh, the
administrative centre of the trade, to cities and colonies in the north and west,
which were the centers of economic activity. Larsen, in the introduction to AKT
6b points to «the apparent collapse in the commercial activities of the Assyrian
businessmen [that] probably had its roots in legal and economic problems asso-
ciated with the death of a whole generation of important merchants».
5
Whatever
was the case, there is no evidence that, when a number of years after 1835 BC the
rebuilding of what became kārum Kanesh level Ib started, Assyrians tried to re-
trieve records from the earlier ruins.
Finally, we have to assume that the enormous number of written records ac-
cumulating in the archives made traders from time to time decide to remove
texts that were no longer valid or necessary. Most commercial transactions were
finished in a few years
6
and their records did not have to be preserved, as hap-
pened with title deeds or marriage contracts. Only in particular cases, such as
with a joint-stock company that would run for ten years, did records have to be
preserved for longer periods. This explains why records from the oldest period,
when the scope of the trade was also more limited, are relatively rare,
7
but we
know almost nothing about the removal of records, apart from returning debt-
notes when they were paid. We occasionally meet references to records we
would expect to find, but which are missing, but we do not know why. The ar-
chive of Kuliya (AKT 5) contained eight, in part overlapping lists (texts nos. 62-
69) that enumerated in all 50 tablets of various kinds, apparently present there;
the biggest one lists “27 tablets placed in a big box”. Since none of these tablets
was found in the archive, the list may have been drawn up to select and identify
documents that were removed, but we do not know why and where. In general
one gets the impression that outdated records were not systematically discarded
and that much depended on the habits and zeal of the archive owner, who usu-
ally had room enough to store them, while reading and selecting them may have
been a cumbersome task. Some old documents, such as large memoranda enu-
merating all outstanding claims, may have been preserved for their informative
value, letters from relatives and wives for emotional reasons. The archaeological
record unfortunately is not clear enough to show whether old, outdated records

5 The issue is studied in the framework of a monograph by Barjamovic-Hertel-Larsen 2012.
6 The terms of commercial loans, actually the consignment of merchandise given on credit to
traveling agents, usually did not exceed one year. Also the notes and accounts of expenses paid
en route by the leader of a caravan lost the value after the accounts had been settled.
7 The absence of early dated records (the oldest one preserved is from eponymy year 47) is
not surprising, since nearly all are debt-notes and they were returned or destroyed when the
debt was paid (see also below note 34).
32
may not have been stored in separate containers or even rooms. No hoards of
discarded tablets were found outside the archival rooms and houses, used as fill
or for paving a floor, as happened in Babylonia.
Every archive also contains groups of records that cannot be linked with its
owner or related to his business, which I have called elsewhere (Veenhof 2003,
115, § 5. 2) “strange records”. Various explanations for their presence are possible.
There were people without a house in the kārum, e.g. caravan personnel, trave-
ling agents and relatives who stayed in Kanesh for some time. They may have
deposited their records in the archive of their boss, as is clear for an employee of
the trader Imdilum. Traders traveled a lot and might temporarily move to other
places and in such cases they might give valuable records in safe-deposit (ana
nabšêm ezābum) to a friend or colleague. The most impressive piece of evidence is
a large tablet in New York (CTMMA I, 84), where a trader, whose strong-room had
been emptied out by a partner, enumerates and describes 25 records of all kinds,
including “tablets of others, which they had left in deposit with me” (l. 40),... “all
contained in two sealed containers” (lines 60f.).
8
In several cases such deposited
records were apparently never retrieved by their owners, who may have died or
disappeared. As already mentioned above in connection with the archive of Shal-
lim-Assur, traders did move and could live only temporarily in a house, judging
from the presence of groups of records belonging to them alongside the more
substantial archive of the owner or main inhabitant of the house. Cécile Michel
observed that the archive edited in TPAK 1, basically that of Shumi-abiya, also con-
tained 25 letters of a certain Assur-mutappil, some still in unopened envelopes,
but not a single debt-note of his. She assumes that he deposited his letters with
Shumi-abiya when he left Kanesh, but did not return; some letters addressed to
him that had arrived after his departure were never opened and read (33-4).
2. Traders in different situations and contexts
The circumstances under which traders lived and worked in Kanesh could be dif-
ferent and this had a bearing on their archives. We may distinguish the following
situations:
a) A trader as the head of a family who had moved to Kanesh, while leaving his
family, that means his wife and young children, behind in Assur. All impor-
tant family records are in Assur and this situation generates a correspond-
ence between husband and wife. The lively business correspondence is with
the trader’s male relatives, investors and especially his representatives in As-

8 That the victim could give a long, detailed description of all these tablets implies that he had
kept a list of them.
33
the archives of old assyrian traders
sur, who take care of his interests, receive his silver, buy merchandise for ex-
port and equip his caravans. His sons in due time might join him, assist him
in the business and when they are grown up develop their own commercial
activities, to be continued after his death.
A good example is Pushuken, father of four sons, who was active in Kanesh
for more than 20 years and died there. His business was continued mainly
by his son Buzazu, who lived in his house, where his father’s archive was left
in place,
9
to which he added his own records. It contained i. a. letters sent to
Pushuken by his wife in Assur and also many texts dealing with the division
of Pushuken’s inheritance among his children, in which his eldest daughter, a
priestess in Assur, played a prominent role.
b) A variant to this type is the successful trader who after many years returns to
Assur and leaves the business in Kanesh in the hands of his by now experi-
enced son, whom he assists and advises in letters sent from Assur, while also
carrying on some business of his own. The son took over his father’s house
and archive, apart from the records his father had taken along when he re-
turned to Assur, presumably records of affairs that still had not been finished,
although this is not easy to prove, for we have no texts from Assur.
The best example is the prominent trader Imdilum, – whose father Shu-Laban
was already active in Anatolia, – who led the business there at least 17 years,
returned to Assur around 1880 BC and was succeeded by his son Puzur-Ishtar.
The latter is attested for fifteen years, the last seven after his father had died.
The father in Assur kept writing letters to his son, which we have to distin-
guish from copies of letters written by him when he still lived in Kanesh.

c) A young man who moved to kārum Kanesh to trade there in the service of or
in cooperation with his father who remained in Assur. The latter, the boss of
the family business, conducts a lively correspondence with him and also sup-
plies him with merchandise, money, advice and information and in return
receives the silver sent back from Anatolia, which he uses to pay debts and
taxes and to equip a new caravan.
A good example is Assur-nada, son of Assur-idi, whose archive was published
in Larsen 2002. It shows us a father much concerned about what his son does,
such as the latter’s failure to meet promises (of votive gifts) made to the gods,
and also burdened with the task of caring for his son’s children, after the lat-
ter’s wife, who had stayed in Assur, had died. Another example is Ennum-
Assur, the oldest son of Shalim-ahum, a merchant and capitalist living in As-
sur and the main business associate of Pushuken (mentioned under a). He

9 All texts dealing with Pushuken were unearthed and sold by the local villagers early in the
20
th
century and there exists no general description of his (reconstructed) archive, although we
can now identify almost 350 letters and dozens of legal documents that belonged to it.
34
lived, temporarily perhaps together with his brother Dan-Assur, in a house
in Kanesh, whose archive was excavated in 1970 and partially published
(without the tablets still in sealed envelopes) as AKT 3. The archive, not sur-
prisingly, contained letters of the father to his son(s) and letters written by
Ennum-Assur when he traveled and worked elsewhere in Anatolia, to his wife
Nuhshatum. She had to take care of and “guard” his house and the archive
and was occasionally instructed to retrieve documents from the archive for
particular purposes.
d) A grown-up son who had moved to Kanesh with his wife, when he had become
independent or his father in Assur had died and he had inherited his share
in his fortune. He started a business and family life there and his sons in due
time would work with him and get married. In his archive we may also find
contracts and records relating to their family life and the business correspond-
ence is with male relatives, his representatives and his investors in Assur.
A good example is Elamma, the younger son of Iddin-Suen, an energetic im-
porter of merchandise from Assur (which he occasionally visited), whose ar-
chive, excavated in 1991 and 1992, I am publishing. He lived in Kanesh for
more than thirty years (opposite the house of his elder brother Ali-ahum)
and had a lively correspondence with his representatives in Assur. His busi-
ness was carried on after his death by some sons and his energetic widow, La-
massatum, who continued to live in the house for several years and conducted
some business of her own. The archive also contains records dealing with the
division of his father’s, his own and his wife’s inheritance and records about
and letters from various family members living in Kanesh or Assur, such as
a file about the death, funeral and inheritance of a twice married daughter,
10

and letters of his favorite daughter, who was priestess in Assur.
e) In some cases an archive contains a number of records of the father of the trad-
er, but this depended on his age and where he lived, in Assur or Anatolia. We
have e.g. no records of Pushuken’s father Suejja, who lived in Assur, and only
a few of Imdilum’s father Shu-Laban, of whom it is not certain that he lived
in or visited Kanesh.
11
In Ali-ahum’s house in Kanesh, excavated in 1993, with
an archive of more than 900 texts, a few dozen letters addressed to his father
Iddin-Suen were found, but no debt-notes. Cécile Michel
12
assumes that these
letters, which all have low excavation numbers, had been stored separately af-
ter his death, when his son Ali-ahum (active there since ca. 1895 BC) became

10 I studied this file in Veenhof 2008b.
11 Larsen 1982, 224 assumed that the father, who appears already in ca. 1910 BC (ICK 2, 104),
died early and that Imdilum’s uncle Assur-imitti, who lived in Assur, took care of the interests
of the family, before Imdilum himself is attested in the sources, 18 years later.
12 Michel 2008b, 58, footnote 1.
35
the archives of old assyrian traders
the owner of the house and the archive. This contrasts with the archive of Id-
din-Suen’s second son, Elamma (who lived across the street in Kanesh), whose
house, which he must have acquired or built when he became an independent
trader,
13
did not contain documents of his father. The archive of Shallim-Assur,
son of Issu-arik contained a few letters to and records of his father, but no let-
ters written by him after he had returned to Assur, presumably because he
died there soon (AKT 6a, 6). After the death of a pater familias his inheritance
was apparently divided and his “firm” liquidated, whereupon his sons could
start their own business.
14
In most cases one of the sons acquired the house in
Kanesh, where his mother might continue to live, with his father’s archive left
in place, to which his own and his mother’s records would be added.
3. The kĀrum organization
The archives excavated, while clearly those of private entrepreneurs and their
families, also reflect the fact that the Old Assyrian traders belonged to a commu-
nity and organization of traders. They all originated from the same city, Assur, and
had all settled abroad, far from home, in a completely different environment and
society, without military protection. This stimulated forms of cooperation (mu-
tual aid, business partnerships, representation, etc.), but it also took a more struc-
tural form. The totality of the Assyrian traders in Kanesh formed a kind of corpo-
ration, called kārum. This term originally meant the “quay, harbor district” that
every Mesopotamian city had, where bulk goods arrived by boat, and then also
the commercial quarter where traders met and finally its inhabitants as a group. A
kārum could comprise foreign traders, who might organize themselves as a group,
at times with a leader (called “its head”), to cooperate and to be better equipped
to deal with the local powers. Kārum Kanesh was a well-organized, hierarchical
organization, which comprised a plenary assembly, “the kārum great and small”
that met as an “assembly” (puhrum), and knew a committee, designated as “the big
men”, who ran the daily affairs. The plenary kārum appears frequently as court-of-
law to solve the many, mostly commercial conflicts between its members.
The kārum as organization had a building, “the kārum house”, where meetings
were held and its secretary worked, which housed a cella with the statue of the
god Assur (by whose dagger members would swear), and had storage facilities
and an archive. The kārum arranged and supervised the presumably semi-annual
general “accounting of kārum Kanesh” (nikkassū ša kārim Kaneš), which involved
both individual traders and the kārum as such. They were necessary because of

13 The oldest dated text in which he occurs, as creditor, is from ca. 1905 BC, much earlier than
his elder brother, but the latter apparently first operated from Assur, before coming to Kanesh,
perhaps after the death of their father.
14 See Larsen 2007 for this development.
36
the many credit operations and book transfers between members, for account-
ing the results of collective commercial transactions organized by the kārum to
which its members could subscribe, and for settling accounts (on taxes and cred-
it sales) with the local palace, whereby payments and transfers were regularly
channeled via the kārum organization.
Kārum Kanesh was also the administrative head of the colonial network that
consisted of at least 25 other kārums and trading stations (wabartum), spread over
central Anatolia. As such it functioned as an extension of the government of the
City of Assur, to which it was responsible and whose directives it had to apply. It
maintained the diplomatic relations with the many city-states and rulers in Ana-
tolia, with whom treaties had been concluded, and stepped in when problems
arose. It could also issue orders and rulings, and traders in other colonies could
appeal to the authorities of kārum Kanesh for justice.
The archive of the kārum probably contained records (or their copies) ema-
nating from these activities, such as official letters and verdicts, and we have
references to tablets of/in the kārum-house on which traders were “booked/
registered” for certain amounts, which they owed the organization or it owed to
them.
15
Since the “kārum-house” has not been found, we do not have the archives
of kārum Kanesh, but many texts it produced and also received (letters from other
colonies and from the City of Assur and its ruler) are known and give us a wel-
come insight into its workings. They are frequently referred to or quoted in the
business correspondence and several (copies) of them were found in the archives
of the traders. As a self-governing institution the kārum had its members per-
form various administrative, commercial and judicial tasks and in doing so they
produced or were given records and letters, some of which (in part duplicates)
ended up in their archives. The orders and verdicts of the kārum were sealed by
members who administered them and acted as its court-of-law and special mem-
bers (called līmū) could represent the kārum in financial transactions. Messengers
in temporary service of the kārum, sent out to other colonies with official letters
and orders, might take their copy of such texts home when they returned.
16
The
traders in whose cases the kārum intervened by letters, orders and verdicts appar-
ently could acquire duplicates of these records. And this was also the case with
official letters of the City, addressed to the kārum, which dealt with an issue that
involved a particular trader. The texts of three treaties concluded between the As-
syrians and some Anatolian rulers were all found in private archives, presumably


15 See Veenhof 2003, § 1.1. There is e.g. mention of a “big tablet of the kārum-house” and of
a trader’s “deposits [booked] on the third and sixth tablet of the kārum-house”, but we do not
know the system.
16 The role of the messengers of the kārum is described in Veenhof 2008c, 224-46, and there
one finds samples of official letters carried by messengers. A large selection of official letters of
the Assyrian authorities is offered by Michel 2001, Ch.1.
37
the archives of old assyrian traders
because their owners had represented the kārum when they were negotiated and
concluded and had retained a copy of the text.
4. A classification of the texts
The records in the archives can be classified in several broad categories:
a) Letters, which comprise usually ca. 30-50% of the texts of an archive. The main
types are letters related to the caravan system, letters that report on a variety
of commercial and legal problems (frequently small files around a particu-
lar incident), letters from and to family members, and official letters, by the
authorities in Assur or in Kanesh and their agents. An overview is offered by
Michel 2001, who presents 400 of them in translation, divided into seven
chapters, each with its introduction, dealing with the Assyrian and the Anato-
lian authorities, the caravan trade, smuggling, commercial partnerships and
joint-stock companies, family firms (three samples), and the correspondence
of women.
17
b) Legal documents, usually ca. 30% to 40% of the texts, an important older sample
of which (340 records) was published long ago in EL in a careful classification.
They can be distinguished in two types. The first consists of contracts of vari-
ous types, of which debt-notes, service contracts with personnel, transport
contracts, contracts on settling accounts, and quittances are most numerous.
Next there is a limited number of contracts concerning family life (marriage,
divorce – especially when a trader married an Anatolian bride – and inherit-
ance) and a large variety of other contracts, e.g. concerning securities, joint-
stock companies, partnerships, and contracts that served as title deeds, about
the purchase of houses and slaves in Anatolia (frequently from defaulting
debtors, whose pledges were forfeited)
18
. The second comprises a great variety
of records that emanate from and reflect the administration of justice, such
as protocols of private summonses, testimonies, oaths sworn, interrogations,
agreements, records of arbitration, mediation and adjudication, together
with protocols of lawsuits and of verdicts by the various colonial authorities.
In addition verdicts by the City Assembly of Assur, which issued also “strong
letters of the City (Assur)”, written to help a plaintiff whose case has been con-
sidered valid by the legal authorities.

17 Other collections of published letters are those related to the caravan system, studied in
Larsen 1967, the letters in Prague, published in Prag I, those in the Assur-nada archive edited in
Larsen 2002, and translations of letters in the recent volumes in the AKT-series.
18 See for such contracts B. Kienast, Das altassyrische Kaufsvertragsrecht, FAOS Beiheft 1, Stutt-
gart 1984.
38
c) Lists, memorandums and notes, usually ca. 20-30% of the texts, ca. 600 of which,
mostly unearthed before the official excavations by the local villagers and
therefore devoid of their archival context, were edited in Ulshöfer 1995.
Alongside a variety of short notes about expenses, distributions of bread and
meat, small payments, settlements, deposits, etc., the more important catego-
ries are:
– lists of packets of silver and gold, the yield of the trade, but also gifts for
various persons, entrusted for shipment to Assur;
– large memorandums (tahsistum) that register all a trader’s transactions
that had resulted in debt-claims that still had to be paid;
– lists of records present in his archive at a particular moment, probably
drawn up as inventory or because they were transferred.
5. The functions of the texts
Old Assyrian documents are not only very numerous, but there is also no body of
cuneiform texts that contains so many references to the writing, reading, send-
ing, transfer, use and storage of written documents. That is because the success of
the OA trade depended on them and they were indispensable for three reasons:
a) In the system of overland trade based on a colonial network there was a con-
stant need of communication, of passing on information between traders liv-
ing or working at home (in Assur), traveling in the caravans (six weeks from
Assur to Kanesh), living in Kanesh or in one of the many commercial settle-
ments spread over Anatolia. Oral communication did take place, but the trade
would have been very difficult and much less successful without this written
communication.
b) The trade was so sophisticated and “dense” – that is there were so many simul-
taneous transactions of an at times complex nature – that the human mem-
ory was unable to remember all the data. They had to be written down to aid
the memory, to prevent problems and in the interest of good accountability.
c) The nature of the trade and the value of the goods traded on many levels and
in many situations required “valid records” (ṭuppum harmum), that is records
whose contents are certified by the seals of parties and witnesses impressed
on its envelope. By issuing “valid records” traders could obtain and use capital
of investors and money-lenders, buy on credit from the City Hall in Assur, and
they used them to contract caravan personnel, employ commission agents,
sell on credit, and provide and obtain securities. They not only informed
them on transactions, but also provided evidence to be used if problems arose
that had to be solved by private summons, arbitration or formal lawsuits.
39
the archives of old assyrian traders
Written documents therefore had three partly overlapping functions, as means
of communication, as aid to memory and as evidence. These functions must also
have determined the preservation of the records, but here many things are un-
certain. Many letters may have been preserved because they contained impor-
tant business or other information, but others, such as letters from wives and
family, presumably often for emotional reasons. Most letters of both categories
must have lost their informative or evidentiary value after a few years and were
or could have been thrown away, but we cannot establish to what extent that
happened. The preservation of records with a lot of valuable data (e.g. the large
memorandums) and records with evidentiary value (e.g. of contracts, invest-
ments, etc.) is understandable, but most of the commercial records too lost their
value after the transactions recorded had been completed and accounts had been
settled, for they are different from marriage contracts, title deeds, or records of
the division of an inheritance. Such texts, including judicial records confirming
rights that had been contested, had a lasting value, as OB archives show, which
occasionally contain records more than a century old. Most OA loans and cred-
its were for a year or less and only investment loans (ebuṭṭum) and contracts for
joint-stock companies (in which traders used capital made available by inves-
tors) could have a longer duration, up to 10 years in some cases. And even though
we find some very old debt-notes, possibly never paid and therefore preserved,
and we meet a few references to credit not paid back for a very long period, this
does not change the fact that the great majority of the records in the archives no
longer had any practical or legal value. We have to assume that once deposited
in an archive, as long as there was space available to store them, records had a
good chance of remaining there. Sifting, which required reading and classifying
them, presumably did not have priority. When a son succeeded his father and in-
herited his house or when a trader moved elsewhere, to Assur or another colony,
their records (or at least part of them) would be left behind. It seems rather likely
that groups of older records that were no longer needed and were not thrown
away were stored in separate containers. Some of the inscribed (but not sealed)
bullae may have identified them, such as AKT 6a, 16, “Tablets concerning our
Iddin-abum’s debts”, which could be related to groups of records of Shallim-Assur’s
elder brother, found in his archive (see above § 1). Unfortunately the excavation
reports never identify the tablets that were found together in a particular con-
tainer or as a group, nor where exactly such bullae were found.
19
The three functions mentioned of course obtain whenever texts are written,
but they apply in particular in the framework of the OA overland trade and its
colonial system.

19 More such bullae were found in Shallim-Assur’s archive, e.g. Kt 94/k 879, “Memorandums
concerning agents”, and Kt 94/k 1062, “Validated records of my witnesses concerning the sons
of Iddin-abum”, see Özgüç-Tunca 2001, 347-9.
40
5.1. Communication
The colonial system meant that members of the same family and firm were regu-
larly and at times for long periods separated by considerable distances, not only
between Assur and Kanesh, but also between the nearly forty colonies and trad-
ing stations spread out over the whole of Central Anatolia and Northern Mesopo-
tamia. In this situation letters were of vital importance. We can distinguish busi-
ness letters, private letters – especially those exchanged with wives and other
relatives – and official letters, written by the Assyrian authorities, both in Kanesh
and in Assur.
Among the business letters an important category are those required by the
system of overland trade by donkey caravans. They were called “notifying mes-
sages” and “caravan reports” by Larsen 1967. The first type – sent from Kanesh
and from Assur – reports that a caravan with silver and gold or one with tin and
textiles had left Kanesh or Assur and summarily mentions its load, the persons
involved, also with instructions about what to do with the goods. Those dealing
with caravans with silver and gold leaving for Assur must be archive copies kept
in Kanesh. The second type reports on the arrival of the caravan at its destination.
Those sent from Assur, Larsen’s “caravan accounts”, mention the arrival of the
money and describe in detail how it was used to make various payments and in
particular for equipping a new caravan: the purchase of merchandise and don-
keys (with numbers and price) and the hiring of personnel; the Assyrians them-
selves called them “letter of purchases”. Those written in Kanesh, again archive
copies, report on the safe arrival of the merchandise from Assur, its clearance in
the palace (payment of taxes, etc.), the expenses incurred en route and the first
sales made. Such letters may well have been sent ahead of the caravans they de-
scribe, to inform their recipients in time about what was coming. Known dupli-
cates may indicate that a second copy was given along with the caravan. These
letters must be used in combination with the transport contracts drawn up for
these caravans and the detailed accounts of the expenses made by the leader of the
caravan. The few cases where we have all four texts for one caravan are informa-
tive in showing to what extent requests and orders were or could be followed up.
Such letters were also used to check whether the goods arriving matched the data
of the caravan accounts. A nice example is TC 3, 36:16-23, “We opened the packet
(with silver) in the presence of five traders and broke your seals. One took out of
it the excise and checked the remainder of the packet: it contained 14 pounds and
37 ½ shekels, which is 1 pound less than your letter mentioned. They must have
erred when weighing it there (in Kanesh)”.
The bulk of the letters was written in a large variety of situations, usually
to inform about business matters, to make requests or give orders, or to report
on a variety of problems – political, economic, social, personal – that interfered
with the trade. Many were exchanged between traders and their sons, agents or
partners who traveled around in Anatolia or were based in another colony. They
41
the archives of old assyrian traders
could contain warnings for war, unrest, blockades, difficult customers, or prob-
lems with the market, stating that no silver was available, that textiles were in
demand, or that there was too much supply of tin (which affected the price). It al-
lowed the recipient to redirect a caravan or to keep merchandise for some time in
store. Other letters, at times of a more personal kind, but always also with busi-
ness information, were exchanged between a trader traveling in Anatolia and his
wife staying in Kanesh. Many such letters received elsewhere or en route were
apparently taken along when the trader returned to his base in Kanesh and end-
ed up in his archive.
A remarkable sample of communication via various channels is provided by
the letter edited in Larsen 2002 as no. 18. On his journey in Northern Mesopota-
mia, heading for Hahhum, where caravans would normally cross the Euphrates,
Assur-nada receives a letter from his father in Assur, who writes:
If you are afraid to go to Hahhum, go to Urshu (more to the southwest, across the
Euphrates) instead. Please, travel alone. Do not enter Mamma (across the Euphrates,
northwest of Hahhum) together with the caravan. And in accordance with the orders
of the City Assembly your brother’s caravan must be split into three. Then let the first
leave Mamma and as soon as it has reached Kanesh, the second can leave Urshu, and
then the third can leave in the same way.
This letter implies that information on the problems in the area of Hahhum-
Mamma had reached Assur, either directly from there or from Kanesh, where
incoming caravans had told about it. This information then had made the City
Assembly issue an order on the behavior of the caravans and when Assur-nada’s
father learned about it he wrote a letter to his son, who must have received it en
route and have taken it along to Kanesh, where it ended up in his archive.
Interesting information on letters is found in CCT 2, 6:6-15, written when Im-
dilum is accused by an angry partner of constantly writing him heated, incendi-
ary letters (himṭātum), which from now on he will no longer read. Imdilum reacts
by writing: “If I have written you any incendiary letter of mine and you have pre-
served it, send it under your seals to your representatives to show it to me and
put me to shame. Or show it to my representatives there so that they can put me
to shame. I have copies of all letters I have sent you over time!” We know copies
or duplicates, also of letters, but this statement is surprising and if Imdilum was
not an exception or exaggerating, we may assume that most copies were in due
time discarded, for few were found.
While letters were indispensable, the long distances (it took at least five
weeks to travel from Assur to Kanesh) and the time it took to receive a reply, let
alone when the addressee was lax in answering, were at times felt as frustrating.
One trader wrote in an unpublished letter “What? Must we be hurling big words
at each other over a distance of many miles (as) with a sling?” Several traders
complain of having written many letters without getting an answer and some
even protest that “they have used up all the clay in the town” for their letters
42
without getting an answer, or ask “Is there no clay in GN that you do not keep me
informed?” (see Veenhof 2009, 195, with Kt 94/k 497:15).
Official letters played an important role in the administrative and juridical
sphere. Official letters, at times circular letters of the kārum organization (“to
each colony and trading station”) and of the City of Assur could impose regu-
lations and order or forbid certain transactions. Kārum Kanesh could also order
other colonies to take or abstain from certain actions. Official letters of standard-
ized types served the administration of justice by ordering the transfer of a party
or witnesses in a trial (Larsen 1976, 255-8; Veenhof 2008c, 230-4). So-called
“strong tablets of the City”, sent from Assur, could grant rights to plaintiffs, e.g.
to summon or interrogate an opponent, to engage an attorney, to get access to
certain tablets in an archival room, etc. Official letters of the kārum were also in-
strumental in establishing or renewing agreements or “treaties” (“sworn oaths”)
with local rulers or in solving problems, when caravans were detained, goods got
lost, traders were apprehended or killed, or palaces delayed payment for mer-
chandise bought.
We know these official letters only because they were found in private ar-
chives, presumably because, as mentioned, people serving the kārum organiza-
tion apparently did take such letters home after they had accomplished their
job. This was e.g. done by “Kuliya, messenger of the kārum”, whose archive was
published in AKT 5. It contained several such letters, some clearly circular letters,
whose address not only mentioned the colonies and persons to whom it was ad-
dressed, but also Kuliya himself as “our messenger”, which turned such a letter
into his credential, which he apparently took home. The address of AKT 5, 2:1-6
reads: “Thus kārum Kanesh, to the dātum-payers, our messenger Kuliya and the
kārums of Durhumit, Hattush, Tamniya and Tuhpiya, all the way until Nenassa”,
and 5:1-6 begins with: “Thus kārum Kanesh, to Kuliya, our messenger, the kārum
Tegarama and wherever I. son of K. is staying”.
Letters with decisions of the City Assembly in Assur, addressed to kārum
Kanesh, must also have arrived in more copies, meant for the kārum and for the
person with whom it dealt, usually a plaintiff whose case had been considered
strong. Some were even found in unopened envelopes and since not opening
such an important letter is unthinkable, it must have been a duplicate of a let-
ter used by the kārum organization in the relevant lawsuit, meant for the party
involved. ICK 1, 182 is a letter addressed to kārum Kanesh by the ruler of Assur,
which communicated the decision reached by the City to grant Imdilum the
right to hire an attorney and to send him to Kanesh to gain his case. The copy we
know was found in the archive of Imdilum, whom it concerned, but there must
have been another copy in the archives of the kārum.
43
the archives of old assyrian traders
5.2. Aid to Memory
The importance of written records as aid to memory is obvious. Traders were usu-
ally involved in many simultaneous transactions, for their own family or firm,
for investors, for friends and partners for whom they sold merchandise in Anato-
lia. They worked with representatives and agents, who were given merchandise
in commission or sold on credit, and many were also involved in transactions
with or via the kārum organization. It must have been difficult to keep track of
all activities, to remember the size of debts, claims, and investments, due dates,
rates of interest, names of debtors and witnesses. There was, moreover, a concern
about whether agents would pay in time or had to be summoned and charged
default interest. The best aid was drawing up a memorandum
20
– whose Assyrian
name, tahsistum, from the verb “to remind”, has exactly that meaning, – especial-
ly one that listed all a trader’s outstanding claims by excerpting his debt-notes.
Since the claims were often on agents who had received merchandise on credit,
one could also call them “memorandums of outstanding claims” (ša ba’abātim,
CCT 3, 19b:3-4) or “memorandums concerning agents” (ša tamkaruttim), the term
used on the bulla Kt 94/k 879. They were valuable as a means to collect outstand-
ing debts, even in the absence of the original debt-notes, because they provided
the essential data, including the due date and the witnesses, so that the debtor,
confronted with them, would not normally refuse payment. In CCT 3, 19b:3-10,
Pushuken’s wife complains, “your representatives have taken away and keep in
their possession the memorandum with the outstanding claims that you have
left behind in your house (in Assur, when leaving for Anatolia). I cannot get at
anything and do not know at all whether they have paid your creditors or not.
It is up to you!” The biggest such memorandum I know is a tablet with 113 long
lines that registers in abbreviated form 62 different transactions from a period
of 18 years.
21
Such memos were drawn up from time to time or updated and the
fact that in most cases the original debt-notes excerpted in them are not present
in the archive shows that the debts had been paid; only the contracts of a few bad
debts remained.
Memorandums could be kept in a strong room in a “box” (tamalakkum), as
mentioned in BIN 6, 19:18, and some bullae attached to containers mention
“memorandums” among their contents, e.g. Kt 84/k 878, “My tablets in sealed
envelopes, my copies, and memorandums”.
22
While in general memorandums

20 The expression tahsistam nadā’um means “to draw up a memorandum”, or more simply “to
note down”. Memorandums are frequently mentioned in surveys of available documents (see
for references CAD T s.v.) and BIN 6, 18:18-20 asks: “Bring the boxes (tamalakkū) with memoran-
dums along”.
21 See Veenhof 1985.
22 See Özgüç-tunca 2001, 347; note also Kt n/k 1460:24-26, “ṣiliānu-containers made of rush
in which memos have been placed”.
44
as private records were not sealed – one calls them “open memorandum” (t. patî-
tum; AKT 6b, 375:11; 446:19-20), we occasionally also meet a memo with seals.
In Kt n/k 176:4-10, I. asks B. “Does this memo not carry your seals? B. answers:
‘They are my seals’. They opened the memo and 45 shekels of silver proved to be
written in the memo”. And BIN 4, 32:34-36 asks: “Encase a memo in an envelope
(harāmum) and write in it …”. Though not a valid legal record a memo might con-
tain important or confidential data, that had to be protected by a sealed envelope
and therefore Ka 24b:31-33 asks to send a memorandum of witnesses under seal.
Because most transactions concerned valuable goods or money and entailed
liabilities it was customary to carry them out in the presence of witnesses and to
record them in writing. But in some situations no witnessed record was drawn
up, but a private note or memo in the first person singular (“I gave, entrusted,
paid…”), where the mention of the witnesses in whose presence the action had
taken place did suffice, since one could summon them when necessary. An ex-
ample of how this worked is found in the letter Kt 94/k 769 (courtesy of M. T.
Larsen):
I left (as credit) 32 shekels of silver in city B. with E. When we met on the road I said
to him: “Give me the silver I gave you!”. He answered: “I have sent it to you with A.” I
then seized A. and said: “The silver E. gave you, give that to me!” A. answered: “E. did
not give me any silver! If E. can produce witnesses that he gave it to me, I will pay you”.
Now seize E. and let him give you the 32 shekels of silver. If he refuses to pay confront
him with strong conditions.
23
If E. says: “I really gave it to A.”, then let him give you the
name of his witnesses, assist him to get a tablet with (the testimony of) his witnesses
in ‘the gate of the god’ and let him bring it to me.
“Memorandums” were drawn up in many situations, dealt with a variety of issues
and could vary greatly in size and complexity. Archives usually contain groups of
small tablets with up to a dozen lines of script (often only partially inscribed),
that register one or a few transactions, usually payments (to be) made and trans-
fers of goods, which were probably drawn up during a business trip, as aid to
memory, presumably by the traders themselves, many of which were able to read
and write; some of them exhibit a non-professional hand. The few groups I found
in the archive of Elamma, judging from their excavation numbers probably were
kept together and perhaps still had to be digested or submitted for accounting. A
very small tablet, with only four lines of script (Kt 91/k 338) reads, “3 shekels of
silver due from the man of Ebla, who took the wool”. That such texts were called
tahsistum, “memo”, is shown by Kt 91/k 339 (an oblong tablet of only 1 ½ by 2 ½ cm
and with seven small lines of script): “1 mina 2 shekels of tin S. borrowed from
me; this tahsistum is a later one (warkiat)”, perhaps an addition to a previous lot.
A particular type of memo is of the following type: “I am entitled to a share of 1 ½

23 They usually were that if the person refusing payment was proved wrong he would pay the
double or triple of the disputed sum.
45
the archives of old assyrian traders
mina of silver in the ‘holding’ (and) and of 45 shekels in the ‘one-thirds-fund’ of
the caravan of A and B.” (Kt 91/k 323, and variations). They state a trader’s share
in the proceeds from a particular caravan (ellutum) and were no doubt submit-
ted when the accounts were settled.
24
Why and when memos were drawn up is
shown e.g. by the letter ATHE 30:17-23, written by a transporter: “22 ½ shekels of
silver, the price of 2 ½ kutānu-textiles of D., which you charged to me, you have
(already) deducted from the transport fee due to me. Do not forget it over there,
draw up a memo about it”.
25
The writer of TC 3, 100 had promised to do so, saying
“when the two textiles I gave you have been converted into silver, I will draw up
your memo,” but has to confess “I forgot it when the caravan was leaving”.
Apart from the big memorandums of outstanding claims, there were “mem-
orandums of witnesses”, to all appearances a list of witnesses that had been
involved in a particular case. Those “concerning the payment for the wool of
Ushinalam”, mentioned in the bulla Kt 94/k 1664, must have been attached to a
container that held the memos published as AKT 6a, nos. 91-103. Larsen describes
them as «small, square tablets, ca. 3,5 to 4 cms in size (…) which give an amount
of silver which has been received from the proceeds of Ushinalam’s wool and
conclude with a list of witnesses» (AKT 6a, 17).
26
The use of a memo of witnesses
is shown by CCT 5, 17a: “We gave our testimony before Assur’s dagger and I now
send you a copy of the valid tablet drawn up in the Gate of the God. Read it and
make up your mind and then submit a notification
27
to the gentleman, which
he has to confirm or to deny and also draw up a memo of your witnesses.” The
testimony under oath, rendered by the writers, is sent to the addressee, who
has to use it to force his opponents to accept or deny the claim. This is done in
a formal confrontation, in the presence of (court) witnesses and the writers ask
the addressee to send them a note on who they were (so that they could be sum-
moned later, if the problem was not solved). Another example is in the letter
CCT 4, 14b:15-18, where the creditor A. has to be paid: “He (Hanaya) still owes me
[x] minas 15 shekels of silver. And when I departed on my trip I left you a memo
with my witnesses, saying: Draw up a valid record (of their testimony), then in-
tervene and take (it) from the silver of Hanaya and satisfy A.”

24 See for the system and the terminology used, Dercksen 2004, Ch. 9.
25 In Assyrian: ina libbika e ūṣi tahsistaka idi (correct the editio princeps).
26 These memorandums mention in all ca. 2 talents 18 pounds of silver, the proceeds from the
sale of ca. 25 tons of wool, received by 13 different traders, which shows the size and complexity
of this commercial operation.
27 The expression is nudu’am nadā’um, perhaps “to make a note, to serve somebody a notice”
(one also finds “to give somebody a n.”). The noun, from the verb nadā’um that is used for “to put
down, draw up” (e.g. a memorandum), occurs a few times in the combination ina tahsisātim u
nudu’ātim, “among (a person’s) memorandums and notifications” (see CAD N/II 312 s.v. nudu’u),
as the place where one has to look for a particular tablet, but we are as yet unable to differentiate
the two types.
46
5.3. Evidentiary Value
Most transactions, which frequently concern valuable merchandise or substan-
tial sums of money, took place before witnesses and were recorded in writing,
usually on a “valid tablet” (ṭuppum harmum). This term qualifies a tablet by the
verbal adjective harmum, lit. “covered (by a clay envelope)”, which has the mean-
ing “valid(ated)”, because the envelope carries the seal impressions of parties, wit-
nesses, etc., that gives a record its legal, evidentiary power.
28
The inscriptions on
the bullae, attached to various containers with tablets, mention among their con-
tents “valid tablets”,
29
which were carefully preserved so that, if problems arose,
they could be “produced”, “shown” or “submitted”. “Valid tablets” could record a
variety of contracts concluded before witnesses, ranging from simple debt-notes
to contracts about a joint-stock company (naruqqum), with many investors and a
large capital. Others are settlements of accounts, agreements, records of deposit,
acquisition of securities, sale of houses and slaves, etc. They were used during
private summonses and lawsuits and could settle conflicts, unless it was claimed
and proved that a record was no longer valid.
30
The awareness of their existence
and warning statements such as “I have in possession a valid tablet” (ṭuppam har-
mam ukâl), scil. as proof of my claim, must have induced people to meet their
obligations. The importance of such a “valid record” is also clear from Kt n/k 470
(courtesy of C.Günbattı), drawn up to “revive”, to replace a lost quittance as proof
of the payment of a debt. Lines 1-9 presumably repeat the original text, stating
that the debt has been paid, and they are followed by the phrase that the kārum
organization summoned those who had sealed that record, who then “revived
(l. 15, balluṭum) the tablet before Assur’s dagger” by their testimony under oath.
31

Various types of “valid records” were generated by granting credit and ex-
tending loans, due to complications met in collecting or paying them, in forcing

28 The verb is also used in abbreviated expressions, such “witnesses harrumum”, short for
“drawing up a valid record of a testimony sealed by the witnesses”.
29 Ten occurrences in Özgüç-Tunca 2001, 319-50. Note Kt m/k 100, with the text “Copies of
valid tablets of the debt of A. and I., whose originals are in the strong room of Ṣ.,” and Kt 93/k 273,
“Valid tablet with the verdict of the kārum concerning S.” In AKT 3, 106:11-13, a trader asks his
wife to send him “the boxes (tamalakkū) with valid records which A. left behind with you”.
30 OA expresses this by the stative of the factitive stem of the verb akāšum, ukkuš, not yet rec-
ognized in CAD A/I s.v., meaning 3, which mentions only one occurrence and translates “mis-
laid”. The now more than a dozen references leave no uncertainty about its meaning, e.g. in
POAT 2:24-26, where as a result of a comprehensive settlement of accounts “all the earlier valid
tablets of the debt of I. are (now) cancelled” (ú-ku!-šu), and such a fact can also be the conse-
quence of a verdict (CCT 5, 18d:3-5). In Kt r/k 17:5-6 a man is accused of having given “invalid
tablets” as pledges. In younger variants of the clause in quittances, that if the missing debt-note
still turns up it is “invalid” (see below under b), ukkuš may replace sar, e.g. in Ugarit-Forschungen
7 (1975) 318, no. 4:15 (read: a
!
-ku-uš).
31 “Reviving” lost legal records is attested in other periods too, see Veenhof 1987, 49-50 for
some Old Babylonian examples.
47
the archives of old assyrian traders
defaulting debtors to pay or provide a security. They were meant to safeguard the
interests of the creditor, as is shown by some cases where in the objectively styled
contracts in the third person singular clauses in the first person singular were
inserted, (as) spoken by the creditor during the transaction and by which he had
claimed (additional) security.
32
They occur in various types and situations and the
most important types are the following.
a) A debtor denying or disputing a claim, promising a (delayed) payment and in
some other situations could be forced to accept a “binding agreement” (tarkis-
tum) in which he promised to pay a fine (frequently the double or triple) if he
was subsequently proved wrong or did not live up to his promise. A similar
“contract” could be imposed upon a person who shifted a debt claim to some-
body else and therefore had to “confirm” (ka’’ unum) this presumed debtor on
penalty of a fine. The result in such cases was a witnessed “valid tablet of his
binding agreement”, on which he impressed his seal.
33
b) If a debtor paid his creditor or his creditor’s representative and they did not
have the original debt-note available to return it, the debtor received a “tablet
of satisfaction”, a quittance (ṭuppum ša šabā’ē). It recorded the payment in the
presence of witnesses and invariably stated that if later the debt-note should
turn up it was invalid (sar; examples in EL nos. 191ff., and see above note 30).
Letters mention that such a quittance could be exchanged for the original
debt-note, whereupon both records could “die” (muātum) or “be killed”. This is
usually interpreted as “be cancelled”, which was done by breaking the sealed
envelope, which deprived the tablet inside of legal force
34
(but allowed its
preservation for administrative purposes, see below § 6 on “splitting a tab-
let”). That several quittances have turned up in archives suggests that the ex-
change and perhaps the return of the original debt-note did not always take
place or perhaps at times was impossible. While it is true that a debt-note
became harmless if its envelope was removed and the existence of a quittance

32 E.g. clauses where the creditor states “item/person x is my pledge” (Veenhof 2001, 127-8),
or where he grants himself the right, if the debtor defaults, to borrow the amount owed at the
latter’s expense with a money-lender (see below type c).
33 See for the procedure Kt 91/k 242:3’-11’, "They drew up a valid tablet of his contract(ual ob-
ligation), that he promised to confirm PN. If he does no confirm PN, he will pay in accordance
with the contract of his valid tablet to the creditor […]” (remainder missing). An example of
such a “contract” is TC 3, 262, dealing with a man who denied the accusation of not having paid
his share in the purchase price of a slave. The envelope, after mentioning the seals, begins with
“Contract (tarkistum) of S. …, that he will pay 12 shekels of silver for 6 shekels of silver”, hence a
conditional penalty of 100%.
34 See for “dying tablets”, Veenhof 1987, 46-50, where some occurrences are discussed. In
Prag I 446, an arrangement between the sons of debtor and creditor, states that if the former
produces a sealed quittance, the latter will release the debt-note, whereupon “the one tablet will
smash the other”. The exceptional use of this verb (mahāṣum) indicates physical destruction.
48
neutralized its validity, the debtor must have wanted his debt-note back to
destroy it.
c) A loan contract with the creditor as debtor, because, as he had stipulated in
the debt-note, he was authorized to borrow the debt owed by a defaulting
debtor at the latter’s expense with a moneylender and to charge the debtor
compound interest (Veenhof 1999, 66-9).
d) Debt-notes, usually for smaller debts, which are stated to be owed to “the
tamkārum”, that is an unnamed creditor. This allowed cession of the claim and
we have letters where somebody writes in such a case: “I have a record stating
that I am the tamkārum”. In about a dozen cases we meet the clause stating
that “the bearer [twice “the holder”] of the tablet is the creditor” (wābil ṭuppim
šut tamkārum). It turned debt-notes into bearer’s cheques – the earliest occur-
rence of this device – and this made it possible to cede and perhaps to sell
debts (see Veenhof 1997, 351-64).
The procedure described under d) explains the existence of a particular type of
debt-note and means that it may turn up in an archive without a (for us) obvious
connection with its owner, and there are more OA devices that have such con-
sequences. One is that debt-notes and similar records had a monetary value and
could function as a kind of (clay) money. They could be handed over as pledges,
alongside valuable property,
35
and at the division of a trader’s inheritance his
widow and children could be assigned bonds, which they could exchange or con-
vert into silver. Shares in a joint-stock company (formulated as a debt owed to
the investor) could be inherited and sold, and I even found a case where a man
was ready to draw up a (in my opinion fictive) contract whereby he owed to his
brother’s creditor exactly the same amount of silver as his brother and so provid-
ed him a security. It is only in officially excavated archives that one can identify
such “strange” tablets and search for an explanation of their presence.
Alongside witnessed contracts also “testimonies” (šibuttum) play an impor-
tant role in the OA commercial society as evidentiary records, for several reasons.
One is that commercial transactions inside Anatolia could be cash, that in the
trade promises and oral agreements were used, and that in general in trade not
all payments, expenses and losses could be recorded in writing before witness-
es.
36
Therefore they had to be accounted for by statements, oral declarations, not
infrequently under oath. In OB commercial partnerships too the final settle-
ment of accounts about yields, losses, and profit frequently took place by clear-

35 See for this feature, Veenhof 2001, 132-3.
36 Not necessarily because no writer was available, for there are indications that traders could
read and write, as shown by less professionally written texts and the information that a son of
a trader was learning the scribal craft in Assur.
49
the archives of old assyrian traders
ance (tēbibtum, ubbubum) in the temple of the Sun god, apparently under oath.
Testimonies could become necessary if a trader died and not all his assets and
debts could be proved, records turned up whose status was uncertain and if his
sons and heirs had to declare “We are sons of the dead, we do not know …” In
such situations oral witnesses are produced and testify and we have two verdicts
of the City Assembly in Assur that refer to an existing procedural law, written on
a stele, that states that a debt-claim on a dead trader will only be honored “if it is
confirmed by witnesses”.
37

Most testimonies appear in the course of the administration of justice and
this was a consequence of the judicial practice, because it was often not easy to
recover the facts due to the complications of the trade and because parties, wit-
nesses and evidence could be in different places.
38
One usually tried to solve con-
flicts, especially on the payment of debts and similar claims, first on a private
level by summoning a debtor or opponent “before witnesses” or mediators. The
latter were “seized” (at times by mutual agreement of the parties) in order to “fin-
ish, settle the affair” (awātim gamārum). Letters frequently mention these mat-
ters and ask “to set witnesses against” (šībē šakānum ana) a person who refuses
to meet his liabilities. When such a private attempt failed or when the opponent
did not stick to what he had promised, the plaintiff could appeal to the kārum
court to obtain satisfaction. In such a case this court first made the witnesses and
mediators who had been present at the earlier confrontations render testimony
of what had happened and had been said. Occasionally the testimony of these
witnesses and mediators had already been recorded in writing, in which case we
read, “We gave our tablet”. In most cases they gave an oral testimony “before the
dagger of Assur” or “in the gate of the god”, which was then recorded in writing
in the form of a deposition in the first person, which the witnesses signed (by
impressing their seals) and which was given to the court.
To do so certain complications might have to be surmounted, because the
usually two or three witnesses were expected to deliver a single testimony, one
of “witnesses in agreement” (šībū etamdūtum; BIN 4, 70:17-18, “until I obtain a
tablet of two witnesses in agreement so that we do not come to shame”). And
this final testimony, recorded in writing, was at times apparently preceded by
and based on drafts, which we find in the archives, alongside (provisional) copies

37 See Veenhof 1995, 1729, on the use of the verb kuānum, “to be confirmed”, as used in
Kt a/k 394:17 and Kt n/k 1925:16f. This is not a general law applying in all situations, for the
verb as such can be used of both oral and written evidence, as shown by another verdict of the
City Assembly, quoted in AKT 6a, 294:16-17, which demands that a disputed debt, contracted in
Anatolia, “shall be confirmed by his tablets or his witnesses”. There was no difference between
the value and power of oral and written evidence, their use was conditioned by their availability
and the situation.
38 See for the details and the variation in the procedures and testimonies the dissertation of
Thomas Hertel, Old Assyrian Legal Practices, defended in Copenhagen in 2007 and to be pub-
lished soon.
50
of testimonies, probably prepared for the benefit of the plaintiff or of those who
had rendered it. The unique judicial record POAT 9, drawn up because one party
contested a testimony given, describes how it had been drafted. In a formal ap-
peal D. said to M.:
I did not arrange to let you give testimony. Why have you given a tablet with your tes-
timony?” M. answered: “I did not give the tablet at my own initiative. The gentleman
(who needed the testimony) appealed for us with kārum Tawiniya and the kārum made
us testify, whereupon we, I and my companion, gave the tablet (with our testimony)”.
M. added: ”When we drew up the tablet in the gate of the god my companion remind-
ed me of a few things (“words”) that I did not know. And after I had made him swear
an oath (“made him raise his hands”) we added them”. D. repeated: “I did not arrange
to let you give testimony!”
The administration of justice by formal courts also gave rise to a variety of re-
cords. The kārum authorities and the City Assembly could both issue “strong tab-
lets” that granted plaintiffs whose case had been considered strong, the right to
hire an attorney, who had powers that enabled him to search for the truth. Parties
could be forced to swear an oath in which they had to confirm or deny a variety
of facts. Such formal, substantive oaths were apparently carefully formulated and
written down in advance by the court. They started with a formal invocation, “Lis-
ten, god/goddess of the oath”, followed by verbal forms in the mode (subjunctive)
of the oath” (e.g. EL 284, and CCT 5, 14b). Such formal oaths were sworn while
holding the dagger of the god Assur, in “the gate of the god”, and in such cases the
court could appoint special witnesses to attend the swearing of these oaths. The
tablet with the text of the oath sworn was put in an envelope, with the seals of the
persons “who heard his oral statement” (ša pi/ašu išme’ū) to confirm its authentic-
ity. It usually ended up in the archive of the party that had won the case.
The complexity of the issues and the fact that persons and evidence could be
located in Assur, Kanesh or elsewhere, frequently prevented a quick solution and
verdict. It resulted in various so-called ‘procedural verdicts’, that prescribe steps
to be taken to collect the evidence and find the truth, such as gaining access to
tablets, summoning witnesses, interrogating people, making statements, and
they can be conditional (“if… then…”). The final verdict, frequently passed many
months later, is usually rather short and restricted to the main issue. OA did not
produce verdicts of the Old Babylonian type, which present a short history of
the case, describe the various steps taken to find the truth and even occasionally
mention the reason for the verdict. Difficult cases, in particular those concerning
the liquidation of a business after a trader’s death and the division of his inherit-
ance, could generate large files of, at times, dozens of texts of different type, most
of which are undated. The challenge to reconstruct such cases can only be met if
such a file can be reconstructed or is found in an excavated archive.
51
the archives of old assyrian traders
6. Functional overlap
The three functions of written records overlap. Information in letters, in particu-
lar in the long caravan accounts, is a valuable aid to memory and it can be used to
claim that a caravan upon arrival proves to contain less that had been mentioned
in the letter that also functioned as a kind of bill of lading. Long memorandums
listing outstanding claims can be more than an aid to memory. CCT 2, 8-9, a let-
ter of 75 lines written by Imdilum to his brother, his son and an agent, consists
mainly of a long list of his outstanding claims, which quotes two memorandums
we have (CCT 6, 9a and KTS 2, 42), but it ends with the request: “Please, make all
these agents (tamkārē) pay!”. The data from the memorandum transmitted in the
letter apparently enabled the addressees to dun the debtors, even without the
original debt-notes at hand, because they must have been aware of their liabili-
ties and knew that with the data available the witnesses could always be sum-
moned to buttress the claims.
Letters can also have evidentiary value, especially those called našpertum,
“missive”. The word is very common, but refers especially to letters that are not
simply communications, but in which orders and authorizations are given, facts
are stated or acknowledged, or claims established. They have a kind of legal force
and are sent under seal to the person (a partner, agent, representative) who can
use them to realize something in the name of the sender. A našpertum can bring
about the release of a tablet held as security for a debt and they play a role when
more persons are involved in a transaction, e.g. when debts, claims, securities or
merchandise have been transferred and an authorized “missive” is required to
be able to proceed. In ICK 2, 150, where E. had probably ceded his debt-claim or
entrusted its collection to his partner, we read: “If E. says: ‘I. owes ten pounds of
copper to P.’ and if P. indeed brings a našpertum with E.’s seal stating that I. does
owe 10 minas of copper to P., then I. will pay the copper to P.” The text adds that “if
the našpertum is supplied I. shall not make E. swear an oath”, i.e. is not entitled to
request further proof. Kt 91/k 368:20-25 states that “if A. (to whom E. had entrust-
ed merchandise for transport) protests against releasing it to P. (the addressee of
the letter), then let him hear the našpertum of E. that he must entrust the textiles
in their sealed bags to you.”
Because of their evidentiary value such missives were preserved in their
sealed envelopes or in a packet. Archives have yielded more than forty inscribed
bullae with the text “našpertum of PN”, apparently a label attached to such a tablet
or a packet containing it, stored in the archive. They remind me of OB letters in
which superiors give instructions, which at the end may state: ”Keep/guard this
letter of mine as testimony / proof of me /my word”. It is not by accident that
these words occur especially on a rare category of sealed Old Babylonian letters,
called ze’pum, which may be compared to the equally sealed Sumerian “letter or-
ders”, kept by administrators as proof of the discharge of an order, of the deliv-
52
ery of goods.
39
I also mention here that when the ruler of Assur wrote a letter to
Pushuken to ask him for a favor (POAT 18) and promises that he will take action
for him in a undisclosed matter, he adds in lines 17-21: “Now look, one brings you
two tablets. Read one of them and keep the other with you”. The second must be
POAT 18, found in its sealed envelope and I assume that it was preserved as proof
of the promises made by the ruler.
Legal documents, both contracts and judicial records, with a primary eviden-
tiary function, of course at the same time can be valuable sources of information
and this may have been a reason to preserve them, also when their legal value
no longer mattered. This is particularly true of debt-notes, occasionally true
loans, but more frequently recording the amount of silver an agent has to pay for
merchandise received in commission. Upon payment of the debt they had to be
given back to the debtor – they are called “his tablet” – to annihilate this proof of
a discharged liability (see above, § 5.3, b). But for a trader, creditor or debtor, the
information provided by a debt-note could be valuable for his administration, in
particular if he had to render account of his business to investors or partners. I
have suggested that, upon payment, one could break the sealed envelope (which
gave it its legal force) and preserve the tablet inside, now devoid of any legal val-
ue. This would explain why so many debt-notes without envelopes are found in
archives, not all of which we can simply consider proof of unpaid debts. This is
now confirmed by a few occurrences of the verb laṭā’um, “to split”, with a tablet
as object, e.g. AKT 6c, 561:7-15, “Pay this silver to E. and obtain the release of my
tablet (debt-note) and split it and deposit it with A., among my tablets” (cf. AKT
6c, 671:14-16 and Larsen’s note on these lines). It means separating envelope and
tablet, destroying the former, which carries the seal impression of the debtor and
gives it its legal force, and keeping the tablet inside.
7. Copies and duplicates of records
The preceding pages have made clear for which purposes written records were
used, but some additional data must be added. Insight into the use of tablets
is also provided by the many references to copies or duplicates (mehrum or me-
hertum). The inscription on the sealed bulla Kt 94/k 878 identifies the contents
of the container it was attached to as “my valid records, my copies and memoran-
dums”, and TTC 21:1-7 states “we entrusted the boxes with tablets of E. (and) the
boxes with copies (tamalakkī mehrī)” for transport. Inbi-Ishtar in CCT 2, 17b:3-6

39 The OB letters write ṭuppī anniam ana šibūtia (variants šībūt awātia and qīp awātia) kil(lam)
or uṣur, cf. Veenhof 1986, 33 note 125; see for ze’pum, F. R. Kraus, in: J.-M. Durand - J.-R. Kup-
per (eds.), Miscellanea Babylonica. Mélanges offerts à Maurice Birot, Paris 1985, 141f., § 7. An unpub-
lished Old Babylonian letter order writes “preserve my tablet as (if it were) a sealed document’
(kīma kanīkim).
53
the archives of old assyrian traders
asks his correspondent to take along “both valid records and copies and memo-
randums that you have in your possession” and KTS 40:33 mentions “tablets of
my witnesses and their copies”. We also read requests to make and send copies
overland,
40
for which one used a specific term, mehram šubalkutum, as discovered
by Larsen. It is used in AKT 6a, 231:8-17, “On the day my father left Assur he made
his testament in your presence. Please, my fathers and lords, have a copy of my
father’s will made, what he decided for us. Give this tablet, as it has been cleared
(?), to A. and send him here with the first caravan”.
We have to distinguish between copies and duplicates, although Old Assyrian
does not have separate terms for them. A duplicate is a document that was imme-
diately produced in more copies, an example of which is the letter of the ruler of
Assur sent to Pushuken (POAT 18, see § 6), both copies of which apparently were
in an envelope sealed by the ruler and hence “valid”. With “valid deeds” we can
easily identify copies made later, because they can only reproduce the text on the
envelope, which begins by listing the persons who had sealed it, while on the tab-
let inside they are mentioned at the very end, as those “in whose presence” (ma-
har) the contract had been concluded. An example is AKT 6a, 123, a copy of the text
on the envelope of an original debt-note, referred to in other texts, but not pre-
served in the archive. Such copies of debt-notes (also of quittances and service
contracts) make sense, because the sealed envelope usually reproduces the text of
the contract inside, occasionally with minor differences, also due to limitations
of space alongside the seal impressions. Of many “valid tablets”, notably deposi-
tions, the text on the envelope is usually short and limited to mentioning the
witnesses and the so-called ‘procedural formula’, “for this affair the kārum gave
us and we gave our testimony before Assur’s dagger”. Copies of such envelopes
are useless, since they do not contain the substance of the testimony or agree-
ment. If copies of such texts are needed they have to be made before the tablet is
encased in the sealed envelope and this is indeed what we can observe. I mention
some examples of copies of depositions from the archive of Shallim-Assur, now
accessible in AKT 6a. First copies made from (indicated by =) tablets before they
were encased in envelopes: 10 = 10a inside envelope 10b; 56 = 58 inside 57; 77 = 79
inside 78; 84 = 83 inside 82; 191 = 191a inside 191b; 194 = 195b inside 195a. Other
tablets, on the basis of the identity of the witnesses and the “procedural formula”
must be copies of tablets still inside their unopened envelopes: 46 and 47 = 48,
53 = 54, 104 = 105, 106 and 107 = 108, 118 and 119 = 117, 195 = 196a. And we also
have copies of depositions whose sealed original is not preserved in the archive:
63 = 64 (settling accounts), 221 = 222 (summons), 227 = 228 (interrogation), 257 = 258
(interrogation), 270 = 271 (answer to an attorney, called “witnessed statement”).

40 See references in CAD M/II, s.v. mihru, 1, a, 2’, a’-b’. Cf. TC 3, 9:14-16, “send overland to me a
copy of the record stating that my affair is terminated”; TC 3, 44:14’-19’, “they have removed the
copy (of the caravan account), there is no copy of the textiles they have been depositing here.
We have made and sent copies of the valid records and they are under seal in the house”.
54
The same applies to verdicts of a kārum, where the text on the envelope starts
with “Seal of kārum GN”, while the (copy of the) tablet inside begins with “The
kārum passed the following verdict: …” This applies to AKT 6a, 66 (copy) and 67
(unopened envelope), cf. the tablet 80 from the opened envelope 81.
Shallim-Assur’s archive also contained three virtually identical copies of a
contract for the transport of a large amount of silver to Assur, AKT6b, 478-480,
whose purpose is not clear, but the background might have been a conflict. This
is suggested by texts 495-497, three identical copies that start with the text of
such a transport contract, but presented as testimony by the persons who had
witnessed the transfer of the silver, given because, as the ‘procedural formula’
shows, the kārum had made them testify.
I am not able to offer a general picture of the making and use of copies, which
requires much more research and has to take into account the numerous refer-
ences in letters. But I note that the edition of an excavated archive shows that
copies, especially of depositions and at times several of the same record, were
fairly numerous and apparently considered useful. Their presence in Shallim-As-
sur’s archive probably has to do with the long and at times bitter fights between
members of the family, which generated and required a lot of written evidence,
in addition to the presence of a large file concerning a dead brother, whose execu-
tioner Shallim-Assur was (see above § 1). All copies mentioned above were found
in this archive and therefore had been kept in store. Copies certainly will also
have been sent out to provide others, members and associates of the family/firm
living elsewhere (including Assur), with records of evidentiary and informative
value. Many letters do indeed mention the making and dispatching of copies and
we have information on their uses during summonses and lawsuits.
For the existence of copies of letters various explanations are possible and
some reasons have already been mentioned in § 5.1. Copies or duplicates are also
likely for important letters addressed to more than one person, if they did not live
in the same place. While most copies we know are of legal documents, we cannot
assume that every person who sealed a contract or deposition as witness received
a copy of it. Copies of debt-notes are fairly rare, but they were occasionally made
to allow a partner or representative to collect a debt. In CCT 2, 38:3-9, Puzur-Assur
writes to Pushuken: “I told you that I wished to stay here one month longer in
order to collect all my outstanding claims. But you said: ‘Leave me your copy, then
I will collect the silver and send it after you’.” Such a copy therefore is comparable
to a memorandum with excerpts of debt-notes. Some of the latter state why they
were made, e.g. EL 225:47-48, “Copy of valid records (made because) they went
overland”, similarly EL 224:37-38, ICK 1, 187:63, TC 3, 13:45-47, each time at the
end of a long memorandum. It is understandable that this was done for reasons
of security, considering the value of the original debt-notes. Security is also sug-
gested as a reason for making a copy in CCT 3, 14-19, whose writer orders to bring
all his belongings into a new house, “lock it up and give a copy (listing) all you left
behind to the maid and leave a second one behind in the main dwelling”. Some
55
the archives of old assyrian traders
of the copies of testimonies or depositions must be due, as mentioned above (§
5.3), to the fact that several witnesses together had to give one single testimony,
which generated drafts and copies to be checked and approved. But they also ap-
pear in connection with important legal cases, apparently to provide witnesses
with written evidence of what they had testified and for which they might be
held responsible. An interesting example are the two copies of a long deposition
in connection with a conflict between the kārum organization and an Anatolian
ruler, who had accused and jailed an Assyrian trader for conspiring with a rival
ruler. The deposition reports how the kārum negotiated with the ruler to obtain
the release of its member, but we do not know how the affair ended. The depo-
sition is given by five traders, apparently appointed to negotiate for the kārum
organization, and they testify before the kārum of what had happened. That this
was done “in accordance with a tablet of the City” (of Assur), shows that the mat-
ter was important enough to get the City involved. One copy of this long text was
found in the archive of the family of the victim, Assur-taklaku, excavated in 1993
(see Michel 2008b), apparently supplied in order to inform his relatives. The
second turned up in that of Usur-sha-Ishtar, excavated in 1962, who was one of
the traders who had negotiated and testified.
41
One might expect other copies of
this deposition, made for the other members of the delegation, for the archive of
the kārum and one to be sent to Assur. This is a rare example, because we know
the origin of the two copies, but it suggests that there were more such cases, also
in less serious affairs, where copies of a deposition may have been made and dis-
tributed, but they are difficult to identify if we are dealing with records from il-
licit excavations, scattered by the antiques trade.
8. Finding one’s way in a large archive
The use of a large archive with more than a thousand cuneiform tablets is only
possible to somebody who knows what it contains, where particular texts are to
be found and is able to read them. This was obviously in the first place the owner
of the archive and we know that many traders could read. But others too had to
be able to do it, e.g. if in the absence of the trader a debt-note had to be retrieved
(šēṣu’um) to be returned to a debtor who had paid or to be shown to a reluctant
one, when a tablet handed over as pledge or given in safe deposit was asked back,
or when a trader had died and particular records needed to be inspected or used.
The use of an archive by its owner is taken for granted and we regularly read
that he inspects, selects, takes, removes and adds documents, which are “placed
among his tablets” (ina libbi ṭuppēšu šakānum). More information is occasionally

41 See for the copy excavated in 1962, C. Günbatti, The River Ordeal in Ancient Anatolia, in: W. H.
van Soldt (ed.), Veenhof Anniversary Volume, Leiden 2001, 151-60, where one also finds the data
on the other copy, Kt 93/k 145.
56
given when an absent owner asks others, such as his wife, employee or partner,
to do so and he gives some details, or when he shows his concern about the safety
of his records. The writer of AKT 3, 112, hearing about A.’s departure writes: “I
had entrusted to him the boxes with tablets under my seal and he was to guard
my seals (....) Ask his representatives there whether he has left the tablets some-
where(?) or has taken them out personally”. Good examples of requests to wives
are in the letters addressed by Ennam-Assur to his wife Nuhshatum, who is in
charge of his house in Kanesh and has to guard it and its archive. “Do not give
any tablet to anybody until you see me”, he writes to her in Kt 91/k 563:10-14. It
is probably not by accident that in the address of his letters she usually figures
alongside what must be his representatives, friends or agents, presumably be-
cause she has to allow them to find and identify the tablets he asks for, since she
could not read them. He asks her and a certain Alaku in AKT 3, 84:4-23, “Look
(plural) for the tablet in which I certified (the testimony of) my witnesses A. and
E. in the gate of the god, which is placed in the container with the tablets of the
gate of the god. Take it out of it, pack it, solidly, in leather, seal it and entrust it to
H. or S. to bring it to me”. In AKT 3, 82:4-13 he asks her and her husband’s repre-
sentatives: “In the hušālu-container
42
a memorandum without envelope, listing
the witnesses on behalf of P., has been deposited among the tablets. Inspect it
and if the witnesses in question are staying there, lead them down to the gate of
the god and validate the tablet with their testimony and inform me about it.” In
AKT 3, 106:11-13 she is asked to send him immediately “the boxes with valid re-
cords that A. left behind for you”.
These letters and many other texts show the existence of various containers,
the most frequent one called tamalakkum/tamalākum, a word only attested in OA,
whose meaning is unknown, perhaps a kind of wooden box, usually protected by
sealings.
43
Such a box can be identified by its position in the archive (“the upper t.”,
of a stack or on the shelve? Kt 93/k 69:18), by its size (we meet a small one with six
tablets and a big one with more than twenty tablets; cf. also AKT 3, 104:17), and by
its cover or encasing. Kt 93/k 69:18-27 (courtesy of C. Michel) states: “We opened
the upper tamalakku’s that were covered by (or: encased in) leather (ina maškim
harmū) and removed the tablet”
44
. But one also identifies boxes by their specific

42 Attested only in OA, also in Kt 91/k 446:18, which mentions the sealing of a hušālum.
43 See AKT 5 p. 174 and CAD T s.v. Other frequently mentioned containers used for tablets (and
other items) are ṣiliānum and huršiānum, both only attested in OA, exact meanings unknown,
see AKT 5, 175. BIN 4, 90:14-16 mentions “three t.’s with tablets put under seal in a ṣiliānum”,
and according to Kt k/k 53:12-15, a huršiānum is to be taken out of a t. Both t. and h. are also
used for transporting tablets. Note a ṣ. made of rushes (ša ašlātim) in Kt n/k 1460:26, which sug-
gests a basket-like container. Kt f/k 11:5-6 mentions “small ṣ.’s” containing sealed records, and
BIN 6, 218:5-6, 13 t.’s with tablets alongside a pouch (zurzum) with tablets. See for the rare
hušālum footnote 42.
44 Kt f/k 11:23 (courtesy of L. Umur) mentions a ṣiliānu-container with a leather cover/casing
(maškam harim), containing tablets.
57
the archives of old assyrian traders
contents and we meet “a t. with tablets with certified testimonies” (ša šibē), “t.’s with
memorandums”, “t.’s with valid records“, “a t. with copies” (ša mehrē, TTC 21:1f.),
“a t. with big tablets of the caravan(s)” (ša ṭuppē rabûtim ša harrānim, AKT 3, 77:7), “7
t.’s with tablets of agents (ša tamkārim, TPAK 1, 77:3), etc. Note also Kt 91/k 147:29-32,
“In all 12 tablets, placed in a t. with new tablets, not in envelopes”.
If tablets in an archive were stored and arranged in groups of various type,
in different containers, one would expect the excavations to have revealed their
material traces. This is true and in addition the archives have produced a large
number of inscribed, frequently sealed bullae, originally attached to packets or
containers with tablets, whose contents or nature they mention.
45
Most numer-
ous is the designation našpertum, “missive” (already mentioned above), followed
by the name of the person who had sent it or for whom it was meant. Some in-
scriptions start with the word “tablet(s)” followed by qualifications, such as “of
PN”, “of the debt of PN”; other mention “valid tablets” (in sealed envelopes) or
“quittances”. Fuller descriptions are: “copies of tablets by which I sent silver to
PN,” “my encased tablets, my duplicates and my memorandums,” “certified tab-
lets of my witnesses,” “tablets of the city,” “tablets of the testament of A.,” “tablets
of native Anatolians,” “testimony of A. and B.,” “tablet of the gate of the god con-
cerning A.,” and “memorandums of witnesses of the price of wool of A.” It would
be too much to describe this as a classification system, but it is clear that groups
of tablets, often files or tablets of similar type, were kept together, stored and
labeled so that they could be found more easily.
The excavator, Tahsin Özgüç, in several publications has described how he
found the tablets and the bullae. On the archive found in 1994 (in the house in
grid LXIV/LXV-130/131, now being published as AKT 6) he writes (Özgüç 2001,
370): «In the conflagration the thin partition wall between rooms nos. 5-6 fell
down to its foundations and the tablets kept in the two rooms were mixed up. An
archive of 947 tablets and unopened envelopes and pottery were found in these
two small rooms. They were evidently kept on wooden shelves against the walls
and the tablets found along the walls are those that fell off the shelves in the fire.
The tablets that had been packed in bags, in straw wrappings and sacks were dis-
covered in piles in the middle of the rooms. A group of tablets, as usual, were kept
in pots. The pottery was set along the base of the walls». On the archive excavated
in 1991/2 (in the house in grid LVI-LVII/128-129, the archive of Elamma, which
I am publishing) he wrote: «The archive of the merchant was found along the
base of the east wall of room 3 and in rooms 4-5 in groups once packed in boxes,
bags, sacks and straw mats. On top of each group lay one or two bullae. Unopened
envelopes were placed at the bottom, tablets on top. In contrast to other archives

45 The inscribed bullae were edited by O. Tunca, Inscriptions on the Bullae, in: Özgüç-Tunca
2001, 319-50.
58
here we did not find tablets stored in jars».
46
Elsewhere he mentions the discov-
ery in a room of «two groups of 50 unopened envelopes, lying side by side» and
observes that the shape of a rectangular pile of tablets and fragments of carbon-
ized wood suggests that they were kept in some kind of wooden box.
Unfortunately, these observations are rather general, with few photos of the
tablets in situ (but see Özgüç 2003, 71-5, ills. 13-18) and the ground plans of the
houses do not show the exact positions of the hoard of tablets. Moreover, we al-
most never learn the excavation numbers of the tablets found in such groups or
in jars, so that it is impossible to identify them. The bullae attached to or belong-
ing to containers or packets with tablets in most cases were numbered and pub-
lished separately, so that it is extremely difficult to establish – in the few cases
when the archive in question is published – to which groups of tablets or packet
they belonged. It is regrettable that the unique opportunity to discover more
about archival classification and storage is lost, also due to the absence of an epig-
raphist at the dig where every year so many written documents were found.
One would expect that tablets in current use were stored on the shelves along
the walls (on which the tamalakku-containers could have been placed) or on bench-
es covered with reed mats, perhaps in open bowls, to be easily accessible. Since
retrieving and selecting tablets stored in jars is rather difficult, jars may have con-
tained older tablets, preserved but rarely used, but we cannot prove it. The excava-
tor has suggested for the archive excavated in 1990, in the ‘Avant-propos’ (p. 8) of
TPAK 1, that the position in which tablets were found in the ruined archival room
might indicate that some groups were kept on a second floor. One part, whose ex-
cavation numbers he mentions, was found on the floor, the rest mixed with the de-
bris that filled the room. But the distinction is not very convincing, for I have found
that the envelope of text 10 was found in the debris, but the tablet it contained on
the floor. That certain groups of tablets were kept on a second floor, where the liv-
ing quarters were, is not impossible, but would be surprising, since the strong
room on the ground floor, closed with a heavy, sealed door was better and safer.
These last observations show that there are still many questions, but the po-
tential of the material is huge. Because the textual data are so rich and diversified
and their philological analysis already yields important insights, a good correla-
tion between epigraphic and archeological data will yield more. Moreover, publi-
cation of the many still unpublished archives (with more than 12.000 texts) will
help to solve some of the remaining epigraphic and lexical problems, including
the precise nature of the various containers. This will throw more light on the
customs of the remarkable Old Assyrian traders, energetic and creative business-
men and at the same time industrious writers of records and careful keepers and
users of their archives.

46 T. Özgüç, A Boat-shaped Cult-vessel from the Karum of Kanish, in: H. Gasche et al. (eds.), Cin-
quante-deux réflexions sur le Proche-Orient ancien offertes en hommage à Léon De Meyer, Leuven 1994,
369-76.
59
the archives of old assyrian traders
Abbreviations
Abbreviated titles of text editions and assyriological journals are those used in
the CAD. But note:
AKT 3 Bilgiç, E. & Günbatti, C., Ankaraner Kultepe-Texte III: Texte der
Grabungskampagne 1970. FAOS Beiheft 5, Stuttgart 1995.
AKT 4 Albayrak, I., Kültepe Tabletleri IV (Kt. o/k), TTKY VI/33b, Ankara
2006.
AKT 5 Veenhof, K. R., The Archive of Kuliya, son of Ali-abum (Kt. 92/k 188-
263), Kültepe Tabletleri V, TTKY VI/33c, Ankara 2010.
AKT 6a Larsen, M. T., The Archive of the Šalim-Aššur Family. Vol. 1. The First
Two Generations. Kültepe Tabletleri VIa, TTKY VI/33d-a, Ankara
2010.
CAD The Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of
Chicago. Chicago, 1956ff.
CTMMA Larsen, M. T., Old Assyrian Texts, in: I. Starr (ed.), Cuneiform Texts
in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Vol. 1. Tablets, Cones and Bricks of
the Third and Second Millennia. New York 1998, 92-142, nos. 71-98.
EL Eisser, G. & Lewy, j., Altassyrische Rechtsurkunden vom Kültepe, I-II.
MVAeG 33, 35/3, Leipzig 1930-1935. Quoted by text number.
Kt a .../k Sigla of texts from Kültepe (Kt) found in kārum Kanesh (/k) from
1948 (=a) until 1972 (=z).
Kt 73 .../k Sigla of texts from Kültepe found in kārum Kanesh since 1973.
OAA(S) Old Assyrian Archives (Studies), Leiden 2002ff.
POAT Gwaltney, W.C., The Pennsylvania Old Assyrian Texts, Hebrew
Union College Supplements, 3, Cincinnati 1983.
Prag I + no.
Texts edited in K. Hecker – G. Kryszat – L. Matou⇧,
Kappadokische Keilschrifttafeln aus den Sammlungen der
Karlsuniversität Prag, Praha 1988.
TPAK 1 Michel, C. & Garelli, P., Tablettes paléo-assyriennes de Kültepe, 1
(Kt 90/k). Paris 1990.
60
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for Old Assyrian Legislation,
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70/4, 1717-45.
Veenhof 1997
Veenhof, K. R., “Modern” Features
in Old Assyrian Trade, «Journal of
the Economic and Social History
of the Orient» 40, 336-66.
Veenhof 2001
Veenhof, K. R., The Old Assyrian
Period, in: R. Westbrook-R.
Jasnow (eds.), Security for Debt in
Ancient Near Eastern Law. Culture
and History of the Ancient
Near East vol. 9, Leiden/Boston,
93-159.
Veenhof 2003
Veenhof, K. R., Archives of Old
Assyrian Traders, in: M. Brosius
(ed.), Ancient Archives and Archival
Traditions. Concept of Record-
Keeping in the Ancient World,
Oxford, 78-123.
Veenhof 2008a
Veenhof, K. R., The Old Assyrian
Period, in: M. Wäffler (ed.),
Mesopotamia. The Old Assyrian
Period. Annäherungen 5, Orbis
Biblicus et Orientalis 160/5,
Fribourg/Göttingen, Teil 1,
13-264.
Veenhof 2008b
Veenhof, K. R., The Death and
Burial of Ishtar-lamassi in Karum
Kanish, in: R. J. van der Spek
(ed.), Studies in Near Eastern
World View and Society Presented
to Marten Stol on the Occasion
of his 65
th
Birthday, Bethesda,
97-120.
Veenhof 2008c
Veenhof, K. R., Communication
in the Old Assyrian Trading Society
by Caravans, Travelers and
Messengers, in: C. Michel (ed.),
Old Assyrian Studies in Memory
of Paul Garelli, OAAS 4, Leiden,
199-246.
Veenhof 2009
Veenhof, K. R., A New Volume
of Old Assyrian Texts from Kārum
Kanesh, «Jaarbericht Ex Oriente
Lux» 41, 179-202.
63
family archives in mesopotamia…
Family Archives in
Mesopotamia during the
Old Babylonian Period
1
The leadership exerted by the kingdom of Babylon under the rule of kings Ham-
mu-rabi and Samsu-iluna, especially between 1764 and 1712 B.C., led scholars to
call Old Babylonian the period spanning from the 20
th
to the 17
th
century. Except-
ed this short period, the whole four centuries are however rather characterized
by a political parcelling out and Mesopotamia was most of the time divided into
several kingdoms dominating larger or smaller areas (Isin, Larsa, Ešnunna, Mari,
Ekallatum, Babylon, etc.).
2
The unity of this period has to be looked for on a cul-
tural level. Semitic populations called Amorites had settled in the whole Meso-
potamian plain as early as the end of the 3
rd
millennium.
3
During the first cen-

1 This study was written within the framework of the project “Archibab: Archives babyloni-
ennes (XX
e
-XVII
e
siècles)” directed by Dominique Charpin and supported by the Agence Natio-
nale de la Recherche. D. Charpin read the present manuscript carefully and addressed me valuable
remarks. I also benefitted from very fruitful discussions with S. Démare-Lafont. Unpublished
texts from the Nies Babylonian Collection (NBC) are quoted here with the kind permission of
B. R. Foster, Laffan Professor of Assyriology and curator of the Yale Babylonian Collection. It is
my pleasant duty to thank all of them sincerely.
2 See in general Charpin 2004.
3 The early diffusion of Amorite traditions through Mesopotamia has been pointed out by
specialists; see Sallaberger 2007, and, for another point of view, Michalowski 2011, especially
Chapter 5: “The Amorites in Ur III Times”, p. 82-121.
antoine jacquet
64
turies of the 2
nd
millennium, they formed a real koinè characterized by common
references and practices in many domains such as religion and cults or social
and political organization.
4
One of these common practices definitely was the
use of writing in a lot of activities and situations of everyday life, maybe after the
model constituted for a long time by some great bodies present in every part of
every kingdom (palace and temple administrations) and certainly related to the
development of new institutions.
The documentation of the Amorite period is actually characterized by a huge
increase of archival texts, in number as much as in variety.
5
By studying political
structures of ancient Mesopotamia, we are rapidly led to admit that we never
have to deal with States or Cities ruled by formal constitutions comparable to
Greek Cities. We often have to deal, on the contrary, with individuals and groups
of people organized according to different coexisting local or tribal traditions,
kingship being only one figure of authority among others.
6
The question of the
relations between archival and institutional practices can hardly find an answer
as for the Amorite period. However the obvious importance of writing implies a
very profitable reflection on the use of producing, keeping, gathering and trans-
mitting written records regarding authority.
After a general presentation of the Old Babylonian archival documentation,
this paper will come to the interesting problem of the function and motivation
of family archives and archival documents. This will be an occasion to present
some unpublished examples from the archives of Marduk-muballiṭ, resident of
the city of Lagaba, now essentially kept in the Yale Babylonian Collection.
1. An Inventory of Old Babylonian Archives
In this general presentation, the reader will be provided at first with some quan-
titative data about archival documents, then with some elements about who pos-
sessed archives in the Mesopotamia of the beginning of the 2
nd
millennium and
finally with a tentative typology of archival documents and the question of utility
of such an enterprise.
The ARCHIBAB project is directed by Prof. Dominique Charpin and supported
by the French Agence Nationale de la Recherche. Its purpose is to gather every Old
Babylonian archival document presently published into a digital data base which

4 The idea of a widespread Amorite culture in Mesopotamia during the first centuries of the
2
nd
millennium was first brilliantly developed in Durand 1992. For political matters, see Char-
pin 2004, especially Chapter 8, “La vie politique au Proche-Orient vers 1765”, p. 232-316.
5 See in general Charpin 2008a, “Chapitre 3: Les documents d’archives”, p. 97-129 (English
version: Charpin 2010, “Chapter two: The Archival Documents”, p. 68-114).
6 See Durand 2004; Charpin 2007.
65
family archives in mesopotamia…
can be freely browsed online.
7
We first had to count precisely how many texts we
had to deal with, whose number eventually appeared to be much underestimat-
ed: there are 32092 archival documents currently published.
8
Among them, only
19585 texts have a well established origin thanks to regular excavations which
provide us with, at least, the name of the modern site and, when it is known,
the name of the ancient city, or, at most, a precise locus, a building and a room,
a detailed archaeological context. These documents come from about 40 sites all
over Mesopotamia, from the Mediterranean coastal area to the West to Iran to
the East and from the Taurus to the North to the Gulf and Arabic Desert to the
South. This undoubtedly represents a unique documentary situation regarding
the whole Mesopotamian Ancient History.
Table 1:
Distribution of published archival documents throughout Old Babylonian Mesopotamia
9
1. Southern Babylonia 1.1 Ur (tell Muqqayair) 1250
1. 2 Uruk (Warka) 793
1.3 Larsa (tell Senkereh) 972
1.4 Lagaš (al Hibar) and Girsu (Tello) 27
1.5 Kutalla (tell Sifr) 106
Total: 3148
2. Central Babylonia 2.1 Nippur (Nuffar) 1172
2. 2 Isin (Išān Baḥrīyat) 1040
2.3 Kisurra (Abu Hatab) 477
2.4 Adab (Bismaya) 57
Total: 2746
3. Northern Babylonia 3.1 Babylon 113
3. 2 Sippar Yahrurum (Abu Habbah) 246
3.3 Sippar Amnânum (Tell ed-Dêr) 445
Total: 804

7 For a general presentation of the project, see the PDF document “Présentation ARCHIBAB”
to be downloaded at <http://www.archibab.fr/Accueil.htm>, which gives two more references
to presentations by D. Charpin also downloadable at http://www.digitorient.com.
8 Data provided by the Archibab data-base (2012/5/7).
9 Table first drawn by D. Charpin (see Charpin in press a) with updated data according to the
Archibab data-base (2012/5/7).
66
4. Diyala Basin 4.1 Ešnunna (Tell Asmar) 61
4. 2 Nêrebtum (Ischali) 133
4.3 Tutub (Khafajah) 111
4.4 Šaduppum (tell Harmal) 194
4.5 Uzarlulu (Dhib‘ai) 5
4.6 Tulul Khattab 37
4.7 Mê-Turan (Tell Ḥaddad and Tell es-Sib) 170
4.8 Tell Yelkhi? 28
Total: 739
5. Susa and Elam 5.1 Susa (Shush) 950
Total: 950
6. Middle Euphrates 6.1 Yabliya-al-kapim (tell Shishin) 8
6. 2 Harrâdum (Khirbet ed-Diniye) 116
6.3 Mari (tell Hariri) 8813
6.4 Terqa (tell Ashara) 106
6.5 Tuttul (tell Bi‘a) 377
Total: 9420
7. Northern Mesopotamia 7.1 Ninive 3
7. 2 Šušarra (Shemshāra) 243
7.3 Nuzi (Yorghan Tepe) 1(?)
7.4 Qaṭṭarâ (tell Rimah) 342
7.5 Zamiyatum(?) (tell Taya) 2
7.6 Razamâ of Yussân(?) (tell Hawa) 1(?)
7.7 Šehnâ / Šubat-Enlil (tell Leilan) 559
7.8 Ašnakkum (Chagar Bazar) 351
7.9 Ṭabatum (tell Tabān) 1
Total: 1503
8. Western Syria 8.1 Alalah (tell Atchana) 278
8. 2 Ebla (tell Mardikh) 2
Total: 270
9. Palestine 9.1 Haṣor 4
9. 2 Hebron 1
Total: 5
67
family archives in mesopotamia…
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e
s

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d

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68
As for the 12507 remaining documents, they unfortunately come from irregu-
lar or ancient and non-scientific excavations in which diggers did not take pain
to record the place where they discovered the tablets. The combined action of
the looter and of the antique dealer caused not only to separate irremediably the
documents from their archaeological context, but also to dismantle the archives
which are then scattered all over the world in different public or private collec-
tions. Scholars often deal with isolated texts and first have to reconstruct the ar-
chives to which they belong. Computer-aided analysis is fortunately now very
helpful and the precise origin of the tablets can often be deduced by crossing dif-
ferent pieces of internal evidence such as philological or epigraphical details, the
typological or thematical situation of the document, chronological, topological
or prosopographical data, etc.
10
2. Who Possessed Archives in the Old Babylonian Mesopotamian Society?
The question of literacy is one of the great issues of recent historiography about
the Ancient Near East. The idea that reading and writing were not only a matter
of specialists or professional scribes but an ability shared by a rather large part
of the elite, at least from the beginning of the 2
nd
millennium on, now seems to
be broadly accepted.
11
But archive keeping is another matter: on the one hand,
obviously not everyone who wrote personally kept documents and, on the other
hand, not everyone who kept personal archives at home did necessarily read and
write cuneiform Akkadian: the production of archive documents and their con-
servation aimed at particular goals.
2.1. Great Organisms and Private Houses
Archaeologists like to distinguish among their discoveries between palaces and
temples, which have an aura of prestige, and simple houses, supposed to be less
noble subjects of study; in the same way, epigraphists are used to oppose official

10 This is the category in which we are unfortunately forced to sort the texts supposedly com-
ing from Damrum (68 documents), Dur-Abi-Ešuh (89), Marad (3), Dilbat (73), Maškan-Šapir (1),
Sippar (1835 documents, without any indication of the very place of finding), Kiš (177), Ṣupur-
Šubula (44), Tigunanum (2); some documents are assumed to come from an area, without be-
ing linked to a city: so are the 453 texts coming from “the vicinity of Nerebtum”, in the Diyala
Valley, or those from “the vicinity of Nusaybin”. These data must be taken as a coarse evaluation
of the documentary situation and are supposed to be refined progressively as the Archibab data-
base catalogue will get completed.
11 See Charpin 2008a, especially “Chapitre 1: Une affaire de spécialistes?”, p. 31-60, quoting
Vanstiphout 1995, p. 2188, and Postgate 1992, and developing his own argumentation; Eng-
lish version now published as “Reading and Writing in Mesopotamia: The Business of Special-
ists?” in Charpin 2011, p. 7-24.
69
family archives in mesopotamia…
archives, the ones produced and kept by great organisms (palaces and temples)
on the one hand and so called “private archives” on the other hand, with often
the same distinction in terms of prestige.
12
As a matter of fact archives of great
organisms are the mere consequence of the attention to economic bookkeeping.
They appeared early during the 3
rd
millennium and kept on existing until the end
of Mesopotamian Antiquity. They are no “State archives” but only the accumula-
tion of personal and administrative archives: the archives of the King, especially
his correspondence, are kept together with the records produced by the differ-
ent administrative services of the Palace. The latter, private archives, increased in
number during the OB period, although they already existed during the 3
rd
mil-
lennium. They range from small groups of tablets to huge collections of records
of a finally larger typological richness than archives of great organisms.
13
In the
following pages, attention will be especially paid to these private archives.
2.2. The mark of the elites
We have to consider that accumulation and transmission of archival documents
is generally a fact of members of the social and economic elite, private entrepre-
neurs or servants of the palace, merchants, farmers, priests, etc. These people
owned houses and lands, slaves, silver or grain that they could lend at interest,
and every kind of precious things. This also explains why the distinction be-
tween official and private archives is not as significant as this modern terminol-
ogy might suggest.
14
The very reason for the existence of archival documents is
the existence of valuable goods that could be owned, acquired, sold, shared or
claimed before a jurisdiction. The redaction of these documents is the result of
acts that transfer or confirm authority on a good or a person.
2.3. Archives of men, archives of women?
The use of written records is not only the fact of men but also of some women,
either singles or widows or even married ones managing their goods without
needing any man’s consent.
15
Some special categories of women such as conse-

12 Official excavations actually often concentrated particularly on palaces and temples, as in
the great sites of Nineve, Mari, or Ebla, and left apart whole districts of private houses and the
private archives they must have contained.
13 For an example of the intense activity of scribes in some families, see Tanret 2004.
14 See Veenhof 1986, p. 9-11.
15 On women in Ancient Near East, see in general the papers read at the 33
rd
Rencontre As-
syriologique Internationale (Durand 1987); sex and gender were at stake at the 47
th
Rencontre (see
Parpola & Whiting 2002); see also Briquel-Chatonnet et al. 2009, especially the third part
of the book “Femmes lettrées, archives de femmes dans le Proche-Orient ancien”, p. 215-332. A
good presentation of the Old Babylonian problematics is in Barberon 2003.
70
crated women called nadîtum, who were vowed to the male deity of their city
or of a renowned sanctuary of the kingdom (at first, the temple of the Sun God,
Šamaš, in Sippar) were also free from any man’s control and could write, use and
keep archival documents:
16
these women received precious dowries and were
in some cases even elevated to the status of heir. They were able to buy some
real estate properties. They could lend silver. They were exposed to every kind
of litigation. Then, they used written records just like the men of their family
and neighborhood did. They had their own seal, which was extremely rare as
for women. However, the existence of archives of women is discussed. Contrary
to what was thought formerly, we are now aware that the main part of archival
documents concerning the goods of nadîtum-women of Šamaš living in Sippar
were not found in their own houses, in the cloister of Abu Habbah, but in vari-
ous houses in tell Abu Habbah and the neighboring tell ed-Dêr. The archives of
nadîtum actually were a part of the archives of their family, kept in the house of
the family chief (the father, a brother or uncle).
3. A Typology of Archival Documents and their Function
Regarding Authority
Scholars often distinguish three types of archival documents: letters, legal doc-
uments and administrative documents (which are rather to be considered as
bookkeeping documents, because they are not necessarily produced by an ad-
ministration in the modern sense of that word). This typology used to be a guide
for the publication of texts. As a result, students often have to look for documents
belonging to one same archive and kept in one museum but published in differ-
ent volumes because letters, legal and administrative documents were published
separately.
17
Although this typology is helpful to understand the sense of each
text taken apart, it is an obstacle to the understanding of the meaning of the ar-
chives themselves, where documents of different nature were kept together in a
same file because they only made sense (and can be now understood) together.
This is the direction that scholars have to follow now, trying to reconstruct the

16 See Barberon 2009.
17 A large number of projects used to exist in the first half of the 20
th
century but are no longer
living projects: see for example M. Schorr, Urkunden des Altbabylonischen Zivil- und Prozessrechts,
VAB 5, Leipzig, 1913 or A. Ungnad, Babylonische Briefe aus der Zeit der Ḫammurapi-Dynastie, VAB 6,
Leipzig, 1914, both aiming at publishing the entire corpus of legal documents (VAB 5) and let-
ters (VAB 6) then known; cf. also the 6 volumes of the Hammurabis Gesetz series (Leipzig, 1904-
1923), devoted to Old Babylonian legal documents. The Altbabylonische Briefe series founded by
F. R. Kraus at the University of Leyden in 1964 now comprises 14 volumes providing editions
of Old Babylonian letters; each volume is devoted to one collection or museum so that archives
are dismantled and the lack of indexes prevents scholars from searching all letters sent by or to
somebody.
71
family archives in mesopotamia…
original files and asking for each and every text why it was written, why it was
kept, why in this archive, by this person, a.s.o.
18
For this reason another typology may be more helpful, according to the sta-
tus of the document whithin the archive where it was kept; two main categories
have to be distinguished: first, documents that normally had a limited validity
in time, and which should have been destroyed or at least discarded when they
were no longer valid; second, documents with unlimited validity, which were
supposed to be kept forever and came to constitute what is to be called family
archives.
19
I will add a third type to this distinction: archives containing a lot of
texts written and kept only as aids to keep archives in order, by summing up the
content of texts that are present in the tablet room, or gathered in a tablet box or,
on the contrary, absent from the archives because they were momentarily useful
out of the file they belonged to
20
.
When we are lucky enough to deal with private archives found during regular
and scientific excavations, we can almost always note that the final point of the
accumulation of documents coincides with the abandonment of the house by the
family, after a catastrophe such as the destruction of the house by fire or by invad-
ers. Putting the whole archive in order, it is possible to note that the typology
of texts is much more varied for the last generation than for the previous ones,
which can be explained by the fact that a sort was regularly operated within the
archive and discarded documents were destroyed or put aside.
21
3.1. Documents of Limited Validity Establishing Responsibility
Documents that we are used to distinguish as administrative documents, legal
documents or letters in our modern terminology were actually all preserved by
the ancient Mesopotamians in their archives for the same reason: because they
established and kept a trace of an individual responsibility before an authority.
As will be seen below, limits separating types of texts are tight and we should
rather distinguish, as the Ancients did, between documents without sealing and
sealed documents. Ancient Mesopotamians indeed called documents by the ge-
neric name ṭuppum “tablet”, or kanîkum “sealed document” when the cylindar seal
of the person whose responsibility was engaged was unrolled on it. For practical


18 For a good example of this approach, see Charpin 2000a, p. 77-78, dealing with a family
archive of the Old Babylonian city of Isin: two brothers opposed each other in a trial. The final
text, that was produced at the end of the case, can only be understood in the light of their exile,
which is only shown by the rest of the archive.
19 See Charpin in press a.
20 See Tanret 2008.
21 See in general the papers of the round table “Les phénomènes de fin d’archives en Mésopo-
tamie” edited by F. Joannès in the «Revue d’Assyriologie» 89 (1995), p. 1-147.
72
reasons, three types of documents of limited validity will be described in what
follows: bookkeeping documents, legal documents and letters.
Bookkeeping archives are usually considered as a useful tool to control and
anticipate economic activities or to manage a material or human resource.
22
They
are also a way of controlling individuals who work in any administrative service
and have to justify before their superiors the management of the resource that
they are responsible for. For example, a quittance, which can be used as a book-
keeping record by the one who is responsible for the disbursement, also serves
as legal text as it is sealed by the recipient and can be presented as proof for a
payment before an administrative hierarchy or a jurisdiction. This is true in large
administrative services such as the palace of Mari, as it is in private houses where
an intendant is supposed to manage goods (silver, barley, dates, etc) for the bene-
fit of his master. The utility of bookkeeping texts rarely lasted more than one
year and often expired after the annual submitting of accounts and tax collect-
ing, usually fixed at harvest time or at the time of a religious festival; the text was
normally erased and the tablet regularly recycled by the office that produced it.
23

In administrative services of the Palace of Mari for instance, some offices used
to discard daily records as soon as their content was written on a recapitulatory
tablet, unless they are sealed documents, supposed to be kept as legal or admin-
istrative proof of a payment: in that case, they used to mark them with a red ink
line, so that they are not counted twice but not recycled either.
24

Short term contracts often contained the mention of their own expiry (loan
contracts, hiring contracts, leasing contracts, etc.). They are by nature part of this
first category of documents of limited validity. They were thus regularly taken
out of the archives and either destroyed, when their validity had expired, or can-
celled and marked with a cross scratched on the surface, when the dispositions
changed whereas the expiry had not passed.
25
The utility of letters, finally, normally expired as soon as the message was
delivered and most of them must have been rapidly destroyed or recycled after
their reception. According to their content however, they could have been kept as
memories of an act of communication. As the envelope was printed with the seal
of the sender, a letter could be used as legal proof of a declaration of the sender or
for an order given to the recipient: for example, a letter in which the master of a
house orders his intendant to pay silver to a creditor will be kept by the intendant
as evidence to justify an expense when he shall present his accounts. There even

22 Wilcke 1970, p. 166 and, on the Mari archives especially, Ziegler 2001.
23 Some of these tablets, discarded as superfluous, however survived as “dead archives”, in sec-
ondary contexts when they were used to fill benches or floors, such as in the well known Room
116 of the palace of Mari.
24 Charpin 1984, p. 258-259.
25 That was commented by Veenhof 1995, p. 320; three examples now in Archibab: BDHP 30,
YOS 13 354, CBS 1153 [Stol Mél. Renger 1].
73
family archives in mesopotamia…
exist some letters containing this advice by the sender to the recipient: “Keep
this letter of mine as a testimony of my words”.
26
The very reason to write and keep archival documents resides in the necessity
for everyone to be in possession of every title establishing one’s rights or pro-
tecting oneself against a possible future claim. In every case, such a document is
written in favour of the one whose rights might be contested, and kept by him.
It is sealed by the one who abandons his right or whose responsibility might be
engaged before an authority, should it be a jurisdiction or an administration. The
writing of the tablet is not of much value in itself. The document has to be sealed
to be valid before an administrative or legal authority. A document sealed in due
form cannot be contested before a court.
27
Everyone who contracts and commits
oneself to do or not to do something had to unroll one’s seal on a written docu-
ment which was kept as a proof by the beneficiary of this commitment. In loan
contracts, for example, as long as the responsibility of a debtor is involved, the
creditor keeps the document as written evidence that could be produced before a
court as an argument supporting a claim. Each time that the responsibility of the
debtor is modified, a new sealed document is written in his favor. As soon as the
responsibility is completely removed, the original sealed document is broken so
that it cannot be produced anymore before any jurisdiction.
28
These principles
help understand a lot of very allusive, albeit interesting, short notes that com-
pose the major part of the Old Babylonian archival documentation.
The following examples are taken out of the unpublished archives of Marduk-
naṣir, resident of Lagaba. NBC 8831 is a receipt of silver without any apparent
interest; it reads:
29

26 See the list of references established by Veenhof 1986, p. 33 n. 125, now to be completed
with Charpin in press b, especially p. 52-54.
27 In the letter AbB 3 82, Ibbi-Sumuqan tries to dissuade Yahgunum from claiming a field that
he had sold three years before, using the following argument: “he (= the actual owner of the
field) brought me a tablet according to which he purchased the field from you. I saw it and it is
without any ambiguity: your seal and (the name of) 5 witnesses are written on it. If he shows
this tablet to judges, could they transgress the law in your favor?”. French translation and com-
mentary in Charpin 2000a, p. 77. On the attention paid to the legal status of a text, and the rich-
ness of related vocabulary, whether a tablet is sealed or not sealed, whether it comprises a date
or not, etc., see Charpin 2008b, p. 9 sq.
28 For that reason, we always have to wonder why a text was conserved, and thus discovered:
every loan contract that has come to us corresponds to a debt that actually was not reimbursed,
either because a catastrophe put an end to the activities of the creditor (and sometimes to the
archive itself), or because a general remission was proclamed by the king. It is now clearly at-
tested that kings of the Old Babylonian period could choose to cancel every debt in the country
by proclaming an edict of justice (mîšarum) every time that the kingdom was confronted to a
major economic crisis, and especially during the first year of their reign; in the latter case, loan
contracts often were conserved by the creditor, even though the debts had been remitted and
the tablet had no validity anymore; see Charpin 2000b.
29 NBC 8831: 1/2 GÍN KÙ. BABBAR, ŠU. TI. A ú-túl-(d)da-gan, KI (d)AMAR.UTU-mu-ba-lí-iṭ, ITI
APIN. DU. A U 10. KAM, MU GU. ZA NISAG܉. A.
74
“1/2 shekel of silver: receipt of Utul-Dagan, from Marduk-muballiṭ. 10/viii/Samsu-
iluna 5.”
This text should have been sealed by the recipient, Utul-Dagan, as receipts usu-
ally are, but it is not. This receipt was certainly not kept by Marduk-muballiṭ for
bookkeeping purposes only. Other documents in the archive, especially receipts
of barley or wool, allow to imagine that this text actually records the partial reim-
bursement of a debt by Marduk-muballiṭ to his creditor, Utul-Dagan. The origi-
nal contract, normally kept by the creditor, was not broken since the debt was not
completely reimbursed. This is why it is important for Marduk-muballiṭ to keep
this receipt safely as written evidence of his partial reimbursement of the silver,
which could be presented before a court in case of a claim over that silver.
A slightly different case can be imagined according to NBC 8908, which sim-
ply records a quantity of flour, written here without any key-word. In spite of the
lack of explicit elements of description, this six-line record is extremely helpful
to understand who is supposed to keep a document in his archives and for what
purpose. The text reads:
30
“40 liters of flour. (If) the sealed document (kanîkum) of Marduk-muballiṭ (re)appears,
it will be broken. 1+/vii/Samsu-iluna 7.”
The seal of one Gimil-Gula is unrolled on the tablet.
31
This is certainly the sign that
this record is a receipt and Gimil-Gula is the recipient, although his name is not
written in the text and neither the verb “to receive” (akkadian mahârum) nor the
noun “receipt” (akkadian namhartum or sumerian ŠU. TI. A) frequently used in the
standard phraseology of Old Babylonian receipts are written. The short sentence l.
2-4, although very laconic, allows us to understand why this document was written,
sealed by Gimil-Gula and kept by Marduk-muballiṭ: the flour was owed to Gimil-
Gula by Marduk-muballiṭ, which was recorded in an original loan contract, desig-
nated here by the expression kanîk Marduk-muballiṭ, literally “Marduk-muballiṭ’s
sealed document”, to be understood as “the document sealed by Marduk-muballiṭ
(and kept by Gimil-Gula)”. When Gimil-Gula came to recover his loan, he could not
find the original loan contract, sealed by Marduk-muballiṭ, which he must have
kept in his own archives as evidence of the loan. Marduk-muballiṭ accepted to re-
imburse him, certainly because they knew each other very well and were used to
have business together.
32
In a normal procedure of reimbursement of a debt, the
original loan contract should have been broken and no more text written. In this

30 NBC 8908 (Lagaba, 1+vii/Si 7): 0,0.4 ZÌ. DA, ka-ni-ik (d)AMAR.UTU-mu-ba-lí-iṭ, i-il-li-a-am,
ih-he-ep-pi°, ݯITI DUݰ.[KÙ] ݯU 1+xݰ. KAM, MU (giš)TUKUL ŠU. NIR.
31 Gimil-Gula, son of Šumum-libši, servant of Amurrum and Ninsianna gi-mil-ݯ(d)ݰGU. L[A]
/ ݯDUMU šuݰ-mu-um-ݯliݰ-ib-š[i] / ÌR (d)MAR. T[U] / ù (d)NIN. SI.ݯAN. NAݰ.
32 This Gimil-Gula is well known in other documents as a relative of Marduk-muballiṭ, the
owner of the archive.
75
family archives in mesopotamia…
special case, the present receipt was written in favor of Marduk-muballiṭ and kept
by him in his archives as evidence that he did reimburse the flour and that the
original contract has been discarded even though the tablet could not be broken
33
.
3.2. Documents of Unlimited Validity and the Constitution of the Family Archives
A second type of archival documents is composed of texts that have an unlim-
ited validity. In this category can be classified legal documents establishing the
status of goods and persons, such as titles of property, purchase or exchange con-
tracts, donations, dowries, marriage contracts, adoptions, inheritance contracts
describing parts of inheritance that were shared between heirs, etc.
This category is hardly represented in the archives of great organisms, palace
or temples, as if they did not have to justify their ownership, whereas they are a
large part of the archival documents found in private houses. The use of written
records of such legal acts seems to have largely increased during the Old Babylo-
nian period, which may be related to the emergence of a professional justice in
Mesopotamia during the Old Babylonian period, and maybe because, for the first
time, it was felt necessary to make up for the mortality of the witnesses or loss of
individual or collective memory, especially in legal procedures.
34

It is now clearly established that written titles of property were supposed to
follow the goods every time they were sold, exchanged or shared. The texts were
transmitted by the former owner to the new one along with the goods them-
selves and were accumulated to form family archives.
35
And then, the history of
a private property can often be reconstructed on a large span of time, sometimes
on about six generations and more than 200 years, as is the case with the amaz-
ing Ur-Utu archive. The archives of this religious dignitary of the city of Sippar-
Amnânum (tell ed-Der), north of Babylon, were discovered during regular exca-
vations by the Belgian team led by L. De Meyer. They had been abandonned there
by the last inhabitant of the house after a violent fire during which he obviously
tried to rescue them from destruction. Studying this wonderful archive (com-
posed of almost 2000 texts), M. Tanret and C. Janssen were able to highlight what
they called the “chains of transmission” of the property documents.
36

33 This practice has been pointed out for a long time as for purchase contracts of land or
houses ; see Charpin 1996. What is interesting here is that this procedure is about a very cheap
object (40 liters of flour), which is proof for a wide generalization of the use of writing in legal
matters in the late Old Babylonian period.
34 See in general Charpin 2008a, “Chapitre 4: Le geste, la parole et l’écrit dans la vie juridique”,
p. 131-158 (English version: Charpin 2011, “Chapter 3. Old Babylonian Law: Gesture, Speech, and
Writing”, p. 43-52; see below for further developments and examples.
35 See especially Chapin 1986 (updated English version in Charpin 2010b, “Chapter 4. The
Transfer of Property Deeds and the Constitution of Family Archives”, p. 53-69) as a starting
point to a long series of studies.
36 The idea was elaborated and developped by the Belgian team of Ghent in charge of the
76
At the sale of a real estate property, the seller was supposed to give to the buy-
er every document justifying his ownership of the property, i.e. every former title
of ownership. Generation after generation, because of the possibility for fields or
houses to be gathered or shared, put into pieces or sold as a whole, the property
documents accumulated in files called ṭuppi ummatim u ṭuppât šurdê (“the mother
tablet and the following tablets”). Following the chains of transmission, it is then
possible to go up to the original transaction that caused the property to be, for
the first time, as it is sold in the present time, whether it was formed by gather-
ing some different plots of land or one field was divided into different plots.
37

The “mother tablet” records the original acquisition of the good as it exists and
the “following tablets” record each intermediary transaction between that first
acquisition and the present time. Sometimes, one of these tablets is missing and
the seller is asked to write a certificate establishing his own responsibility in case
of a claim against the buyer about this missing document.
The importance attached to the keeping and transmitting of these titles of
property is a sign of how written evidence became important in trials about a
property.
38
Complementarity of oral and written evidence is obvious in a lot of
trial records. As a matter of fact, Akkadian language uses the same words to de-
scribe the one and the other and speaks of “the testimony” of a tablet (šîbûtum); it
also speaks of the “mouth of the tablet” (pî ṭuppim) or of the “talking of the tablet”
(awât ṭuppim) to designate its content.
39
During the Old Babylonian period, oral
testimony only was no more felt sufficient as proof in a legal case and the collec-
tion of written elements was necessary. Judges can ask in the same case to hear
witnesses and to have tablets read, so that it was felt dodgy to go to trial without
any written evidence of one’s rights, as is shown by the lettre AbB 11 55:
40
a nadî-
tum of Šamaš called Narâmtani who lived in Sippar chose to postpone a litigation
about inheritance because she was not in possession of her tablets, which were
kept by a male member of her family, and she knew that she could not defend her
rights without being able to produce them:
Speak to Šamšiya: Thus says Narâmtani, daughter of Ipqatum. May my Lord and my
Mistress (= the gods Šamaš and Aya) keep you in good health for my sake! The inheri-
tance of my paternal uncle’s daughter has been taken, and she gave me her tablets; but

publication of the Ur-Utu archives: see especially Janssen 1992 ; Janssen, Gasche, Tanret 1994,
and Janssen 1996.
37 See Van Lerberghe & Voet 1991 for definitions of what Babylonians called ṭuppi ummatim
and ṭuppât šurdê, and the very clear schematical view of chains of transmission published in
Janssen 1996, p. 243, expecting the forthcoming M. Tanret, C. Janssen, L. Dekiere, Chains of
Transmission: a search through Ur-Utu’s property titles, MHEM 2, Ghent.
38 See Charpin 2008a, p. 145-151 (English version: Charpin 2011, p. 48-52), with bibliography.
39 Charpin 2008a, p. 148 (English: Charpin 2011, p. 50) and the forthcoming Charpin in press b.
40 AbB 11 55: translation by M. Stol, revised according to the French translation and commen-
tary in Charpin 2000a, p. 73-74.
77
family archives in mesopotamia…
as for Nûratum, who had taken her inheritance before me, who had acted against her,
whose expenses had been paid back, and who also had drawn up a tablet renouncing
(any further) claim, today the warkûm-official, interceding for him, is harassing me.
Aliyatum, her sister, released one-half mina of silver from the lap of my paternal
uncle’s daughter and I seized her, but, as I had nobody, she then escaped from me. So
thus I said (to myself): “My tablets are in the hand of my father. As long as my father
does not come here, I will not litigate”. Now, do not neglect me!
Another example of this new attention paid to written evidence is the case record
CT 47 63 dated to the 14
th
year of Samsu-iluna’s reign in favour of the nadîtum
Amat-Mamu: Amat-Mamu, nadîtum of Šamaš had been adopted by an older na-
dîtum called Belessunu; when Belessunu died, Amat-Mamu received the “mother
tablets” (ṭuppât ummâtim) of the properties of Belessunu which proved, along
with her adoption contract, that she was the legitimate owner of the proper-
ties. Thanks to these tablets, she could defend herself against her cousins who
claimed her properties and were obliged to leave her a tablet renouncing any fur-
ther claim. The whole file was kept, as usual, in the house of a man of her family,
in that case, an uncle of hers. But then, the tablets were lost and Amat-Mamu had
to come before the local court so that judges reconstitute the lost documents (Ak-
kadian language says that they “made the tablet live again”). I quote here only an
extract from this long text:
41
By order of Sîn-išmeanni and the assembly of the merchants (kârum) of Sippar, one
has made this tablet “live again”. The tablet of inheritance (tuppi aplûtim), the tablets
of former possessions (tuppi ummâtim) and the tablet renouncing any claim (tuppi la
ragâmim) that Amat-Mamu, daughter of Sîn-ilî, received from Bêlessunu, in the house
of Ikûn-pî-Sîn or wherever they will be seen, they belong to Amat-Mamu, daughter of
Sîn-ilî. In the future, according to the content of this tablet, Ikûn-pî-Sîn, his sons, and
the parents of Bêlessunu, whether men or women, as many as they are, shall not lay
any claim against Amat-Mamu, daughter of Sîn-ilî. They swore by Šamaš, Marduk and
Samsu-iluna the king.
We do not know where and by whom this new record was eventually kept, but
this example of “resurrection” of a lost tablet shows how important it was for
Amat-Mamu to be in possession of a written title establishing her rights over her
goods and protecting her against any further claim
42
. Things assuredly went the
same way for anybody during the Old Babylonian period.

41 See Charpin 1986, p. 133-135 (revised English version now published as “The Transfer of
Property Deeds and the Constitution of Family Archives”, Charpin 2010, p. 53-69), and, for a
new translation, Charpin 2000a, p. 74-76.
42 See also Charpin in press b, p. 53.
78
3.3. The Organization of Private Archives and the Memory
The last point of this brief survey of Old Babylonian archival documents is about
a particular kind of texts without any sealing, witness nor date (and then assur-
edly invalid before a court) which people however used to keep in their archives.
Most of them are lists and memoranda, often devoid of any key-word. Their mo-
tivation is difficult to understand when they are taken separately. They make
sense only when they can be put back together with the archives to which they
belonged. Their use actually was often to help organize the archives themselves.
The filing of documents within an archive sometimes was the reason to write
other documents.
43
The archives of Marduk-muballiṭ in Lagaba provide us with good examples
of this common practice: NBC 8632 is a table listing diverse quantities of barley
(measured in GUR) and silver (measured in GÍN [= shekels]) associated with 19
personal names, 9 of which are unfortunately missing, being lost in a large la-
cuna. It does not display any explicit formula, neither date nor validation mark
(seal impressions, etc.). This text certainly has no legal value and it is difficult to
give it some meaning at the first reading. The data are in Table 2.
In absence of any context, this text could be interpreted either as a list of dis-
bursements of barley and/or silver attributed to 19 persons or as a list of receipts
of barley and/or silver brought by 19 persons. The absence of totals, normally
calculated at the end of this kind of list, speaks against the identification of this
tablet as an accounting document. Once put back within the archives to which it
belongs and compared to another series of data, this recapitulatory list however
sheds light on an interesting archival practice of the Old Babylonian period: 12
loan contracts have indeed been identified in Marduk-muballiṭ’s archive. They
record loans of barley and/or silver by Marduk-muballiṭ to different people and
were supposed to be kept by Marduk-muballiṭ until his debtors reimbursed the
whole amount. They are quite regular legal documents, dated and sealed, men-
tioning the name of the creditor, that of the debtor, and those of the witnesses,
the interest rate and the expiry date. Table 3 recapitulates the whole data sorted
in chronological order.
44

43 On the methods of filing of archival texts in Mesopotamia and the various containers used
for conservation of tablets, see the synthesis drawn by K. Veenhof as an introduction to the
30e Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale (Leiden, 1983): Veenhof 1986, especially p. 11-18, with
bibliography.
44 The content of these documents, first studied by O. Tammuz in his unpublished Ph. D.
Dissertation (Tammuz 1993), was used as material for a study by D. Charpin on the influence
of mîšarum-edicts on the archives of private entrepreneurs in the Old Babylonian period; see
Charpin 2000b, especially p. 194 sq. The present table 2 however adds the data of two more do-
cuments: NBC 8533 and NBC 8534 and have been corrected according to collations of the texts:
the date of NBC 8571 is 26/iv/Si 8; the name of the debtor on NBC 6798 is Imdi-Enlil.
79
family archives in mesopotamia…
Table 2: Data recapitulated in NBC 8632
Line Nr. Barley Silver Personal name
2 7 GUR 2 GÍN Imdi-Enlil
3 4 GUR Huzalum
4 1 GUR 1/2 GÍN Ubarum son of Irra-naṣir
5 1 GUR […]
6 1/2 GÍN […]-tim
7 0,3.0 GUR […] the mayor (rabiânum)
8 1 GUR […] the intendant (šatammum)
9 1/3 GÍN 11+ ŠE […-mu]šallim the “gentleman” (awîlum)
10 1/2 GÍN […] […]-lum
11 3 GUR […]
12 2 GUR 3 GÍN […]
13 0, 2.0 GUR […]
14 0, 2.0 GUR Ipqu-Ištar
15 0, 2.0 GUR Addu-tayyar
16 0, 2.0 GUR Uṣi-ina-pušqi
17 0, 2.0 GUR Sin-imguranni
18 0, 2.0 GUR Ubarum
19-20 1 1/2 GÍN Sin-iddinam son of […]
21 1 GÍN Addu-ilum
Table 3: Catalogue of the loan contracts of barley and silver in the archives of Marduk-
muballiṭ of Lagaba (sorted by chronological order)
Text Barley Silver Debtor Date
NBC 8570 3 GUR Ṭab-wašabšu 1/xi/Si 5
NBC 8874 1/2 GÍN Ili-u-Šamaš 13/xi/Si 5
NBC 8564 2 GUR Ea-tukulti 23/ii/Si 6
NBC 8744 1 GUR 1/2 GÍN Ubarum son of Irra-naṣir 17/v/Si 7
NBC 8568 3 GUR Šamaš-nur-matim son of Šamaš-naṣir 11/vi/Si 7
NBC 6798 7 GUR 2 GÍN Imdi-Enlil 5/xi/Si 7
NBC 6752 2 GUR 3 GÍN Šerum-ili son of Nur-Kabta 1/xii/Si 7
NBC 8768 1/4 GÍN Huzalum 20/xii/Si 7
NBC 8571 1 GUR Ubarum 26/iv/Si 8
NBC 8533 0,3. 2 GUR Girni-isa 10/vi/Si 8
NBC 6827 2 GUR 1 GÍN Huzalum 1/vii/Si 8
NBC 8534 1 GUR 1 1/4 GÍN Gimil-Gula -/i/Si 9
80
Comparing both series of data, several points can be underlined (highlighted in
the tables above):
– line 2 of NBC 8632 is an exact parallel to the data of the loan contract NBC
6798, recording the loan of 7 GUR of barley and 2 shekels of silver by Marduk-
muballiṭ to Imdi-Enlil dated to 5/xi/Samsu-iluna 7.
– the name of Huzalum recorded in line 3 of NBC 8632 appears as debtor’s
name in two loan contracts of the same series, NBC 8768 (20/xii/Samsu-iluna
7) and NBC 6827 (1/vii/Samsu-iluna 8) with different quantities.
– line 4 of NBC 8632 is exactly parallel to NBC 8744, recording the loan of 1 GUR
of barley and 1/2 shekel of silver by Marduk-muballiṭ to Ubarum, son of Irra-
naṣir dated to 17/v/Samsu-iluna 7.
– in line 12 of NBC 8632, the personal name is missing but the quantities are
the same as in NBC 6752, a loan contract of barley and silver to Šerum-ili, son
of Nur-Kabta (1/xii/Samsu-iluna 7).
– other names lost in the lacunae of NBC 8632 might also have corresponded to
people known as debtors in other loan contracts.
These few parallels do suffice to state that we are dealing with a recapitulatory
list of debts to be recovered by Marduk-muballiṭ.
45
It does not aim at substituting
for the sealed documents, which were kept beside it. It must have corresponded
to another purpose and may have helped Marduk-muballiṭ know in a glance the
content of a coffer or basket of tablets in which he kept those texts. It remains to
be seen why these texts were filed together and recapitulated once for all on that
record without any indication of the nature of the recorded documents. It has to
be noticed that the only loan contracts that have been identified with certainty as
parallels to NBC 8632 were dated to the 7
th
year of Samsu-iluna (months v, xi and
maybe xii). The loans they record are likely to have been cancelled by the edict of
mîšarum of iii/Samsu-iluna 8.
46
NBC 8632 may thus be a recapitulatory list of the
arrears of cancelled loan contracts that Marduk-muballiṭ knew he would never
recover because of the royal edict.
47
He of course did not need to write down the
nature of the texts: he knew too well what the basket or coffer contained, if, as

45 This is not the only known example of this practice in Old Babylonian archives; see for in-
stance AUCT 5 99, a recapitulatory list of loans made by Ibni-Amurrum which D. Charpin man-
aged to link with 5 original contracts (AUCT 5 41 and 43; BBVOT 1 38, 40 and 48); see Charpin
2005, p. 417 and 2008b, p. 11.
46 Charpin 2000b, p. 195.
47 Some of the loan contracts had apparently not been reimbursed at all, as it is clear for
NBC 6798, 8744 and maybe 6752; some lines of NBC 8632 may however record total amounts
of several contracts or arrears of loans already partially recovered, which would explain the dif-
ferences in quantities, for instance, as for known loans by Huzalum.
81
family archives in mesopotamia…
I assume, he had lost 22 GUR of barley (maybe about 6600 liters) and about 10
shekel of silver (about 80 grams)!
48
For the sake of completeness, a letter belonging to the archives of Marduk-
muballiṭ has to be quoted. It was sent from Babylon by Sagil-mansum to Marduk-
muballiṭ and mentions the existence of another recapitulatory list of loan con-
tracts, probably to be also linked with the edict of mišârum of Samsu-iluna 8:
49
(1-3) Speak to Marduk-muballiṭ: Thus says Sagil-mansum. (4) May Šamaš and Marduk
grant you good health! (5-6) The basket of tablets for which I am responsible, open it
before Apil-Ea and (7-11) the sealed tablet (that says): “1 mina and 1 1/2 shekel of silver,
[…] of gold, dated to ‘the year of the images of suppliants’ (= Samsu-iluna 6), ‘the year of
the powerful weapon’ (= Samsu-iluna 7) and ‘the year of the royal stall’ (= Samsu-iluna
8), that is of 3 years, received by So-and-So, (12-15) that have been given to be recovered
by Munawwirum, the chair-carrier” – that is how it is inscribed – (16-18) that sealed
tablet, have it brought to me to Babylon.
A series of loan contracts have been accumulated by Sagil-mansum during years
6, 7 and 8 of Samsu-iluna. They were then entrusted by Sagil-mansum to Munaw-
wirum to be recovered.
50
This agreement led to write a sealed tablet, the one that
Sagil-mansum speaks about in his letter, which was kept in a basket along with
other business papers of Sagil-mansum and deposited at Marduk-muballiṭ’s as
Sagil-mansum left Lagaba to reside, at least temporarily, in Babylon. One can im-
agine that, when Samsu-iluna proclaimed his edict in month iii of his 3
rd
year of
reign, Sagil-mansum may have intended to get paid by Munawwirum who, as a
recoverer (mušaddinum), had become responsible for the reimbursement of the
loans. This is why Sagil-mansum may have asked that Marduk-muballiṭ had the
sealed tablet brought to him to Babylon.
51

48 Another question is about the status of loan contracts dated sometimes long after the proc-
lamation of the mîšarum edict and whether they were not supposed to compensate the loss of
former amounts, cancelled by the edict ; both dossiers (Marduk-muballiṭ around NBC 8632 and
Ibni-Amurrum around AUCT 5 99) indeed contain texts dated to several months following the
mîšarum of iii/Si 8, and in the case of Marduk-muballiṭ, even 10 months later (NBC 8534 dated
to -/i/Si 9); the fact that these texts were found together with the discarded contracts would
rather indicate that they were never recovered and were cancelled too; see the discussion in
Charpin 2000b, p. 197, with other references.
49 YOS 15 38 (NBC 6290); see Charpin 2000b, p. 195 and n. 36.
50 Mari provides us with a nice parallel of such a recapitulatory list: M.15119+M.15287 is a list
of unrecovered loan contracts found in the house of the princess Inibšina, that were entrusted
to Šubnalu to be recovered. The list itself is not sealed, but it was established in presence of the
king and it ends with these words (l. 58-60): “Šubnalu received 2 sealed tablets, copy of the pre-
sent tablet, to be recovered”; see Charpin 2008b.
51 D. Charpin gives another explanation (Charpin 2000b, p.195): «Bien que la lettre ne le dise
pas explicitement, il est évident que suite à la mîšarum du mois iii de l’an 8 de Samsu-iluna,
l’affaire est annulée; d’où la demande de Sagil-mansum que le contrat avec Munawwirum lui
parvienne à Babylone». I do not understand why, in case of a cancellation of the agreement
with the mušaddinum, he would have needed to have his sealed document at hand: he could
82
Both examples show how filing and manipulation of archival documents caused
to write other documents describing their content and containers. Letters them-
selves, at least in private context, could have been preserved as memoranda in
order to give sense to a file of documents and keep a trace of a decision or of an
order that led to write or preserve other texts. Both examples also help measure
once again the gap that exists between the number of loans that were actually
written and the number of those which have come to us: among 19 texts recorded
in NBC 8632, 2 texts were identified with certainty and a third one according
to an hypothetical restoration. As for the loan contracts of silver mentioned in
Sagil-mansum’s letter, they never came to us.
52
Other loan contracts recorded
or mentioned in both texts may either have been broken in antiquity after the
debt had eventually been reimbursed, or destroyed in the ground waiting to
be discovered, forgotten by the digger or scattered on the antique market. The
representativeness of the samples we deal with always has to be questioned be-
fore using them as material for quantitative studies.
53
Conclusion
This paper has tried to demonstrate that, however important it is to refine typo-
logical distinctions in order to get a better understanding of archival documents
taken separately, the major progress in assyriological studies will come from
analysing private archives as a whole, when they have been luckily unearthed
during regular excavations, or from gathering and (re)constructing them, file
after file, by confronting and trying to make sense with documents of different
natures. This is how the Archibab project intends to get a better understanding
of phenomena that led to an increasing production, conservation, and use of pri-
vate archives at the beginning of the 2
nd
millennium B.C. in Mesopotamia.

have simply let it sleep as a discarded document in his archives in Lagaba. The claim would
anyway only be legal if the recovery had already been processed before the proclamation of the
mîšarum for someone intending to recover a debt after the mîšarum would incur death penalty.
52 NBC 8723 dated to the 5
th
year of Samsu-iluna was surely not recapitulated in the tablet
mentionned in YOS 15 38: by this contract, Sagil-mansum lent silver to Ṣilli-Šamaš so that he
could buy him a female donkey within 10 days (18/vi-bis/Si 5).
53 It is also possible that not every loan recorded on NBC 8632 led to a written contract; small
loans of barley recorded at ll. 13-18 may have for instance led only to an oral agreement beween
people who knew each other. Studying AUCT 5 99 mentioned above, D. Charpin indeed notes
(Charpin 2008b, p. 11): «Il convient de souligner qu’aucune des 13 créances en nature (…) énu-
mérées dans la deuxième partie de AUCT 5 99 n’a été retrouvée; vu la modestie des montants
en jeu (aux alentours de 1 qa), elles n’ont sans doute pas fait l’objet d’un contrat écrit. La conclu-
sion est très importante; tant ce texte de AUCT 5 que le texte de Mari montrent que les prêts
pouvaient très bien ne pas faire l’objet de la rédaction d’une créance. Cela limite encore plus les
conclusions quantitatives qu’on peut tirer d’un point de vue économique des créances qui ont
été retrouvées (…)».
83 family archives in mesopotamia…
References Barberon 2003
L. Barberon, Le mari, sa femme
et leurs biens: une approche de la
dot dans les rapports patrimoniaux
du couple en Mésopotamie
d’après la documentation paléo-
babylonienne, «RHD» 81/1,
p. 1-14.
Barberon 2009
L. Barberon, Les documents
d’archives des religieuses en
Babylonie ancienne. Usage,
transmission et conservation, in:
Briquel-Chatonnet et alii 2009,
p. 273-288.
Briquel-Chatonnet et alii 2009
F. Briquel-Chatonnet, S.
Farès, B. Lion, C. Michel (ed.),
Femmes, cultures et sociétés dans
les civilisations méditerranéennes
et proche-orientales de l’Antiquité,
«Topoi» Suppl. 10, Lyon.
Charpin 1984
D. Charpin, Une pratique
administrative méconnue,
«MARI. Annales de Recherches
interdisciplinaires» 3,
p. 258-259.
Charpin 1986
D. Charpin, Transmission des
titres de propriété et constitution
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87
the limits of middle babylonian archives
The Limits of Middle
Babylonian Archives
1
Middle Babylonian Archives
Archives and archival records are one of the most important sources for the un-
derstanding of the Babylonian culture.
2
The definition of “archive” used for this
article is the one proposed by Pedersén: «The term “archive” here, as in some
other studies, refers to a collection of texts, each text documenting a message or a
statement, for example, letters, legal, economic, and administrative documents.
In an archive there is usually just one copy of each text, although occasionally a
few copies may exist.»
3
The aim of this article is to provide an overview of the
archives of the Middle Babylonian Period (ca. 1500-1000 BC),
4
which are often

1 All kudurrus are quoted according to Paulus 2012a. For a quick reference on the texts see
the list of kudurrus in table 1.
2 For an introduction into Babylonian archives see Veenhof 1986b; for an overview of differ-
ent archives of different periods see Veenhof 1986a and Brosius 2003a.
3 Pedersén 1998; problems connected to this definition are shown by Brosius 2003b, 4-13.
4 This includes the time of the Kassite dynasty (ca. 1499-1150) and the following Isin-II-pe-
riod (ca. 1157-1026). All following dates are BC, the chronology follows – willingly ignoring all
linked problems – Gasche et. al. 1998.
susanne paulus
88
left out in general studies,
5
highlighting changes in respect to the preceding Old
Babylonian period and problems linked with the material. Finally, it will be
shown that it is possible to reconstruct lost archival records with the help of ma-
terial from outside the archives.
There is a complete break between the Old Babylonian and the Middle Baby-
lonian archives caused by the downfall of the First Dynasty of Babylon. The end
of the Old Babylonian Period came gradually. Starting in the 11
th
year of Samsu-
ilūna (1653-1613), Hammu-rāpi’s successor, parts of the Southern kingdom broke
away, including major cities such as Ur, Uruk and Larsa. This also marks the end
of the archives in these places during his 12
th
year, while documentation in the
cities of Isin, Nippur and Lagaba did not fall silent until the 30
th
year of Samsu-
ilūna.
6
While the North stayed under Babylonian control, the South fell under
the influence of the so called “First Sealand Dynasty”, with only a few, recently
published texts documenting this period.
7
At the same time the Kassites,
8
a peo-
ple possibly originating from the Zagros region, started to move into Northern
Babylonia, settling down in the region around Sippar. Some of them were quick-
ly integrated into Babylonian society, others fought against the Babylonian army.
These encounters are mentioned in the late Old Babylonian year names.
9
Finally,
during the reign of Samsu-ditāna, the Hittite king Muršili I. raided Babylon, put-
ting an end to Hammu-rāpi’s dynasty.
10
From recently published material it has
been confirmed that the Kassites were directly involved in these final fights as
well.
11
It was also the Kassites who profited most from the situation, taking over
the throne to rule Babylonia for the next 400 years.
Information concerning the first Kassite kings ruling over Babylonia is
sparse. Only a few royal inscriptions survived, often in the form of copies dating
to later periods.
12
With one exception – the archive of Tell Muḥammad which
dates to the transitional period –
13
the archival records
14
do not resume until the
reign of Kurigalzu I. about 1370, who founded a new capital in the North of Bab-

5 The Middle Babylonian archives are e.g. missing in Veenhof 1986a and Brosius 2003a.
6 Charpin 2004, 335-6.
7 Dalley 2009 and van Koppen 2010, 456-7.
8 On the Kassites, their history and culture see Sommerfeld 2000 and Zadok 2005.
9 Paulus 2011 with further references; add van Koppen 2010.
10 Charpin 2004, 382-3.
11 See Paulus 2011, 4 note 31.
12 Bartelmus 2010, 143-6.
13 Alubaid 1983; for recent proposals for the chronological classification of the material see
Boese 2008 and van Koppen 2010, 457-62.
14 For an overview of the Kassite archives see Pedersén 1998, 103-19; Brinkman 1976, 35-49,
and Sassmannshausen 2001, 3-4.
89
the limits of middle babylonian archives
ylonia: Dūr-Kurigalzu.
15
Sadly, only about 100 tablets
16
of the official,
17
palatial ar-
chives survived, most of them being administrative records that deal with the
distribution of precious metals for building purposes and the redistribution of
clothes.
18
Only a fragment of a royal letter hints that an archive of international
correspondence may have existed in Dūr-Kurigalzu, similar to the contemporary
archives of Hattuša in Anatolia or Tell el-Amarna in Egypt.
19
Most of the texts
from Dūr-Kurigalzu are still unpublished.
20
The situation is even worse for the old capital Babylon: due to the high level of
groundwater in the area it has only been possible to excavate the Middle Babylo-
nian levels once, and only for a very limited amount of time. In the private houses
of the Merkes quarter about 570 tablets were found: nearly all of them remain un-
published to-date. Pedersén was able to identify five private archives containing
lists and legal documents, often sale and loan contracts. Sometimes the original
storage places of the tablets – large clay pots – were discovered as well.
21
Such an archive-in-a-pot has also been found in the small settlement of Tell
Imlihiye, located in the north-east at the river Diyala, from where 45 tablets have
been published. Most of them contain rural administrative lists, but among
them a slave sale and a letter have been identified.
22
There are also some archival
rests from the nearby villages.
23
An important archive belonging to the brewers of the main deity Sîn has been
unveiled in Ur. Most of the 75 texts, all of them published, are legal documents:
mostly sale contracts, but also disputes and court records.
24
Nevertheless, 90% of all Kassite tablets, totaling at over 12000 pieces, came
from the city of Nippur, provincial capital and seat of the highest Babylonian God
of the Kassite period, Enlil. About 20% of the material has been published so far.
25


15 Modern ɣAqr Quf. For the recent excavations and new data from Dūr-Kurigalzu see
Clayden 2012.
16 These figures are based on Clayden 2012, where a full list of all known tablets is given.
Brinkman 1976, 43 speaks of ca. 250 inscribed objects from Dūr-Kurigalzu, but this includes
building, votive inscriptions, etc.
17 For the distinction between “official” and “private” archives see Veenhof 1968b, 10-11.
18 See Baqir 1944; Baqir 1945, 1946; Gurney 1949 and 1953.
19 For the letter fragment see Brinkman 1976 no. J. 2.18. For the international correspondence
found in Tell el-Amarna Moran 1992; for Hatti see Beckman 1999.
20 See the list by Clayden 2012.
21 See Pedérsen 2005, 72 fig. 28 and 101 fig. 49.
22 The total of texts from Tell Imlihiye is listed 84, see Sassmannshausen 2001, 4. For the texts
see Kessler 1982, 51-116.
23 Kessler 1985, 18 and 74-9; 1995, 281-8.
24 See Brinkman 1976, 44. For the texts see Gurney 1983.
25 Brinkman 1976, 41-2; add the material now published by Sassmannshausen 2001. For an
overview see Pedersén 1998, 112-6 and Sassmannshausen 2001, 186-8.
90
Most of the administrative documents belong to the archive of the governor of
Nippur, the šandabakku:
26
but his archive also contained letters and legal docu-
ments that show the activity of the governor in slave sales.
27
Part of this find was
the archive of the granary, covering specifically the income and redistribution of
natural produce.
28
While most material from Nippur is from official archives, in
later excavations two small private archives with about 35 tablets were discov-
ered.
29
With these archives being an exception, only a few texts are known from
famous cities like Uruk, Larsa, Isin, Kīš and Adab
30
together with the so called
“Peiser archive” of unknown origin.
31
Not only the geographical, but also the chronological distribution is highly
unbalanced.
32
Over 90% of the records originate from the time between Burna-
Buriaš II., i.e. middle of the 14
th
century, and Kaštiliaš IV., at the end of the 13
th
cen-
tury.
33
With only a few texts from the Nippur archives being dated earlier, most of
them document the period between the 14
th
and 13
th
century, just as the archives
of Tell Imlihiye and Dūr-Kurigalzu.
34
The reason for the break of the archives
in the 13
th
century was the conquest of Babylonia by the Assyrian king Tukultī-
Ninurta I. in 1220. Some scholars even stated that Nippur was deurbanized after
this period, but texts from outside the archives prove the contrary.
35
Only the ar-
chives of Ur and the unpublished material from Babylon cover the whole later
Kassite period, with just the Babylonian tablets dating to the very end.
36
Due to the state of publication it is impossible to draw a complete picture
of the legal matters covered by the Middle Babylonian archives. This article will


26 For an overview of the published Nippur material see Sassmannshausen 2001, 3 note 6.
For the role of the šandabakku in Nippur see Sassmannshausen 2001, 16-21; cf. also the com-
ments by Brinkman 2004.
27 For the letters see Radau 1908; for slave sales see Petschow 1983. For legal texts from Nip-
pur cf. Petschow 1974.
28 Sassmannshausen 2001, 187-94.
29 For these archives see Pedersén 1998, 116 with further references.
30 Brinkman 1976, 40-9 and Sassmannshausen 2001, 3-4.
31 Brinkman 1976, 46; Sassmannshausen 2001, 4.
32 See Brinkman 1976, 35-40 and the graphical overview by Stiehler Alegria-Delgado 1996,
229. The material from Babylon must be corrected following Pedersén 2005, the dates for Dūr-
Kurigalzu following Clayden 2012.
33 Brinkman 1976, 36-7.
34 Nevertheless some tablets from Dūr-Kurigalzu date to Marduk-apla-iddina I., see Clayden
2012.
35 For example Gasche et al. 1998, 31: «Towards the end of the thirteenth century, most of
Nippur was abandoned, and no early twelfth-century contexts have been identified at the site»,
while the kudurru MŠ 4 proves the contrary.
36 Especially the archive M8 has material dating to Zababa-šuma-iddina and Enlil-nādin-aḫi,
the last Kassite kings; cf. Pedersén 2005, 94.
91
the limits of middle babylonian archives
therefore focus on one topic: real estate sale contracts. So far only one of these
contracts has been published, concerning a house plot in Nippur.
37
A few nearly
identical documents are known, especially from the unpublished Babylon texts,
38

but surprisingly, as far as I know, none of them deal with larger estates or fields.
39

This is completely different from the situation in the preceding Old Babylo-
nian period, where land sales were common, especially in Middle and Northern
Babylonia, for example in Nippur.
40
Perhaps, one may assume, this is due to a
coincidence, but at the same time sales of movable property, especially of slaves,
are known from all Middle Babylonian archives.
41
Another explanation might be
that there were restrictions to prevent and/or control real estate sales, as it was
proposed for the end of the 3
rd
millennium in Babylonia.
42
Or, finally, could it be
possible that private property on real estate did not exist at all because the king
owned all the land?
43
Material from outside the archives – The kudurrus
To answer these questions we have the unique opportunity to use juridical mate-
rial dealing with real estates from outside the archives: the kudurrus.
44
Kudurrus,
in older literature often labelled “boundary stones” by mistake, are typical for
the Kassite period. These 40 to 90 cm tall objects, made of dark limestone, were
usually decorated with gods’ symbols and bore long inscriptions. They were set
up in temples before the Gods with the purpose of securing real estate property
from encroachment by the highest authorities of the state, such as the king and


37 Sassmannshausen 2001, no. 10; for comments on this text see Paulus 2008.
38 See Paulus 2008, 318 note 2 and Pedersén 2005, especially the archives M 1 and M 8. Parts
of another real estate sale from Babylon have been published by Paulus 2009, 19-22.
39 Normally only qaqqaru kišubbû (in the city) “empty lot for building a house”, see Paulus
2008, 318-9 note 4, or bītātu (epšētu) “(build) houses”: see the examples in Pedersén 2005, ar-
chives M1 and M8.
40 See for example Renger 1987 or Stol 2004, 844-7.
41 Sassmannshausen 2001, 202-8.
42 See Neumann 1987, 33-7.
43 Cf. Schloen 2001, 297: «… that the king had rights over all of the land, so that in theory, at
least, all landholdings were royal grants.»
44 kudurru is a Mesopotamian word used for these objects. Nevertheless, they were more of-
ten labeled as narû “stele” by the Babylonians. For the problematic terminology see Brinkman
2006, 6-8 and Paulus 2012a. The term kudurru is used as a science historical term in this article.
Following the definition proposed in Paulus 2012a a “kudurru” is a stela made of stone or clay
or a stone tablet, on which a juridical act concerning sale, donation, confirmation of rights and/
or exemptions of real estate property and/or prepends for a kings’ subject is both recorded and
protected against violation with the help of the gods (curses and symbols).
92
the provincial government. In other words, by means of the kudurru, the estate
owner asked the gods for assistance to protect his property.
45
Interestingly, the geographical and chronological distribution of the kudur-
rus is not congruent with the archival material, but shows a lot of differences.
Focussing only on the objects datable to the Kassite period – more than 60 ob-
jects date to the later Isin-II-dynasty and the Early Neo-Babylonian period
46
– the
chronological distribution for the Middle Kassite period is relatively even, show-
ing no peak in the main period of the archives, while most kudurrus date to the
reigns of the late Kassite kings Meli-Šipak and Marduk-apla-iddina I. during the
12
th
century.
47
This is due to a coincidence: When the Elamites conquered Baby-
lonia they looted the temples, taking away precious objects including many of
the newer kudurrus that still were in place. This is also the reason why a lot of
kudurrus were not discovered in Babylonia but rather in the Elamite capital, Su-
sa.
48
Apart from the more than 54, often badly damaged, kudurrus found in Susa,
there are also Kassite kudurrus from Babylon, Ur, Dūr-Kurigalzu and Nippur, as
well as from cities without Middle Babylonian archives like Sarol-e-Zohab in the
upper Diyala-region, the important cities of Sippar and Kiš or the southern cities
like Larsa.
49
The information from the kudurrus can thus be used complemen-
tary to the archival records to reconstruct parts of the legal system of the Kassite
period. The aim of this article is to use the material from these objects and the
archival records to answer the following questions:
– Can restrictions on the sale of real estate property be reconstructed with the
help of the kudurrus?
– Can the legal information of the kudurrus be used to reconstruct documents
that must have existed in the archives?
Restrictions on real estate sales
Although all Kassite kudurrus deal with real estate property, the role of the sale
50


45 For the art historical aspects see Seidl 1987; for the inscriptions see Paulus 2012a with a
full edition of all known kudurrus. An English synopsis is in Paulus 2012b.
46 Cf. Paulus 2012b, fig. 1.
47 Cf. Paulus 2012a. There are only three kudurrus from the Early Kassite Period (ca. 1500-
1328), while five kudurrus can be dated to the main period of the archives.
48 For the historical background see Potts 1999, 232-9.
49 Examples for Kudurrus datable in the Kassite Period: Babylon: MŠ 4; Ur: U19; Dūr-Kuri-
galzu: NM 3; Nippur: U4; Sarpol-e-Zohab: MAI I 4, Sippar: KaE I 1; MŠ 2; Kiš: Kassite fragments
(see Clayden 1992, 149-51), Larsa: NM 1, KuE 1.
50 The definition for sale used is: Sale is the exchange for an amount of money or its equiva-
lent. It is important to understand, that this does not always correspond with the Babylonian
terminology; see above.
93
the limits of middle babylonian archives
itself is minor. The king buys some land from the provincial governor and his
subordinates.
51
This proves that he was not the owner of all land in his state, nev-
ertheless no sales of larger estates between private parties exist until long after
the end of the Kassite period. The usual way property was transferred was the
royal donation.
52
To fully understand the donation system, we must first take a closer look at
the system of landownership during this period. The rural landscape of Babylo-
nia was dominated by small settlements alongside rivers and canals surrounded
by fields. These fields could be private property often owned and cultivated by a
family. Towns owed duties and taxes to the provincial government and, as head
of all provinces, to the king. The king was able to give the complete income from
one town to one of his loyal subjects, like a high official or a priest, in the form of
a royal donation. This meant that the affected town was exempted from taxes and
other duties owed to the province, with this income going directly into the cof-
fers of the new owner, making the whole town effectively his private property.
53
It is hard to find traces of this system in provincial archives, as for example in
the governor’s archive in Nippur, because these towns are neither listed in the
income list of taxes nor were the inhabitants subscribed for public labor. Never-
theless, some information can be found: some private structures were included
on a sketchy map of the surroundings of Nippur;
54
donations and problems con-
cerning irrigation are mentioned in the letters, and disputes over the exemption
from taxes can be found in court records.
55
But the fact that the donated towns
were no longer part of the provincial administration meant that the provincial
archives did no longer record matters concerning them, especially since the
separation from the provinces included an exemption that no official was al-
lowed to enter a private town.
56
Due to the fact that whole towns, including their hinterland, could become
private property, the king necessarily had to control who exactly possessed land,
since he would lose control of large parts of his empire otherwise.
57
As a solution,

51 See MŠ 3: The king buys a garden and other estates and gifts them to his daughter; and MAI
I 1: The governor is labelled as nādinān eqli “seller of the field” and MAI I 5: the governor receives
a payment for an estate.
52 For the legal institute of donation see Neumann, Paulus 2009, esp. 143.
53 For the reconstruction of this system see Paulus 2012a and 2012b; for land owned by the
gods see also Paulus 2010.
54 CBS 13865, see Finkelstein 1962, 80 and pl. X, edition Paulus 2012a.
55 For example the letters CBS 19793 (Radau 1908, no. 24), CBS 4753 (Lutz 1919, no. 52), CBS
4663 (Lutz 1919, no. 23) and the court record CBS 12914 (Clay 1906, no. 39), all from the gover-
nor’s archive in Nippur.
56 The interdiction to enter the private towns was usually expressed in the exemption clauses
or as part of possible violation listed in the curses at the end of the inscriptions.
57 So Charpin 2008, 77 : «On a donc affaire à une amputation du domaine royale.»
94
transfer of property was only allowed by inheritance in the male family line.
58

Only in case of a subject’s severe misconduct the king was allowed to expropri-
ate him. If there was no legitimate heir, it was the king’s duty to give the land
to somebody else, usually someone sharing the deceased one’s profession.
59
At
the same time the sale or donation of the land to a third party was definitely re-
stricted and it is not by coincidence that no larger real estate sales, neither on
kudurrus nor in the archival records, are known from the Kassite period. Like
provincial governors,
60
the king was allowed to sell land, but even in this case the
terminology of sale is avoided, as shown by the following example:
NKU I 4:
(I1)
“[X hors]es
(7)
gave (iddinma)
(2)
[Adad-zēra]-šubši,
(3)
[son of Ad]ad-rīša,
(4)
the
merchant,
(5)
[t]o the king,
(6)
Marduk-apla-iddina (I.) and
(8)
81 ha land
(9-10)
in (the prov-
ince) Bīt-Sîn-šeme,
(11)
81 ha land
(12-13)
in (the province) Bīt-Sîn-ašarēd (…)
(16)
they sur-
veyed (imšuḫū) and
(20)
established it permanently (ukinnū)
(17)
for
(18)
Adad-zēra-šubši,
(19)
the merchant.”
61
While this is clearly a sale – horses are given in exchange for land – the Babylo-
nian sale terminology is avoided
62
and instead terms like “give” (nadānu), “sur-
vey” (mašāḫu) and “establish permanently” (kunnu), all known from the royal
donations, are used. Although this is clearly no royal donation, the act is verbally
disguised to better fit into the system of landownership, where a strong restric-
tion on real property sale existed and only small estates like private fields around
the towns, gardens or houses and building plots could be freely sold.
63
This restriction continued in following times: clay tablets from the archives,
kudurrus and also stone tablets
64
– hybrids between a kudurru and a clay tablet
– prove this fact. The situation only slowly changed under Marduk-nādin-aḫḫē
(1099-1082) during the Isin-II-period (1157-1026). An interesting example high-
lights that there were still restrictions:
65
the text describes a transfer of property

58 The right of inheritance was secure, because the land was always donated „forever“ (ana ūm
ṣāti).
59 See MŠ 4 and its discussion in Paulus 2007, 8-15.
60 See note 51.
61 NKU I 4, I1-20: (I1) [X ANŠE. KUR]. RA. MEŠ (2) [
m.d
IŠKUR. NUMUN]-šub-ši (3) [DUMU
m.d
IŠ]KUR-ri-šá (4)
[lú]
DAM.GÀR (5) [a]-[n]a LUGAL (6)
[d
AMAR.UTU.IBILA.ŠÚM
na
(7) [Š]ÚM-ma (8)
[10];0.0 GUR NUMUN (9) [10];0.0 GUR NUMUN (10) i-na É- (11)
d
XXX-še-me (12) 10;0.0 GUR NU-
MUN (13) i-na É- (14)
d
XXX. SAG. KAL (…) (16) im-šu-ḫu-ma (17) a-na (18)
m.d
IŠKUR. NUMUN-
šub-ši (19)

DAM.GÀR (20) u-kin-nu. The restoration of the word “horses” ([X ANŠE. KUR].
RA. MEŠ) in the first line is very likely.
62 See Sassmannshausen 2001, 203-10 for an overview of the terminology. Typical are terms
like ŠÁM “price” and šâmu “to buy”.
63 See note 39.
64 For example IMB 1, a very early Isin-II-period stone tablet, with a small estate sale, or ENAp
3, also a stone tablet.
65 See MNA 4.
95
the limits of middle babylonian archives
from Bāltānu, who sells part of his paternal estate (about 56 ha), to one Urkāt-
Burēa, thus concluding a “normal” private sale.
66
But when the king learns of this,
he decides to return (turru) the land to Bāltānu, while any refund of the silver
to Urkāt-Burēa is not mentioned in the text.
67
Bāltānu appeals to the king, who
finally agrees to hand over administration of the land to Urkat-Burēa in form of
a donation.
68
But it is clearly understandable that this transaction was not a real
royal donation but rather a private sale, now approved by the king. In other simi-
lar situations the land sold or privately donated was always given the approving
label of a royal donation.
69
Even in the following Early Neo-Babylonian period (1026-625),
70
when due to
internal problems and the weakening of royal power it was no longer possible for
the king to control the transfer of real estate, a phrase is written at the beginning
of every real estate sale contract: “Together with the seller the buyer proclaimed
to buy for the price X”.
71
With this standardized formula still a proclamation was
made to the king asking for his permission for the transaction.
72
In reality, most
properties were transferred without the control or even knowledge of the king
proving that the restrictions on sale here reconstructed for the Middle Babylo-
nian period did no longer exist.
The reconstruction of archival documents
While the kudurrus explain the lack of real estate sale documents in the archives,
at the same time they also point out that more types of documents must have
existed than we actually know of from the archives.
Part of the kudurru inscription was copied from a legal document: the pro-
perty, usually large real estates, the parties involved and the transaction. Later
in the Kassite period, a list of witnesses was added. Other important parts of the
kudurru inscriptions are the narrative introduction, where reasons for the land
transfer are given, and, even more fundamental, the protective part, where a list
of possible aggressors and actions against the real estate is combined with curses
from the gods against the malefactor. Both, introduction and protective part, are
not part of normal legal documents, making the kudurru itself more than a mere

66 MNA 4: I1-19, sale terminoloy (ŠÁM) is used.
67 MNA 4: I20-23.
68 MNA 4: II2-5. Donation terminology is used: “to hand over administration” (pāni … šudgulu)
and “to gift” (râmu).
69 niditti šarri “donation of the king”, see for example MNA 2: II7 in a private sale.
70 For an overview of kings, history and texts from this period see Frame 1995, 70-270.
71 itti seller buyer kî price maḫīra imbêma, see Petschow 1939, 9.
72 On this interpretation of the Neo-Babylonian sale form see Paulus 2012a.
96
copy of a legal tablet. Nevertheless, we can use the information extracted from
the legal part to reconstruct the documents behind it.
73
Sometimes it is even mentioned in the inscription that this part of the kudur-
ru was copied from a special clay tablet. There are three important types of tablets
mentioned. First of all the donation or, in Akkadian, the kunuk šarri ša šiprēti, the
“the king’s sealed document of instructions”. With this act the land was given to
the official, but real assignment occurred locally in the province and was docu-
mented in another sealed tablet, the ammatu or the “tablet of the land survey”. Fi-
nally, when the new land owner’s property rights were contested, the king judged
the matter and his verdicts were recorded in form of kanīk dīni, the “sealed docu-
ments of the judgment”. In one example all three documents were listed:
MAI I 1: “
(III11)
The tablet of the land survey and the tablet of the field, the sealed docu-
ment of the judgment
(12)
he (= the king) sealed (…)”.
74
In this case the tablet of the donation and the tablet of confirmation during the
law suit is one, because no original document of donation was issued by the for-
mer king leading to the contestation of ownership.
75
Normally only one or two
different types of documents are recorded on one kudurru. Focusing on the ex-
amples from the Kassite period, an attempt will be made to restore content and
context in the archives:
Starting with the donation, these tablets contain a description of the land and
the act of the donation itself which was witnessed by the highest officials of the
empire, since the entitlement took place in the king’s palace and was sealed with
the kings own royal seal leading to its specially name: kunuk šarri ša šiprēti, the
“the king’s sealed document of instructions”.
76
This term is only rarely used in
Kassite times,
77
but it is often noted that the king sealed the donation tablet him-
self.
78
Sometimes this was not possible and led to further litigation.
79
While no
real donation tablet has been found, we do know of similar tablets found in the
contemporary royal archives of Ugarit on the Levantine coast and Hattuša, capital
of the Hittite State in Anatolia.
80
From these examples we also can learn, where

73 Paulus 2012a and 2012b.
74 MAI I 1: (III11) 1. KÚŠ ù ṭup-pi A.ŠÀ ka-nik di-ni (III12) ik-nu-uk-ma.
75 See MAI I 1: II13 with commentary by Paulus 2007, 5-7.
76 For a complete discussion of the term kunuk šarri ša šiprēti see Paulus 2012c, for older inter-
pretations see Kienast 1987.
77 U7 II1. It becomes common in the later Isin-II-period. See Paulus 2012d.
78 See KuE 1: III22ff. and III42, MŠ 3: (text 4) 21ff. and (text 8) II9; MŠ 4: IV5 and U3: II1ff.
79 See MAI I 1: II12 (cf. note 75) and MAI I 6: I22’. The fact that the king did not seal the donation
is often quoted verbatim as possible violation in the curses, cf. MAI I 7: IV2’.
80 For the Hittites see Riemschneider 1958 and Wilhelm 2005; for Ugarit see Márquez
Rowe 2006.
97
the limits of middle babylonian archives
we can expect to find donation documents within the archival structures of Baby-
lonia. Being the most important proof of land ownership, these documents were
kept in the private archives of the beneficiary for generations.
81
In case of doubts
they could be presented in court.
82
From the kudurrus we know that the benifi-
ciaries of the land donation were high officials, like viziers, high priests etc.
83
,
while the archives we have come from “average townsmen”, like temple brewers,
merchants and others. So the chances to find information on land donations in
these archives are minor.
84
Copies of the documents should also have existed in
the royal archives, similar to Ugarit or Hattuša, but as presented in the overview
at the beginning of this article, no corresponding archives have been discovered
so far.
Regarding land surveys, the situation is almost the same. This act took place in
the local provinces, where the land was finally given to the beneficiary. The act of
the land survey was at the same time an act of publication, making the new own-
ership known.
85
Involved were a field surveyor, a royal envoy and provincial of-
ficers.
86
All of them witnessed the act and could be questioned on it in a later law
suit.
87
The tablets, named ammatu,
88
were given to the new owner, so we should
be able to find them in private archives.
89
An analogue procedure in the contem-
porary Middle Assyrian texts makes it very likely that copies were also stored in
the royal and provincial archives
90
. As for the private and royal records, we lack
any traces, for the same reason as mentioned for the donation tablets. Concern-
ing provincial archives, which only have been discovered in Nippur, we lack the


81 For the practice of storage of real estate tablets in old Babylonian Period see Charpin 1986.
A good Kassite example for the storage of real estate tablets is M1, see Pedersén 2005, 72-3.
82 The king asked for the tablet stored in the house of the proprietary (MŠ 4: III9ff.); the tablets
are shown to the king (KaE II 1: II’4’ff. and Ka IV 2: II22’ff.), the tablet is contested (ŠŠ 1: I11ff.), the
land is given according to the tablet (KaE II 1: II’7’).
83 A list of all beneficiaries is to be found in Paulus 2012a.
84 See above.
85 Sometimes it is noted that the king sealed this tablets by his royal seal (for example MŠ 3:
text 8 I17), but the king is never listed as witness for the land survey.
86 For the procedure of the land survey see Robson 2008, 166-76; Baker 2011, 293-307, and
Paulus 2012a (study of the sons of Arad-Ea).
87 MAI I 1: II21ff.
88 Written 1. KÙŠ; my interpretation follows Sommerfeld 1984, 304-5. Charpin 2002, 178-9
puts it in context with the old Babylonian ṭuppi ummatim “mother tablet” issued for the first
owner (see Charpin 1986, 135-49), but in Middle Babylonian it was always issued in connec-
tion with the land survey to the actual owner. In addition the etymology of ummatum = AMA
“mother” and ammatum = 1. KÙŠ “one cubit” is completely different. For a complete discussion
see Paulus 2012a.
89 ammatu-tablets are mentioned in MŠ 3: text 8 I17; MAI I 1: III11, MAI I 3: I 21’, MAI I 7: IV20’
and U3: II1ff.
90 MAL §B6, cf. Roth 1995, 177-8; see also Jakob 2003, 70-2.
98
land register tablets and concerning matters. Nevertheless, we find traces of the
involved officials in ration lists.
91
Finally, for the court records it is more complicated to reconstruct a uniform
document typology. The king’s role was that of the highest judge and he there-
fore treated all matters concerning real estates of high officials,
92
including bor-
der conflicts with neighbors or matters about hereditary succession. The tablets
issued not only contain the final verdicts but also documents written during the
trial, for example the ṭuppi ana ḫuršān, the “tablets for the water ordeal”
93
that
were required to send the parties to the evidence procedure, which took place in
front of the gods. These sorts of tablet are also known from the private archives of
the brewers in Ur as well as the archive in Nippur, where the king is mentioned,
but that deals with animal theft, not questions of landownership.
94
Nevertheless,
we thus have a direct correlation between the kudurrus and archival records. As
for the final verdicts, none have yet been found for the same reasons mentioned
before, because they usually are stored within the private archives of the benefi-
ciaries with copies being kept in the royal archives.
95
To conclude, the rich but badly published material from the Middle Babylo-
nian archives does not always correlate with the material from outside of the ar-
chives, thus showing important gaps in written records. But the situation is not
as hopeless as it may appear. Especially one unpublished archive from Babylon is
very promising.
96
It belonged to one Itti-Ezida-lummir, an āšipu “exorcist or evo-
cator”, a title that is also known from the beneficiaries in the kudurrus.
97
About
100 tablets were discovered, a lot of them real estate sales concerning houses and
house plots. Along with them a kudurru was unearthed. Sadly, it was highly dam-
aged, with no inscription being left.
98
This situation makes it possible, that the

91 For the occurance of ša rēš šarri-officials, typical royal envoys see Sassmannshausen 2001, 45.
92 See Paulus 2007; Kassite examples are NM 3, MŠ 4, MAI I 1, perhaps also KaE II 1 and ŠŠ 1.
93 MŠ 4: IV38ff. and V14ff.
94 See Paulus 2007, 15-6 with further references. A detailed study is in preparation by the
author.
95 At the end of MŠ 4: VI26ff. it is noted that the kudurru inscription is a copy (gabarê) of three
verdict issued by the kings Adad-šuma-iddina, Adad-šuma-uṣur and Meli-Šipak. Because some
time passed between the different verdicts, it is certain that there were copies in private hands.
96 M 8, see Pedersén 2005, 93-101.
97 An āšipu is the beneficiary in AAI 4, while bārûs are known from the Kassite kudurrus
KḪ I 1 and MŠ 4.
98 For a beautiful photograph of this object see Marzahn, Schauerte 2008, 176. While kudur-
rus were kept usually in the temple and not in private archives (see Seidl 1989, 72-3), there are
two possible explanations for this exemption: due to the state of preservation it is not possible
to say, if the kudurru was already inscribed. So perhaps it was purchased by the family and wait-
ing to be inscribed with the donation. Another more probable reason is found in the date of the
archive to the absolute end (see note 36) of the Kassite period. So perhaps in these insecure days
the family took the kudurru from the temple to avoid that the Elamite could loot it, like lots of
other objects.
99
the limits of middle babylonian archives
family of Itti-Ezida-lummir owned some houses in Babylon, as well as a land do-
nation of a larger estate in this province or another. So it is my hope that this ar-
chive may help to understand how the system of landownership worked for the
beneficiary himself. In order to overcome the limits of the Middle Babylonian
archives, we have to further publish the known material and, at the same time,
combine it with all the information from outside the archives.
Table 1 – List of kudurrus
Kudurru Seidl’s number
*
museum’s number publication
**
AAI 4 – private collection Paulus 2012a
ENAp 3 – YBC 13522 Paulus 2012a
IMB 1 T1 BM 91015 King 1912 (BBSt no. 30)
Ka IV 2 3 Sb 30 Scheil 1900 (MDP 2, 92 ff.)
KaE I 1 –
BM 91036
BM 135743
King 1912 (BBSt no. 1)
KaE II 1 p. 229 Land of the Bible Museum Grayson 1981
KḪ I 1 – YBC 2242 Paulus 2012a
KuE 1 p. 225 L 7076 Arnaud 1972
MAI I 1 61 Sb 26 Scheil 1905 (MDP 6, 31 ff.)
MAI I 4 p. 222 Teheran? Borger 1970
MAI I 5 59 Sb 33 Scheil 1905 (MDP 6, 39 ff.)
MAI I 6 G3 Sb 169 Scheil 1905 (MDP 6, 42 ff.)
MAI I 7 p. 222 NBC 9502 Paulus 2012a
MNA 2 79 BM 90841 King 1912 (BBSt no. 7)
MNA 4 p. 223 IM 90585 Al-Adami 1982
MŠ 2 12 BM 90829 King 1912 (BBSt no. 4)
MŠ 3 23 Sb 23 Scheil 1908 (MDP 10, 87 ff.)
MŠ 4 25 BM 90827 King 1912 (BBSt no. 3)
NKU I 4 – private collection Paulus 2012a
NM 1 p. 221 L 7072 Arnaud 1972
NM 3 2 IM 49991 Baqir 1944
ŠŠ 1 57 AS 1335 (+) Sb 6430 Paulus 2012a
U3 9 IM 5527 Sommerfeld 1984
U4 8 VA 213 Hilprecht 1896 (BE 1/2 no. 150)
U7 18+19 Sb 6432 (+) Sb 791 Paulus 2012a
U19 84 IM 934 Gadd, Legrain 1928 (UET no. 165)
* Seidl 1989. Supplementary kudurrus added in 1989 are listed with the page no. in Seidl 1989.
** Usually the publication of the cuneiform text, sometimes an important edition.
100
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141-145.
Paulus 2007
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Šamaš – Zur Rechtsprechung der
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1-22.
Paulus 2008
S. Paulus, Ein Beitrag
zum mittelbabylonischen
Immobilarkauf, «AoF» 35, 2008,
318-322.
Paulus 2009
S. Paulus, Blutige Vertragsstrafen
in mittelbabylonischen
Kaufurkunden, «ZAR» 15 (2009),
pp. 15-30.
Paulus 2010
S. Paulus, Verschenkte Städte
– Königliche Landschenkungen
an Götter und Menschen, in City
Administration in the Ancient
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53
rd
Rencontre Assyriologique
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102
N. Koslova, S. Loesov, S.
Tishchenko (eds.), Winona
Lake 2010, 191-206.
Paulus 2011
S. Paulus, Foreigners under
Foreign Rulers. The Case of Kassite
Babylonia, in The Foreigner and
the Law , BZAR 16. R. Achenbach,
R. Albertz, J. Wöhrle (eds.),
Wiesbaden 2011, 1-15.
Paulus 2012a
S. Paulus, Die babylonischen
Kudurru-Inschriften von
der kassitischen bis zur
frühneubabylonischen Zeit –
Untersucht unter besonderer
Berücksichtigung rechtshistorischer
Fragestellungen, AOAT 51,
Münster 2012 (forthcoming).
Paulus 2012b
S. Paulus, The Babylonian
Kudurru-inscriptions – treated
with special regard to legal and
social historical implications,
in Karduniash. K. Sternitzke,
A. Bartelmus, M. Roaf (eds.)
(forthcoming).
Paulus 2012c
S. Paulus, Vom babylonischen
Königssiegel und gesiegelten
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Representation and Symbols of
Power in the Ancient Near East.
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Wilhelm (ed.), Winona Lake
2012, 357-367.
Pedersén 1998
O. Pedersén, Archives and
Libraries in the Ancient Near East
1500-300 B.C., Bethesda 1998.
Pedersén 2005
O. Pedersén, Archive und
Bibliotheken in Babylon. Die
Tontafeln der Grabung Robert
Koldeweys 1899-1917, ADOG 25,
Saarbücken 2005.
Petschow 1939
H. P. H. Petschow,
Die neubabylonischen
Kaufformulare, Leipziger
rechtswissenschaftliche Studien
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Beiträgen zum mittelbabylonischen
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Sklavenkaufverträge des
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«OrNS» 52, 1983, 143-155.
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D. T. Potts, The Archaeology
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Classical Greece
107
les archives de la cité de raison...
Occupant une place centrale dans l’histoire ancienne, la cité grecque continue
de faire débat, sur fond de tradition historiographique nationale différente,
comme le résume Oswyn Murray. «Pour les Allemands, on ne peut parler de la
polis que dans un manuel de droit constitutionnel; la polis française est une sorte
d’eucharistie; la polis anglaise est un accident historique; la polis américaine,
enfin, combine les pratiques de la Mafia et les principes de justice et de liberté
individuelle»
1
. Deux grandes approches se distinguent toutefois. La première
peut être qualifiée d’institutionnelle. Elle réduit l’étude du politique à celle des
institutions politiques. Depuis une quinzaine d’années, elle oriente les travaux
du Copenhagen Polis Centre autour de l’historien Mogens H. Hansen. La deuxième
se revendique de l’anthropologie, invitant à dépasser la séparation entre société et
politique. Naturellement, les nuances sont multiples et les nouvelles approches
se succèdent à un rythme soutenu. Parmi celles-ci, il convient de distinguer la
piste ouverte par Vincent Azoulay et Paulin Ismard, qu’ils nomment la cité en cir-
culation
2
. Il s’agit de raisonner en tenant compte des différentes échelles du poli-
tique. Paulin Ismard a mis en œuvre une telle approche dans son récent ouvrage,

1 Murray 1992, 15.
2 Azoulay & Ismard 2007.
christophe pébarthe
Les archives de la cité de raison.
Démocratie athénienne
et pratiques documentaires
à l’époque classique
108
La cité des réseaux. Athènes et ses associations VI
ème
-I
er
siècle av. J.-C. (2010), se proposant
de réfléchir «aux échelles de fonctionnement de la société civique athénienne»
3
.
Selon l’approche traditionnelle, les associations, en particulier les dèmes et
les phratries, sont des cités en réduction, diffusant auprès des citoyens la culture
démocratique
4
. Dès lors, elles ne participent pas activement à la construction de
l’identité civique. Or, des recherches récentes remettent en cause cette approche.
Dans son livre sur Salamine, Martha Taylor établit ce qu’elle nomme la carte non-
officielle de l’Attique, à travers l’étude de cette île qui fonctionne comme un dème
sans en être un
5
. Le citoyen habitant Salamine est à la fois un Salaminien et un
co-démote sur le continent puisqu’il est inscrit dans un dème territorial comme
tous ses concitoyens. Plus généralement, l’archéologie dessine «une cité décen-
tralisée, ouverte, caractérisée par une grande fluidité entre différentes identi-
tés sociales qui, conjointement, participent à la définition de la citoyenneté.
Les espaces et les pratiques du politique y trouvent une expression singulière-
ment élargie»
6
. Cette approche semble contredire le modèle défendu par Oswyn
Murray, celui d’une cité de raison dont la cohérence institutionnelle témoigne-
rait d’un haut degré de rationalité. Elle tourne ainsi le dos aux catégories webe-
riennes pour s’inscrire dans le holisme de Durkheim
7
. Les institutions politiques
ne sauraient être comprises en dehors des interactions sociales. Il faudrait alors
privilégier la fluidité des identités multiples à la rigidité du statut.
Pour autant, les différentes réformes, à commencer par celle de Clisthène
– qu’il en fut l’auteur, unique ou non, importe peu ici – dessinent une organisa-
tion qui n’est pas dépourvue d’une certaine rationalité. Elles sont sensées appor-
ter progressivement plus de cohérence, en contradiction avec le modèle durkhei-
mien qui postule un accroissement de l’incohérence correspondant à l’ajout de
nouveaux critères aux anciens qui ne disparaissent pas. Cette cohérence est tou-
tefois étonnante car elle semble procéder de la volonté du réformateur, comme
s’il avait prévu les effets de sa réforme. Quoi qu’il en soit, elle serait la preuve d’un
haut niveau de rationalité, tant dans les motivations du changement que dans
ses conséquences. Pour Murray, la rupture est à chercher au VI
ème
siècle avec les
réorganisations des corps civiques
8
. Les réformes qui se produisent modifient le

3 Ismard 2010, 28.
4 Cf. en particulier Whitehead 1986 et Lambert 1998.
5 Taylor 1997.
6 Azoulay & Ismard 2007, 303.
7 Pour Max Weber (Économie et société, chap. 6), les cités grecques ont inventé le politique, au
sens où elles l'ont distingué, rendu autonome par rapport aux autres sphères d'activité.
8 Globalement néanmoins, Oswyn Murray insiste sur la continuité. «La cité grecque est
une cité de raison parce que l’homme grec est un animal politique, et cela dès Homère; nous
pouvons retracer l’évolution, mais elle représente non pas un changement de nature, d’un type
d’organisation social à un autre, mais l’évolution rationnelle d’un système dont le caractère fon-
damental n’a pas changé» (Murray 1992, 33).
109
les archives de la cité de raison...
nombre, la composition et les fonctions sociales des tribus. «Il est évident que les
changements introduits par Clisthène à Athènes impliquaient une révision fon-
damentale des fonctions des institutions sociales à tous les niveaux, et un haut
degré de rationalité pour élaborer un nouveau système d’unités corrélées; le fait
que les noms paraissent traditionnels et que l’on invoque la sanction religieuse
ne doit pas masquer la nature radicale de cette expérience de restructuration du
corps civique tout entier»
9
.
Le débat est donc loin d’être tranché et sans doute doit-il être abordé de façon
différente
10
. Il sera ici discuté à l’aune des pratiques documentaires qui consti-
tuent assurément une perspective intéressante. D’abord, leur étude permet
d’envisager une autorité collective durable et complexe sans bureaucratie pro-
fessionnelle, sans fonctionnaires. Il ne saurait donc être question de s’en tenir à
Max Weber sur ce point. Ensuite, l’insistance sur le fonctionnement concret de la
polis interroge à nouveaux frais le degré de conscience des citoyens, en particulier
lorsqu’il s’agissait de mettre en place de nouvelles institutions ou d’élaborer de
grandes réformes. En raison des sources dont nous disposons, en raison égale-
ment de la superficie de son territoire, Athènes paraît toute indiquée pour poser
la question du degré de rationalité de l’organisation institutionnelle d’une cité.
Avant de décrire dans quelle mesure les pratiques documentaires athéniennes
permettent une interaction entre les institutions centrales, Boulè notamment, et
les associations, en particulier les dèmes, il est cependant nécessaire de rappeler
que la démocratie n’est pas le produit de l’écriture.
1.
Le discours politique athénien associe-t-il l’écriture et la démocratie? La ques-
tion mérite d’être posée tant les historiens ont eu tendance soit à considérer
cette association comme un fait, par anachronisme incontrôlé, soit au contraire
à réduire le recours à l’écriture comme une pratique de pouvoir, l’exercice d’une
domination
11
. Cette dernière thèse fut celle, en son temps, de Claude Lévi-Strauss
dans ses Tristes Tropiques
12
. Pour l’Antiquité, plusieurs travaux d’historiens ont
repris à leur compte cette réflexion
13
. Deborah Steiner insiste sur le fait que l’écri-

9 Murray 1992, 27.
10 La réflexion de Cornelius Castoriadis, largement méconnue par la grande majorité des his-
toriens, évite de nombreuses chausses-trappes épistémologiques (cf. Pébarthe 2012).
11 Cf. notamment Harvey 1966.
12 Chapitre 28: «Leçon d’écriture».
13 Steiner 1994, 242-251 analyse le rapport à l’écriture de Rousseau (Sur l’origine des langues
et Le contrat social) et cherche des similitudes avec les Anciens. Les travaux de R. Thomas ont
pris en considération cette association entre pouvoir et écriture sans toutefois intégrer les
inscriptions. «Writing is perhaps most immediately connected with power in relation to
110
ture distingue les Grecs des Barbares, les démocrates des tyrans, ceux qui parlent
de ceux qui écrivent
14
. Elle analyse l’œuvre d’Eschyle, Les Suppliantes, dans cette
perspective. L’affichage des décisions populaires est opposé au rouleau de papy-
rus scellé, deux types d’écriture sont distingués
15
. La tablette écrite affichée est
également pensée comme le résultat d’une parole libre. À l’origine de la décision,
il y a une prise de parole que retranscrit la notice. «In a democracy […], speech
is the primary means of conducting business»
16
. Cela s’oppose presque terme à
terme avec la réalité orientale décrite par Hérodote. Par exemple, après chaque
conquête, Sésostris faisait inscrire un pilier avec son nom, celui de son pays et le
fait qu’il ait conquis cette terre par la force. Pour les peuples les plus couards, il
fait ajouter une représentation d’organes génitaux féminins
17
. Par l’inscription,
les monarques orientaux commémorent, mais aussi affirment, leur droit de
conquête, leur possession. L’écriture sert à borner un territoire, à l’aide de horoi
qui proclament l’asservissement des populations
18
. Pour autant, dans l’Athènes
pré-solonienne, de telles bornes ont existé pour rendre publique la dépendance
de certains paysans. La période tyrannique permet-elle une identique associa-
tion entre écriture et pouvoir?
La tyrannie des Pisistratides a semble-t-il engendré très peu de documents of-
ficiels. Selon la Constitution des Athéniens, Pisistrate se serait fait accorder un corps
de gardes par l’assemblée
19
. Inscription ou tradition orale? Aucune source ne per-
met d’affirmer l’existence d’une publication des décisions prises par les Pisistra-
tides. S’ils ont recouru à un tel affichage, il est concevable qu’ils aient lié leurs ins-
criptions avec les bâtiments qu’ils faisaient par ailleurs construire. Cependant,
des documents épigraphiques de cette époque, c. 550, ont été retrouvés qui, sans
être des décrets, sont bien des écritures publiques
20
. Ils concernent l’organisation
des Panathénées. À ce titre, ils donnent le titre et le nom des magistrats. Ils sont
une trace de l’administration de la cité à l’époque archaïque. Peut-on alors accep-
ter que les documents épigraphiques évoqués ici ne constituent pas une mani-

the state and its records: one thinks, for example, of the state lists of citizens (…) or records of
taxes» (Thomas 1994, 33). Toutefois, selon elle, cela ne concernerait pas directement la Grèce
ancienne. «Records, if kept at all, tended to be slight, disorganised and in any case largely un-
centralised» (Ibid., 34). Sans doute a-t-elle à l’esprit, l’utilisation des archives dans les monar-
chies orientales telle qu’elle apparaît dans le témoignage d’Hérodote (Steiner 1994, 142-149).
14 Cf. Steiner 1994, 127-185, particulièrement p. 166-174.
15 Cf. Steiner 1994, 168.
16 Steiner 1994, 169.
17 Voir Hdt. 2.102-106 et Diod. 1.55.7, avec le commentaire de Steiner 1994, 128-129.
18 Dans l’Athènes pré-solonienne, il semble bien que de telles bornes aient existé pour rendre
publique la dépendance de certains paysans. Cela montre bien qu’il est réducteur de vouloir
associer mécaniquement l’écriture à un effet social donné.
19 Arist., Ath. Pol., 14.1.
20 IG I
3
, 507-509 avec le commentaire de Stroud 1978, 28.
111
les archives de la cité de raison...
festation publique d’archives? L’entreprise de mise par écrit du droit entreprise
par Solon et auparavant par Dracon, la conservation d’archives judiciaires par les
thesmothètes inviteraient plutôt à répondre par la négative.
Un type particulier d’inscriptions et de support est attesté pour l’Athènes des
Pisistratides, des statues d’Hermès implantées dans toute l’Attique
21
. Celles-ci
sont connues des lexicographes comme Hésychios et Harpocration. Toutefois, la
source la plus ancienne et la plus complète sur ces Hermès, l’Hipparque, un dia-
logue apocryphe de Platon, date du IV
ème
siècle
22
. Parmi les mérites du fils de Pisis-
trate, Socrate cite la volonté éducative, à l’aide d’hermès installés dans l’ensemble
de l’Attique qui portaient des maximes delphiques:
Il forma le projet de faire alors l’éducation des campagnards. Dans ce but, il fit dresser
pour eux des hermès sur les routes entre la ville et les différents dèmes; puis, dans
le trésor de ses propres connaissances, celles qu’il avait apprises et celles qu’il avait
découvertes, choisissant les pensées qu’il jugeait les plus sages, il les mit lui-même en
vers élégiaques et fit graver ses poèmes comme documents de sa sagesse; ainsi, tout
d’abord, ses concitoyens n’auraient plus à admirer les sages inscriptions du temple de
Delphes, comme ‘Connais-toi toi-même’, ‘Pas d’excès’ et d’autres de ce genre, mais ils
estimeraient plus sages les préceptes d’Hipparque; de plus, dans leurs allées et venues,
lisant ses maximes de sagesse et y prenant goût, ils multiplieraient leurs visites afin
de compléter leur instruction. Il y avait deux inscriptions: sur celle du côté gauche
de chaque hermès, une inscription fait dire à Hermès qu’il est situé entre la ville et le
dème; sur celle du côté droit, il proclame: ‘Ceci est un monument d’Hipparque: marche
dans des sentiments de justice’
23
.
Trois finalités distinctes apparaissent pour ces inscriptions: éduquer les pay-
sans de l’Attique, transmettre un goût de la sagesse et une volonté d’améliorer
cette dernière et louer la sagesse d’Hipparque en lieu et place de celle de Delphes.
Le recours à l’écrit s’avérait indispensable pour une entreprise d’une telle am-
pleur. Nous possédons une borne qui daterait de cette époque, ce qui invalide-
rait la thèse des historiens qui mettent en question la véracité de cet extrait de
l’Hipparque
24
.

21 Cf. Harrison 1965, 108-117, particulièrement 113-114; Lewis 1988, 292 et 293 fig. 29;
Shapiro 1989, 125-132, en particulier p. 125-126, et Parker 1996, 80-83.
22 Plat., Hipp., 228b-229d. Arist., Ath. Pol., 18.1 donne des indications complémentaires.
Rogue 2001, 245-249 a défendu le premier tiers du IV
e
s. comme date de ce dialogue apo-
cryphe. L’Hipparque a souvent été vu comme un dialogue sans portée historique, par exemple
Schnapp-Gourbeillon 1988. Mais sur le point qui nous intéresse à présent, les hermès, il
convient de ne pas négliger ce témoignage.
23 Plat., Hipp., 228d-229a (traduction CUF). Sur la véracité de cette anecdote, cf. Jensen 1980.
24 IG I
3
, 1023: «À mi-distance entre Képhalè et la ville, le splendide Hermès». Cf. Shapiro 1989,
125-132; Lewis 1988, 292 et 293 fig. 29. La datation retenue, 525-514, procède d’une association
directe entre ce document et les décisions prises par Hipparque telle que le texte du dialogue
platonicien l’indique. Il convient donc d’adopter la plus grande prudence à son sujet.
112
D’autres documents sont associés à la tyrannie des Pisistratides. Hérodote
mentionne une collection d’oracles sur l’Acropole. Leur origine n’est pas connue
avec certitude. Oracles de la Pythie, prédiction d’Athéna? Quoi qu’il en soit,
l’oracle écrit fondait le pouvoir du tyran. Une fonction analogue peut être prêtée
aux poèmes homériques. Ceux-ci auraient été mis par écrit, par Pisistrate ou par
l’un de ses fils, Hipparque:
Entre autres preuves nombreuses et remarquables de sagesse, il introduisit le premier
dans ce pays les poèmes d’Homère et obligea les rhapsodes à les réciter aux Panathé-
nées, les uns après les autres sans interruption, ce qu’ils font encore aujourd’hui
25
.
Le texte ainsi établi devait être conservé afin d’être récité, ce qui faisait de ce
document conservé la version officielle des poèmes homériques. Il est tentant
d’associer cette édition et la réforme des Panathénées, du moins la fête en elle-
même devenue un concours athlétique panhellénique. Dans ce cadre, la récita-
tion de la version de référence des poèmes homériques prend tout son sens
26
.
Elle était un signe indéniable de puissance. Les tyrans maîtrisaient la tradition
et pouvaient surtout l’invoquer avec précision lors de contestations politiques.
D’une certaine manière, ils apposaient leur sceau sur les poèmes homériques. À
l’instar de Théognis de Mégare, ils scellaient un texte, c’est-à-dire un contenu et
non l’identité d’un auteur
27
. Il est ainsi difficile de parler de tyrannie de l’écriture
pour l’Athènes archaïque, même s’il y a un usage spécifique au tyran de l’écriture,
une écriture des tyrans.
De même, il n’est pas possible de relier l’avènement de la démocratie à la crois-
sance de l’alphabétisation
28
. À Athènes, celle-ci est manifestement antérieure.
Dès l’époque de Clisthène, avant donc la période démocratique stricto sensu, la
pratique de l’écriture doit être considérée comme majoritaire dans le groupe
des adultes libres mâles. La réforme censitaire de Solon impliquait sans doute
déjà un recours, même faible à l’écriture, donc une alphabétisation minimale.
Diodore fait mention d’une loi solonienne qui, à l’imitation d’une disposition
égyptienne, exigerait des citoyens une déclaration écrite de leur fortune, le verbe
utilisé est apographesthai:

25 Plat., Hipp., 228b (traduction CUF); voir aussi Ael., V.H., 8. 2. Par cette citation tronquée, nous
n’échappons pas à la critique faite par Schnapp-Gourbeillon 1988, 806-807 qui considère que
si l’extrait concernant les poèmes homériques est souvent commenté, le reste est le plus sou-
vent laissé de côté. On ne cherche pas à donner un sens à l’ensemble. Les historiens ne courent-
ils pas alors le risque de négliger le contexte général? L’historienne le pense et préfère analy-
ser le passage dans sa globalité comme «une fable certes, qui illustre une conception du Sage
Autocrate, mais aussi comme un ensemble articulé sur la fonction de la poésie dans la cité, où
Homère joue alors un rôle prépondérant, mais non unique» (p. 807).
26 Cf. Aloni 1997, 171-174.
27 Sur le sceau de Théognis et le parallèle avec la politique culturelle d’Hipparque, cf. Ford 1985.
28 Cf. Pébarthe 2006.
113
les archives de la cité de raison...
Il était enjoint à tout Égyptien de déposer auprès des magistrats une déclaration écrite
sur les sources de ses revenus, et quiconque faisait une fausse déclaration à ce sujet
ou se procurait des gains illicites devait être condamné à mort. On dit que cette loi fut
apportée à Athènes par Solon à la suite de son voyage en Égypte
29
.
Il semble s’inspirer d’Hérodote:
C’est Amasis qui imposa cette loi aux Égyptiens: que tout Égyptien, chaque année,
fît connaître au nomarque ses moyens d’existence; que quiconque ne le ferait pas et
ne justifierait pas de ressources honnêtes serait puni de mort. Solon d’Athènes a pris
cette loi en Égypte pour l’établir chez les Athéniens; et ceux-ci l’observent à tout jamais,
comme une loi parfaite
30
.
L’historien d’Halicarnasse utilise deux verbes, apophanein et apodeiknynai, qui
n’impliquent pas nécessairement le recours à l’écrit
31
. Une déclaration orale de-
vant un magistrat compétent serait donc une autre possibilité que l’écriture. À
partir du moment où la pratique de l’écriture est répandue au VI
ème
siècle, il paraît
difficile de s'en tenir à la stricte oralité. Dès avant Clisthène donc, la réalisation de
listes à finalité censitaire paraît hautement probable.
Si l'on se tourne vers les discours athéniens anciens à présent, l'association
entre écriture et démocratie n'est pas évidente non plus. Les sources ne men-
tionnent ainsi jamais l'accès libre et direct à l’information. Elles évoquent en
revanche le droit écrit qui constituerait une garantie contre l'arbitraire. Lorsque
Thésée compare la démocratie et la tyrannie dans son dialogue avec le héraut de
Thèbes, il affirme:
Pour un peuple il n’est rien de pire qu’un tyran. Sous ce régime, pas de lois faites pour
tous. Un seul homme gouverne, et la loi, c’est sa chose. Donc, plus d’égalité, tandis que
sous l’empire de lois écrites, pauvres et riches ont mêmes droits
32
.
Mais le même personnage rappelle:
Quant à la liberté, elle est dans ces paroles: ‘Qui veut, qui peut donner un avis sage à
sa patrie?’ Lors, à son gré, chacun peut briller… ou se taire. Peut-on imaginer plus belle
égalité?
33
.
L’oralité serait-elle donc démocratique?

29 Diod. 1.77.5 (traduction CUF).
30 Hdt. 2.177 (trad. CUF).
31 Sickinger 1999, 35. Il en conclut qu’il n’est pas possible d’analyser ces deux passages.
32 Eur., Suppl., 429-434 (traduction CUF). De même, Cléon défend la fixité des lois (Thuc. 3.37).
33 Eur., Suppl., 438-441 (traduction CUF).
114
C’est alors Platon qui intervient pour apporter de la complexité à ce débat.
Il oppose en effet dans le Politique la loi (nomos) comme droit écrit, à la parole
vivante, la rigidité à l’évolution:
La loi ne pourrait jamais embrasser avec exactitude ce qui est le meilleur et le plus
juste pour tous au même instant, et prescrire ainsi ce qui est le mieux. Car les dissi-
militudes sont telles entre les hommes et entre les actions, sans compter que presque
jamais aucune des affaires humaines ne demeure pour ainsi dire en repos, que cela in-
terdit à toute technique de prendre un parti simple qui vaudrait, en quelque domaine
que ce soit, pour tous les cas et pour toujours
34
.
L’exposition de cette limite intrinsèque de la loi n’est évidemment pas destinée à
valoriser le débat au sein d’une assemblée:
Il est bien clair que, d’une certaine façon, la législation relève de la fonction royale.
Mais ce qui vaut le mieux, ce n’est pas que les lois prévalent, mais que prévale le roi qui
est un homme réfléchi
35
.
Autrement dit, pour Platon, l’écriture n’est qu’un pis-aller, permettant d’éviter
les errements démocratiques. En l’absence d’un citoyen politique (aner politikos),
c’est-à-dire d’un citoyen royal, la rigidité des lois écrites, dont la rédaction doit
être confiée à des individus possédant l’epistemè politique, garantit à la cité une
certaine stabilité
36
. L’oralité n’est valorisée que pour le basileus, qui peut, par son
savoir, s’affranchir des lois, lorsque bon lui semble. Néanmoins, il convient de ne
pas accorder une importance trop grande à la pensée platonicienne car comme
le souligne Cornelius Castoriadis, «Platon a joué un rôle tout à fait considérable
dans ce qu’on peut appeler la destruction du monde grec»
37
.
Il faut donc abandonner toute relation univoque entre l’écriture et la nature
du régime politique d’une cité. Le questionnement se déplace alors et porte sur
le rôle des pratiques documentaires dans l’organisation de la cité athénienne,
plus précisément dans la relation entre le centre (assemblée, conseil, magistrats)
et les multiples périphéries (dèmes, phratries…). Dans la perspective de l’éven-
tuelle mise au jour d’un processus de rationalisation institutionnelle, il convient
d’analyser à présent le moment clisthénien en gardant à l’esprit la distinction sur
laquelle Pierre Bourdieu a attiré l’attention, entre la logique pratique et la logique
logique. Il privilégie la première car la seconde amène à appliquer un raisonne-
ment extérieur à l’objet étudié. «Les logiques pratiques – des institutions, des pra-
tiques humaines – doivent être constituées dans leur spécificité, une des erreurs

34 Plat., Pol., 294a-b (trad. Brisson et Pradeau).
35 Plat., Pol., 294a (trad. Brisson et Pradeau).
36 Nous faisons le choix ici de traduire aner politikos par citoyen politique. L’expression
«homme politique» est assurément source d’erreurs, tant elle suggère un groupe, celui des
professionnels de la politique, alors que Platon pose une question anthropologique.
37 Castoriadis 1999, 21.
115
les archives de la cité de raison...
scientifiques majeures dans les sciences historiques consiste à être plus rigoureux
que l’objet, à mettre plus de rigueur dans le discours sur l’objet qu’il n’y en a dans
l’objet, de manière à être en règle avec les exigences de rigueur qui sont de mise,
non pas dans l’objet, mais dans le champ de production de discours sur l’objet»
38
.
2.
À l’aune du chapitre 42 de l’Athenaion Politeia, permanence et centralité dominent
la citoyenneté athénienne. Dèmes et phratries ne sont alors envisagés que
comme des subdivisions civiques, et ce, dès Clisthène, sans évolution. Ce der-
nier apparaît alors comme un créateur dont les historiens prétendent mesurer
le degré d’innovation – et partant de là, le degré de rationalité – en recourant à
une approche dialectique, entre rupture et continuité. Selon Paulin Ismard, «[la
réforme de Clisthène] organisait la hiérarchisation et l’articulation d’une série
de communautés invitées à intégrer une architecture civique renouvelée»
39
. Ce
point est d’autant plus important que la citoyenneté continue de reposer sur
cette organisation communautaire jusqu’à la loi de Périclès (451/0). Le même
historien qualifie alors la cité de corporatiste, «si on comprend par là que les ins-
truments juridiques de contrôle de la citoyenneté par les instances centrales de
la cité sont inexistants»
40
. Il n’y aurait donc pas de rupture à la fin du VI
ème
siècle,
les communautés anciennes ne céderaient pas leur place à une politeia ration-
nelle. Le processus de contrôle civique des associations serait progressif. L’oc-
troi de la citoyenneté serait donc de la seule responsabilité des phratries et des
dèmes. L’examen des pratiques documentaires amène toutefois à nuancer cette
approche.
À la fin de la tyrannie, en 510, un diapsêphismos fut organisé pour rayer tous
ceux qui n’auraient pas dû être citoyens. L’Athenaion Politeia (13.5) rapporte que
Pisistrate fut soutenu par des personnes appauvries par la perte de leurs créances
et par des personnes dont la naissance n’était pas pure. Selon Paulin Ismard, la
procédure a recouru à des listes communautaires
41
. Le vocabulaire utilisé serait
anachronique, c’est-à-dire que l’auteur aurait plaqué sur des événements de la
fin du VI
ème
siècle la procédure de la révision des listes qu'il connaissait pour le
IV
ème
siècle
42
. Il est toutefois possible de tirer de cette remarque une autre consé-
quence. La motivation «parce que beaucoup jouissaient indûment de la politeia»
est également anachronique. Elle fait référence à l’esprit des révisions des listes, la

38 Bourdieu 2012, 148.
39 Ismard 2010, 119.
40 Ismard 2010, 119-120.
41 Ismard 2010, 81-83.
42 Ismard 2010, 82 n. 180.
116
vérification que ne bénéficient des privilèges afférants à la citoyenneté que ceux
qui sont citoyens
43
. En 510, il ne s’agit évidemment pas d’aller rechercher ceux
qui, depuis plusieurs dizaines d’années, en l’occurrence leurs enfants ou descen-
dants, vivaient comme des citoyens. Ainsi, il n’y a pas révision mais établissement
d'une liste de citoyens, au moment où une nouvelle définition de la citoyenneté
était établie
44
. Dès lors, le recours ou non à des listes associatives n’est pas la ques-
tion principale. Comment un tel recensement a-t-il pu être organisé?
Il n’est pas possible de répondre à cette question. Toutefois, ce premier re-
censement, qui est une prise de position institutionnelle, due à Isagoras et à
son groupe, permet de comprendre la réaction de Clisthène, une fois parvenu à
prendre le contrôle de la situation
45
. Quelles que fussent ses motivations, il pro-
posa une nouvelle définition du corps civique, en prenant appui, d’une manière
ou d’une autre, sur les Athéniens qui avaient assiégé l’Acropole sur laquelle Cléo-
mène, Isagoras et leurs partisans s’étaient réfugiés
46
. Il est alors possible de pro-
poser la reconstruction suivante
47
. Il fallait d’abord établir la liste des dèmes, puis
la procédure d’enregistrement en leur sein. Les démarques dont l’existence est
attestée en 508/7 paraissent tout désignés pour la mise en œuvre pratique de
cette réforme
48
. Le rassemblement des noms contenus dans les différentes listes
était enfin possible par le biais du Conseil, qui comportait au moins un membre
de chaque dème en son sein
49
. Un document ad hoc fut-il créé à ce moment-là?
Le registre de dème (lêxiarchikon grammateion) apparaît dans les sources au
cours de la deuxième moitié du V
ème
siècle
50
. La première attestation figure dans
un décret instaurant une taxe sur un misthos perçu par des hommes inscrits dans
le registre. Parmi les hypothèses sur l’origine de ce document, l’une met l’accent
sur l’étymologie. Ce document aurait reçu ce nom en raison de la lêxis, le patri-

43 Cf. Pébarthe 2006, 193-196. Le cas de la distribution du blé donné par Psammétique en
445/4 est de ce point de vue significatif.
44 Cf. Pébarthe 2006, 182.
45 Rappelons que peu après la chute d’Hippias, Isagoras aidé de Cléomène fait expulser sept
cents epistia athéniens, souillés (Hdt. 5.72.1).
46 Hdt. 5.72-73.
47 Cf. déjà Pébarthe 2006, 182.
48 Arist., Ath. Pol., 21.5.
49 Nous reviendrons ailleurs sur l’analyse que propose Ismard 2010, 84-121 de la réforme de
Clisthène. Disons simplement ici que nous ne partageons pas son modèle d’auto-organisation,
à savoir le fait que «les différentes communautés de l’Attique archaïque sont certainement les
propres acteurs d’une réforme qui n’a fait qu’intégrer dans une architecture administrative
commune des groupes qui avaient souvent une existence très ancienne» (Ismard 2010, 119).
Pour autant, il ne saurait être question de lui opposer «l’instauration d’une centralité civique»
(p. 120). Cette alternative ne permet tout simplement pas de comprendre cette réforme. Les
lecteurs de Cornelius Castoriadis y verront les conséquences d’une lecture qui en reste à la seule
dimension ensembliste-identitaire (pour une première approche, cf. Pébarthe 2012).
50 IG I
3
, 138.
117
les archives de la cité de raison...
moine. N’y seraient inscrits dès lors que ceux qui disposaient d’une fortune mi-
nimale. D’autres préfèrent évoquer le lêxiarchos, un magistrat chargé de vérifier
la qualité des participants de l’assemblée. Ces deux options ne sont pas irrécon-
ciliables du reste. La nature censitaire de la politeia impliquait un recensement
régulier des fortunes. Il n’y a pas de raison a priori de considérer que les thètes
n’étaient pas inscrits. Avec la mise en place de l’armée civique, celle qui combat
victorieusement à Marathon, un recensement paraît essentiel. Le dème apparaît
alors comme l’échelon institutionnel pertinent, dans une cité sans administra-
tion et sans fonctionnaires, pour mener à bien cette procédure et pour en trans-
mettre le résultat aux institutions centrales. L’articulation entre les dèmes et la
Boulè est vraisemblablement un élément déterminant pour en comprendre les
ressorts pratiques. Dès avant 451 donc, l’octroi de la citoyenneté est l’affaire du
centre
51
. Si la loi de Périclès donnait aux phratries la responsabilité de l’établis-
sement de la filiation, l’inscription dans le dème demeurait indispensable
52
. Elle
n’est pas déléguée sans contrôle aux associations. Il serait naturellement erroné
de déduire une rationalisation de ce recours à l’écriture, puisqu’il manifeste au
contraire une rationalité organisationnelle en acte
53
.
Celle-ci est mieux connue pour le IV
ème
siècle, notamment grâce aux plai-
doyers attiques qui rapportent plusieurs tentatives de fraude dans les inscrip-
tions dans les registres
54
. Deux registres apparaissent décisifs, le registre de
dème et le registre de phratrie. Ce dernier est mentionné dans le Contre Léocharès:
N’ayant pu obtenir d’être inscrit lui-même, il institue son fils au mépris des lois,
comme fils adoptif d’Archiadès, avant que le dème eût procédé à l’examen; il ne l’avait
pas introduit dans la phratrie d’Archiadès: c’est seulement après qu’il eût été inscrit
au dème que, de connivence avec un des phratères, il le fit inscrire au registre de la
phratrie
55
.
La procédure d’inscription est décrite longuement dans un discours d’Isée:
Ces associations [génè et phratries] ont une règle uniforme: quand un homme leur
présente un enfant né de lui ou adopté par lui, il doit jurer, en posant la main sur les
victimes, que l’enfant présenté est né d’une citoyenne, mariée légitimement, aussi
bien s’il s’agit de son propre enfant que d’un enfant adopté. Quand le père a prêté ce
serment, les autres membres n’en procèdent pas moins à un vote; si la décision est
favorable, on inscrit l’enfant sur le registre de la communauté, mais jamais avant le
vote. Telles sont les formalités minutieuses qu’imposent les statuts de ces confréries.

51 Contra Ismard 2010, 122-128 sur la loi de Périclès (451/0).
52 Ismard 2010, 125.
53 Castoriadis ne pense pas que la cité est première, c’est-à-dire qu’elle précède la raison («fille
de la cité», pour Vernant). «La constitution de la communauté politique est déjà de la philoso-
phie en acte» (Castoriadis 2004, 59).
54 Cf. Pébarthe 2006, 203-206.
55 Dém. 44.41.
118
Or, tel étant le règlement, les membres de la phratrie et du génos, parce qu’ils avaient
toute confiance en Apollodôros et qu’ils me connaissaient comme fils de sa sœur,
m’inscrivirent sur le registre après un vote unanime et après le serment prêté par
Apollodôros sur les victimes. C’est ainsi que, de son vivant, j’ai été adopté par lui et ins-
crit au registre de la communauté sous le nom de Thrasyllos, fils d’Apollodôros, lequel
Apollodôros m’a adopté selon cette voie, comme les lois l’y autorisaient
56
.
L’hésitation concernant le registre, celui du genos ou celui de la phratrie, importe
peu ici. Le caractère décisif de l’inscription dans un document est significatif. Du
reste, le même Thrasyllos, après avoir pris un nouveau patronyme témoignant de
son adoption (première inscription), tente de se faire inscrire dans le registre de
dème dans lequel son père adoptif figure:
Avant mon retour des fêtes de la Pythaïde, Apollodôros déclara aux gens du dème qu’il
m’avait adopté et fait inscrire dans le génos et la phratrie, qu’il m’instituait son héritier
et il leur recommanda, s’il lui arrivait auparavant malheur, de m’inscrire dans le re-
gistre du dème sous le nom de Thrasyllos, fils d’Apollodôros, et de n’y point manquer
57
.
Mais il est ici simplement question du dème ou de la phratrie. Quel rôle jouait les
institutions centrales? Ces documents n’avaient-ils qu’une réalité locale?
En raison de la conscription, de la fiscalité (eisphora) ou bien encore plus sim-
plement de la participation à l’assemblée, le démarque, responsable de l’inscrip-
tion dans le registre et responsable du registre lui-même, doit être considéré
comme un agent des institutions centrales de la cité
58
. Le Contre Léocharès permet
de décrire avec précision l’importance du lêxiarchikon grammateion. Le plaideur,
Aristodèmos, dispute à Léocharès la succession d’Archiadès. Ce dernier, décédé
sans enfant, a donné par adoption ses biens à Léocratès (I) qui les a transmis à
son fils Léostratos qui, de son vivant, fait de même avec son enfant Léocratès (II).
Celui-ci meurt sans enfant et la succession échoue à Léocharès, son frère. Dans
l’épisode qui nous intéresse, Léocratès (I) tente à tout prix d’être démote à Otrynè
ce qui lui permettrait de revendiquer à bon droit et au titre de l’adoption les biens
d’Archiadès inscrit dans ce même dème:
D’abord, s’étant présenté au dème d’Otrynè, il se disposait à se faire inscrire sur le ta-
bleau des membres de l’assemblée, lui qui était du dème d’Éleusis; puis, avant même
son inscription sur le registre des démotes, à participer aux affaires du dème
59
.
Si Léocharès tente de se faire inscrire sur le pinax ecclêsiastikos, c’est parce que le
registre de dème n’est pas encore ouvert. Il entend donc vivre comme un démote

56 Is., Apol., 7.16-17 (trad. CUF).
57 Is., Apol., 7. 27 (trad. CUF).
58 Nous avons déjà développé ce point dans Pébarthe 2006, en particulier p. 206-222.
59 Dém., Leo., 44.35 (trad. CUF modifiée).
119
les archives de la cité de raison...
afin que son inscription, le moment venu, relève de l’évidence
60
. L’ouverture a
lieu au moment des Grandes Panathénées, sans doute en présence de très nom-
breux démotes attestant ainsi la régularité de l’inscription et plus généralement
la véracité des informations contenues dans le registre.
À cette occasion, grâce à sa liste, le démarque vérifiait l’identité de ceux qui
allaient percevoir le théorique (que Léocharès tente de toucher), ce qui consti-
tuerait une preuve effective de son adoption. Ensuite, il faut garder à l’esprit
l’organisation des Panathénées au cours desquelles les participants se rendaient
au Céramique pour le début de la grande procession par dème à la tête duquel se
trouvait le démarque. Un complément d’informations peut être trouvé dans un
décret de 335/4-330/29 qui réglemente les fêtes annuelles, les Petites Panathé-
nées
61
. Les hieropoioi sont chargés de répartir la viande provenant du sacrifice ‘aux
Athéniens dans le Céramique, comme dans les autres distributions de viande’ ,
et de ‘répartir les parts pour chaque dème en proportion du nombre de leurs par-
ticipants à la procession’
62
. Cela signifie que chaque dème détermine le nombre
des participants et que les démarques ont la charge de répartir la viande entre
chaque individu. «The demarchs’ diakosmesis was doubtless necessary not only
for the ordering of the procession but also to assist the hieropoioi in identifying
by deme those who were to be allotted their meat»
63
. À cette occasion également,
était versé le theorikon
64
. Dès lors, le passage du Contre Léocharès prend tout son
sens
65
. L’ouverture du registre lors des Grandes Panathénées — ou des Petites —
se faisait parce qu’une fois la liste originale révisée, le démarque distribuait le
théorique et s’assurait du droit de chacun à la perception de la viande
66
. Par ses
archives, il veillait donc à ce que la cité ne versât pas indûment une indemnité
qui rendait effective la citoyenneté et plus important encore, il était le garant du
droit des citoyens à partager le sacrifice et par là il assurait la cohésion civique.
La procédure décrite met en évidence l’importance du registre et le rôle déter-
minant du démarque. Pour autant, l’articulation avec les institutions centrales
peine à apparaître, sinon sous forme de déduction logique. L’étude de la réforme

60 On peut évoquer comme parallèle «l’anoblissement taisible», bien connu des historiens de
la France moderne.
61 Rhodes & Osborne, n° 81.
62 Rhodes & Osborne, n° 81, l. 24-27: vc]µovtav tz ×çcz ta: 8¸µa: ta: Aиvz:av cv [Kc-
çzµc:×a ]: ×zÐzncç cv tz:; zììz:; ×çczvoµ:z:; zn[ovcµc:v 8c ] tz; µcç:8z; c:; tov 8¸µov
c×zotov ×ztz [toc; ncµnov]tz; onoooc; zv nzçc¿¸: o 8¸µo; c×zoto;.
63 Whitehead 1986, 137.
64 Pélékidis 1962, 90-91 et Faraguna 1997, 15.
65 Dém., Leo., 44.37.
66 Cette idée de l’ouverture se retrouve dans Is., Apol., 7. 27 lorsqu’Apollodôros fait savoir aux
démotes son intention de leur présenter Thrasyllos comme son fils adoptif et de le faire ins-
crire. Cette question est traitée au moment de l’assemblée électorale du dème, c’est-à-dire au
début de l’année civique.
120
fiscale de 378/7, corrélée avec celle de la réforme de Périandre (358/7), permet
de saisir la place décisive qu’occupaient les documents provenant des dèmes
dans le fonctionnement quasi quotidien de la cité. Une bonne partie du débat
se concentre autour d’un extrait du Contre Polyclès dans lequel une procédure
semble-t-il particulière est décrite pour 362:
Vous aviez décidé que, pour chaque dème, les démarques et les bouleutes dresseraient
la liste des démotes propriétaires et des citoyens soumis à l’enktètikon qui seraient
appelés à payer d’avance pour les autres: je fus inscrit dans trois dèmes car ma fortune
est bien visible
67
.
Trois éléments introduisent une différence avec le déroulement habituel du pré-
lèvement de l’eisphora
68
. Les Trois Cents n’apparaissent pas et la désignation des
proeispherontes ne semble survenir qu’au moment de l’eisphora
69
. L’orateur semble
indiquer qu’en temps normal les dèmes jouaient un rôle dans la perception de
cette taxe. Aucune mention de deux autres proeispherontes qui auraient versé une
partie de la somme avec Apollodôros n’est faite. S’agit-il pour autant d’une procé-
dure exceptionnelle?
Observons d’emblée que le système décrit évoque très directement la procé-
dure utilisée pour la conscription, en particulier l’association entre le démarque
et les bouleutes. Une différence non négligeable réside néanmoins dans l’asso-
ciation de trois dèmes. Le déroulement semble avoir été le suivant. Une déclara-
tion et/ou une estimation est faite à l’échelle des dèmes. Puis une centralisation
permet de recouper les informations ainsi obtenues. Un passage de Démosthène
laisse en effet deviner une déclaration faite par ses tuteurs en vue de l’eisphora, c:;
to 8¸µoo:ov ct:µ¸ozoÐc
70
. L’expression eis to demosion ne doit vraisemblable-
ment pas être entendue ici comme l’enregistrement dans les archives civiques
mais comme une déclaration faite devant le démarque. Bien entendu, tous
les biens devaient être déclarés, ce qui implique que les démarches pouvaient
concerner plusieurs dèmes. L’hypothèse d’un cadastre est en outre à prendre en
considération
71
. Selon les lexicographes, les démarques faisaient du reste des
apographai des propriétés dans leurs dèmes
72
. La centralisation serait le fait des
démotes-bouleutes.
Il n’en demeure pas moins qu’aucune référence n’est faite aux proeispherontes
dans le Contre Polyclès, ce qui constitue l’argument principal de ceux qui refusent

67 Dém., Pol., 50.8 (trad. CUF modifiée).
68 Wallace 1989, p. 474.
69 De nombreux commentaires ont été faits à propos de l’absence des Trois Cents (cf. Brun
1983, 36 n.3).
70 Dém., C. Aphob. II, 28.8; cf. 11.
71 Faraguna 1997.
72 Dans la Souda comme dans Harpocration, s.v. 8¸µzç¿o;; scholie à un vers d’Aristophane
(Nuées, 37).
121
les archives de la cité de raison...
d’y lire la description de la procédure habituelle. La thèse de Wallace est simple,
«the proeispherontes were never a standing college but were always newly consti-
tuted at the time when an eisphora was required»
73
. Du reste, il était normal de
mettre en place un système qui tenait compte des changements qui pouvaient
intervenir dans les fortunes, dans un sens comme dans l’autre
74
. La mort égale-
ment rendait caduque les listes permanentes
75
. À chaque eisphora, il fallait inté-
grer les exemptions qui avaient pu être obtenues entre temps. Enfin, le volon-
tariat ne doit pas être négligé. Mais alors, quand la révision avait-elle lieu? Une
procédure annuelle serait d’un intérêt limité, notamment avant 347, période au
cours de laquelle il y eut moins d’une année sur deux avec eisphora. Il faut donc
envisager une déclaration individuelle, sur le mode de celle qui est décrite par
Démosthène. Une intervention des démarques, sur la base de leurs informations
cadastrales, n’est de plus pas à exclure.
En dépit du silence relatif des sources, il est intéressant de rappeler comment
ces informations locales, et les documents qui les conservent, participent d’une
organisation centrale. La réforme de 378/7 est en effet précédée d’un recense-
ment des fortunes athéniennes, dont le résultat est mentionné par Polybe, 5 760
talents. C’est à partir de cette opération que les symmories sont constituées.
Deux fragments d’Atthidographes nous renseignent à leur sujet. Le premier est
de Philochoros (fin IV
ème
siècle – début III
ème
siècle):
Les Athéniens furent pour la première fois divisés en symmories sous l'archontat de
Nausinikos, comme le rapporte Philochoros dans le cinquième livre de son Atthis
76
.
Le deuxième est rédigé par Kleidémos (milieu IV
ème
siècle):
Kleidémos rapporte dans son troisième livre que lorsque Clisthène institua les dix tri-
bus à la place des quatre qui existaient auparavant, ils [les Athéniens] furent aussi divi-
sés en cinquante groupes qu'ils appelèrent naucraries, de même que les cent groupes
entre lesquels ils sont actuellement divisés sont appelés symmories
77
.
Les symmories apparaîtraient donc en 378/7 et seraient au nombre de cent
78
. La

73 Wallace 1989, 479. Dém., Phen., 42.3 et 32 montre simplement qu’un homme riche ayant
déjà appartenu aux Trois-Cents est de nouveau intégré dans ce groupe, ce qui n’a rien de surpre-
nant. De même, un autre passage de Démosthène (Dém., Cour., 18.103) qui évoque la continuité
au sein du groupe, s’explique par le petit nombre d’Athéniens capables d’avancer les eisphorai
n’entre pas en contradiction avec le fait que les Trois-Cents sont désignés à chaque levée. Voir
Is., Philok., 6.60.
74 Cf. par exemple Lys., Diog., 32. 25 qui cite un bénéfice de 2 talents sur une seule expédition
maritime.
75 Plat., Lois, 785a-b envisage un système de correction permanente.
76 FGrHist 328 F 41. Trad. Mossé 1979, 32.
77 FGrHist 323 F 8. Trad. Mossé 1979, 32.
78 Ce point a fait l’objet d’importantes discussions.
122
cité pouvait alors exiger le versement des eisphorai en tenant compte du revenu
des contribuables. À l’intérieur de chaque symmorie, un des membres était dési-
gné diagrapheus
79
. Il avait pour charge de répartir entre les différents membres de
la symmorie la charge financière relative à l’eisphora, en fonction de leur timêma
respectif qu’il devait également contrôler, sinon estimer. Pour Matthew Christ,
«if the symmories of 378/7 provided for the first time a mechanism for eliciting
and checking t:µ¸µztz and for allocating tax burdens on this basis, this would
have been more than sufficient justification for their establishment»
80
. À cette
date donc, les Athéniens ont établi un recensement généralisé des fortunes,
à partir duquel ils établirent une liste de contribuables répartis en symmories
pour payer l’eisphora. Sans les dèmes et les registres que les démarques tenaient à
jour, une telle opération eut été impossible.
L’esprit de cette réforme se comprend mieux encore en regardant la loi triérar-
chique de Périandre de 357. Ce dernier avait introduit deux modifications prin-
cipales, une liste de 1 200 contribuables, dits syntéleis et l’instauration de vingt
symmories composées de soixante membres chacune. Les symmories de 358/7
s’incrivent-elles dans le même système que celui qui fut instauré vingt ans plus
tôt pour l’eisphora? Vincent Gabrielsen a bien montré que le système reposait sur
un principe de liste d’aptitude, une liste des contributeurs potentiels aux eispho-
rai et au financement de la flotte. La création de symmories n’intervient que dans
un deuxième temps
81
. De ce fait, il y a bien un système unique reposant sur l’esti-
mation du timêma de la cité et la création de symmories distinctes. Isocrate éta-
blit une seule et même catégorie lorsqu’il mentionne ‘les mille deux cents, ceux
qui paient l’eisphora et assurent les liturgies’
82
. Les symmories proprement dites
étaient constituées par les stratèges qui désignaient de même les triérarques
83
.
En somme, il paraît pour le moins aventureux d’opposer la cité en circulation
à la cité de raison
84
. Même si les sources manquent pour décrire le fonctionne-
ment au V
ème
siècle, tout laisse à penser que la politeia athénienne, même avant
la démocratie proprement dite, reposait sur un équilibre raisonné entre centre
et périphéries. Dans cette subtile construction, les documents écrits jouaient un
rôle décisif. De fait, cette circulation écrite garantissait une répartition équilibrée
des pouvoirs, évitant une accumulation qui se serait produite soit au bénéfice des
élites, dont l’assise patrimoniale aurait pu faciliter une autorité locale, soit au bé-
néfice de l’assemblée et d’un dêmos plus populaire. Mais ce constat, cette logique

79 Harpocration, s.v. 8:zyçzµµz avec Christ 2007, 65-66.
80 Christ 2007, 67.
81 Cf. en dernier lieu Gabrielsen 1994, 182-199.
82 Isocr., Ant., 15.145.
83 Dém., C. Boeotos I, 39.8: ‘Comment les stratèges feront-ils pour nous inscrire s’il s’agit de
constituer une symmorie ou de désigner un triérarque?’.
84 De notre point de vue (Pébarthe 2012), l’imaginaire permet de dépasser cette opposition,
parce qu’il contient les intervalles dans lesquels Paulin Ismard voit le politique (2011, 172-173).
123
les archives de la cité de raison...
logique, ne doit pas masquer la logique pratique. Ces changements n’ont pas été
faits par un spécialiste de géographie électorale et il est nul besoin de postuler un
Clisthène géomètre pour parvenir à une telle conclusion
85
. Il suffit de rappeler
l’importance de la circulation dans l’imaginaire politique athénien et la peur à
l’égard de toute accumulation ou concentration. Autrement dit, le territoire de la
cité était un espace de circulation, qui ne se réduisait pas à une polarisation qui
relèguerait les périphéries à des fonctions subalternes.
Toute l’originalité de la cité athénienne apparaît alors, celle d’une construc-
tion politique connaissant un centre et des périphéries, sans pour autant les ins-
crire totalement dans une hiérarchie qui se serait opposée à la conception athé-
nienne de l’égalité. Ainsi, sans une bureaucratie professionnelle, les Athéniens
sont parvenus à construire des institutions durables et complexes, permettant
l’exercice d’une réelle autorité sur l’ensemble du territoire; sans bureaucratie
professionnelle, mais non sans archives.

85 Pour des raisons différentes, nous suivons ici Paulin Ismard (2010 et 2011).
124
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er

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l’époque classique, Paris.
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Cornelius Castoriadis, «REA» 114,
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«REG» 114, 242-255.
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H. A. Shapiro, Art and Cult under
the Tyrants in Athens, Mainz am
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127
attic building accounts from euthynae to stelae
shimon epstein
Attic Building Accounts
from Euthynae to Stelae
1
In this paper, I intend to explore the relationship between the forms of Athe-
nian building accounts as presented by relevant officials at their annual euthynae,
as deposited in a state archive on perishable materials, and as carved on mar-
ble in public places. Various forms and probable purposes of inscribed building
documents will be discussed, with particular attention given to the factors be-
hind preserving or omitting the names of workers. I will mostly deal with three
groups of building accounts: those of the Periclean building programme from
the third quarter of the fifth century, of the Erechtheion (409-405 BCE), and the
Eleusinian accounts of the Lykourgan epoch (333-328 BCE).

1 This paper owes much to the lecture of Prof. D. Schaps, which I heard at the Hebrew Uni-
versity of Jerusalem in March 2007. I am grateful to him for showing me the yet unpublished
text of a later version of his paper presented at the 13
th
International Congress of Greek and
Latin Epigraphy in Oxford, September 2007. It is also my pleasure to express my gratitude to
Prof. M. Faraguna for inviting me to the conference on Archives and Archival Documents in Ancient
Societies in Trieste, and for his valuable suggestions during and after the conference. Other par-
ticipants’ contributions and comments were very helpful, too. This paper was prepared during
my Hans-Jensen-Minerva post-doctoral fellowship at Freiburg University. I would like to thank
the Minerva Foundation for providing financial support, and Prof. Sitta von Reden, my host at
Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg.
128
As is well known, the Periclean inscriptions (the statue of Athena Promachos
– IG

I
3
435, the Parthenon – I
3
436-51, the chryselephantine statue – I
3
453-60,
the Propylaea – I
3
462-6, the golden Nikai from the Parthenon – I
3
467-71, and the
two statues for the Hephaestion – I
3
472) mention no builders’ names and very
few construction details. In contrast, minute recording of what was done and by
whom is, on the face of it, a salient feature of the accounts of the Erechtheion (IG
I
3

475-9, mostly 475-6), whereas the Eleusinian documents (IG

II/III
2
1672 and
1673)
2
mention dozens of names, but selectively, as will be shown.
In this paper, I will try to establish the following arguments:
a) While there may have been a particular reason for publishing each building
account, there was a common purpose, too: the inscribed documents served
as symbols and, to an extent, as a means of attaining transparency and ac-
countability.
b) While the form of each building inscription may have correlated with the
purpose of its erection, it depended heavily on sources available. Due to the
euthynae, financial accounts were always there, whilst no other relevant docu-
ment may have existed.
c) Accordingly, even if commemorating the builders’ names may have been one
of the reasons for engraving the accounts from the Erechtheion and Eleu-
sis (as well as from Epidaurus and Delos), this aim has been only partially
achieved, as I shall argue. I argue that the anonymous workmen at the Ere-
chtheion and most of builders left unmentioned in the Eleusinian inscrip-
tions were unnamed in the original documents, and perhaps this was true
for earlier projects, too. The authorities did not go out of their way to find out
information, absent from financial accounts, even where it could have been
obtained relatively easily.
Finally, I will discuss broader implications of these conclusions as to the role of
archives and documents in classical Athens.
It is difficult to imagine more different building documents than the Periclean
inscriptions on the one hand and the accounts of the Erechtheion on the other.
The former parade huge sums but remain obscure as to technical, organizational
and even financial details. In the latter, the sums are modest but we can see what
was built in which prytany, how much did it cost, who performed the work and
how he was paid for it. Here for the first time we have building accounts ordered
by prytanies, and within each prytany – and this makes the inscriptions of the
Erechtheion unique – by architectural elements. In addition, for the first time
individual builders are named and their statuses indicated. Eighty years later,

2 See now Clinton 2005, nos. 159, 177.
129
attic building accounts from euthynae to stelae
some Eleusinian accounts are still ordered by prytanies, but others are not. Many
workers and sellers are named in these accounts, but in spite of a clear tendency
towards giving more information with the passage of time, the proportion of
persons of undefined status is much higher in the Eleusinian inscriptions than
in those of the Erechtheion. In what follows, I try to make sense of these differ-
ences and similarities. I do not pretend to know full answers: as we are all aware,
Greek inscriptions are often haphazard in what they mention or omit. Not to
mention the accidents of survival of various bits of information in various in-
scriptions. Still, I hope to have discerned a certain logic behind what is preserved
and what is not in inscribed building accounts.
It seems a natural hypothesis that the differences between various groups
of building accounts as we have them depend, to a significant extent, on why
these documents were inscribed in the first place. At the same time, whatever
the purpose of an inscription might have been, it could include only the available
information, though not necessarily all such information, of course. As already
said, here I presume that financial accounts prepared for the annual euthynae
were the main and often the only source of the relevant information. We do not
know many details about the process of the euthynae, but the officials in ques-
tion – in our case, primarily epistatai and the tamiai of the temples built – surely
had to submit the records reflecting their activity during their term in office. The
form of these records might have been loosely defined, but there were common
elements, probably indispensable: almost every Greek account we have contains
the names of the magistrates and the year in which they served, generally identi-
fied by an eponymous magistrate; what they received from the previous office-
holders; and what they passed on and to whom. These records (presumably on
papyrus, but perhaps on wax-covered wooden tablets or on whitewashed boards
where texts were written with charcoal) could be subsequently deposited in an
archive, though I am not certain. According to Ath. Pol., the tablets, indicating
the payments due according to the various deadlines during the year, made by
the poletai, were deposited with the council and then produced and wiped off
when the payments were made.
3
Similarly, the records of at least some officials’
accounts could have been deleted after their examinations were finished,
4
espe-
cially if the records were inscribed.
5
Alternatively, these records might have been

3 Arist. Ath. Pol. 47. 2-48. Cf. Rhodes 2001, 34. The contracts themselves were perhaps kept for
future reference, at least when they were important for maintaining evidence of ownership.
See Faraguna 1997, 12-3, and now Papazarkadas 2011, 51ff. Other examples of documents de-
stroyed: Cohen 2006, 79; Sickinger 1999, 68-70.
4 This is perhaps why the famous ATL lists the aparchai rather than the tributes themselves:
the inscribing probably began only in 432/1 (ATL I vii), and if the hellenotamiai’s accounts for
the previous years were not preserved, but the temple inventories, with their obvious religious
meaning, were, the Athenians may have simply published these inventories.
5 This possibility must not be assumed automatically for all types of documents: Sickinger
1999, 70 ff.
130
deposited in a reduced form. Once the examination passed, not all the informa-
tion may have been deemed worthy of preservation: whereas the data proving
the officials’ integrity were perhaps no more relevant, the sums paid still were.
Although, on the face of it, it would be easier simply to deposit in an archive the
same table that was submitted for the audit, two considerations might have in-
terfered: economy of space (we do not know how archives were organized) and
perhaps more formal character of archives in comparison with the files present-
ed for the euthynae. The euthynae were basically oral procedures, I believe, espe-
cially in the fifth century: the records prepared may have been rather loosely or-
ganized, because they were accompanied by oral explanations. We should expect
more uniform requirements for the files deposited into archives.
I see three basic possible reasons for significant differences in form and con-
tent between various building inscriptions: 1) while some inscriptions were
based on the records submitted for the euthynae, others took information from
the reduced form of these records, deposited in an archive; 2) evolution of the
format of the records presented for the euthynae and perhaps of those stored in
archives; 3) having similar information for all building projects, the Athenians
in each given case decided to inscribe various parts of this information, depend-
ing on what seemed relevant for their purposes. Of course, these three possible
factors are not mutually exclusive.
6
We will now consider the probability of each
of these factors’ influence for every one of the three main construction projects
of Classical Athens.
Periclean building documents
I doubt that anyone could have passed his audit with only the data preserved in
the inscriptions of the Parthenon or of Athena Promachos. This is especially true
with regard to those who paid to individual builders rather than to official bod-
ies: since no name is mentioned, who could check that no obol of the huge sums
involved ended up in the coffers of those who pretended to give the money away
to masons and sculptors? Since we know that individual workmen were named
in the accounts of the Erechtheion and Eleusis, it is, on the face of it, the most
economic hypothesis that these data were available to the authors of the texts
of the Periclean building inscriptions as well, but were omitted – most probably
for the sake of economy, but also perhaps because too much information would
obscure the main messages of the inscription, to which we shall soon return. In
any case, it was a relatively early stage in the development of the epigraphic hab-
it, when inscribing too detailed accounts was not something the Athenians got

6 The fact that building inscriptions are often reduced versions of original accounts may un-
dermine Burford’s theory of the evolution of the building contracts: Kuznetsov 2000, 119-23,
127ff, 166-7 with Epstein 2008, 110.
131
attic building accounts from euthynae to stelae
used to. But while this hypothesis – my number three – seems most economic,
I would not altogether exclude two other possibilities. First, the Parthenon ac-
counts seem not to have been inscribed until the project had been in full swing:
the first five years are all inscribed in the same hand.
7
Likewise, the accounts of
the statue of Athena Promachos, which span the period of at least nine years, may
have been published at a single time.
8
If so, the records of the accounts for several
years must have been kept in some archive, at least until they were inscribed,
9

but they may have contained a reduced form of the records submitted for the au-
dit – the form we read today. By the time contemporary accounts were published,
the epigraphic routine had already been established. Regardless of the delay in
publication, the reduced form may have been the only one preserved in an ar-
chive, at least at that time. Another possibility is that the written accounts of the
Periclean time, already at the stage of euthynae, were much less detailed than we
would expect. Some data may have been privately recorded and produced only
when required, i. e. when objections were raised during one’s audit. Thus, when
the officials disbursed money to hundreds of workers witnesses presumably had
to be present. To record the witnesses’ names could have been even more impor-
tant than to write down all the names of the recipients, as many of them, being
foreigners, would leave Athens by the time of the euthynae.
10
Here we deal with
one of the most important differences between the roles of documents in ancient
Greece and in modern times. In our accounts, every entry about expenses and
even receipts has to be balanced by a corresponding signed document testifying
to the reality of the transaction. However, in ancient Greece witnesses and (pub-
lic) oaths played the role of our signature. Even in fourth-century Athens, written
contracts properly sealed and deposited were invalid without eyewitnesses of
the agreement.
11
This reminds us of destroying of documents concurrently with
a party’s compliance with the obligations imposed by written arrangements,
mentioned above.
12
Accordingly, it would not be so surprising if the recipients
of public money remained sometimes (or always) anonymous in the accounts of
the Pentekontaetia. Surely, Pericles would not publicly point to Pleistoanax and
Kleandridas in his famous audit in 446.
13
As for the eyewitnesses of the transac-
tions, if they were ever officially registered (I doubt), it would serve no purpose
to preserve their names on stone after the euthynae.

7 Sickinger 1999, 70.
8 Ibid.
9 Sickinger 1999, 70-1.
10 See Epstein 2010 for a probably high ratio of journeymen among the builders of Athenian
temples and fortifications.
11 E.g. Dem. 34,35; cf. Cohen 2006, 79 with n. 40; Faraguna 2008.
12 See supra, n. 3.
13 Ar. Nub. 859 with schol.; Plut. Per. 23.1.
132
Another interesting problem is the organization of the accounts by prytanies
(or absence of such organization). Some payments were made once in a prytany
already in the middle of the fifth century (I
3
435.19, 26, 52, 77, 112), and, of course,
the epistatai of Athena Promachos kept records of such payments before they sub-
mitted their accounts. However, other payments are made daily or as lump sums
(µ:oÐo: znonz¿;, ibid., see also 472.186), and monthly payments (but not pay-
ments per prytany) are mentioned in the accounts of the Parthenon and Propy-
laia (×ztzµcv:o:;: I
3
436. 29; 443. 231; 446.339; 447.361; 449.403; 462.51). For this
reason, I would not be surprised to find out that the files submitted to logistai (or
whoever examined the officeholders after their terms in the fifth century) were
not ordered by prytanies. This ignoring of prytanies seems even more probable
for the documents preserved in archives.
After envisaging the possibility that the original documents from which the
Parthenon inscriptions were drawn simply lacked many important data, we
remain with the fact that some data were surely there and were omitted when
the accounts were engraved. Thus, the names of the epistatai, recorded down to
438/7, are not given afterwards. As far as administration goes, it was not impor-
tant: their secretary is named (strangely enough, his name is preserved even for
the years when he was a syngrammateus, though the other grammateus’ name is
unknown), so the board may be easily identified, but this was so from the start.
14

Whatever the reasons for dropping the names of the commissioners, commemo-
rating these officials was hardly the purpose of inscribing the accounts. What
was the purpose?
It was once believed that the administrative accounts were inscribed for pub-
lic scrutiny.
15
We are more skeptical today.
16
The fuller version of the epistatai’s
accounts may have been exposed, on ozv:8c;, for scrutiny between their end of
term and euthynae,
17
but the Parthenon inscriptions as we have them are hardly a
convenient tool for accountability. In particular, no worker could find himself in
these documents and check whether all money allegedly paid to him had really
reached his hands. And, of course, it would be pointless to check the rectitude of
the officials who underwent their audits several years ago. Of course, the huge
sums may have served as imperial propaganda,
18
though one can wonder whether
the buildings and statues themselves were not enough for this purpose. A partial
answer is that the epigraphic propaganda could be launched before the construc-
tions became impressive (but this does not seem to apply to the statue of Athena

14 Another example of haphazardness: the dating prescripts of the early years of the Parthe-
non accounts and of those of Propylaia omit archon’s names.
15 See, for example, ML, 164.
16 See, e.g., Hedrick 1994, whose case is perhaps overstated. See also Hedrick 1999; Rhodes
2001, 140-4 for a more balanced view.
17 On ozv:8c;, see Wilhelm 1909, 239-49; Fisher 2003.
18 Cf. Rhodes 2001, 140-1.
133
attic building accounts from euthynae to stelae
Promachos, as we have seen). There probably were other propagandistic points,
besides the grandeur of the undertaking. One of them, I would suggest, is dem-
onstrating that the sums, contributed by the hellenotamiai, are relatively mod-
est. In the best preserved accounts for 434/3 (ML 59) the board is not mentioned
at all, and in the Propylaia account of the same year (ML 60) it is only Athena’s
aparche, a mina in a talent. The treasures of Athena seem to be the main paymas-
ters. It is probably not a coincidence that the publication of the Parthenon ac-
counts began the next year after the ostracism of Pericles’ main rival. The decision
to commemorate the accounts on stone was probably taken in the year of Thouky-
dides’ ostracism, when the opposition to the Periclean building program seems
to be maximal. In view of the accusations that the Athenians exploited their allies
by using their money, taken for military purposes, for adorning their own city
(Plut. Per. 12. 2), Pericles and his supporters tried to demonstrate that the con-
struction was mostly financed from Athens’ own resources. The aparche was pre-
sumably seen as legitimate. Which contention was closer to the truth is another
matter.
19
There may have been an administrative point, too. The year when the ac-
counts of the Parthenon were first inscribed is the year when syngrammateis to the
boards of the epistatai of the Parthenon and of the hellenotamiai are first secure-
ly attested.
20
Whatever the logic behind these reforms, it was perhaps deemed
worthwhile to advertise the changes.
21
Last but not least, there was democratic propaganda, too. Though not very
suitable as a check on the authorities, the inscribed accounts probably served as a
symbol of accountability and transparency. When an Athenian looked at the stele
with the Parthenon accounts, he understood that the magistrates involved had
undergone audits whereby every willing citizen had been allowed to be present
and even to challenge any official. Therefore, the technical details are not that im-
portant now. What matters is that it is we, the Athenians, who build magnificent
temples and manage impressive sums. Our officials submit us annual accounts
and publicize them. Every citizen who wishes may learn which board contrib-
uted how much to which purpose. As stated above, some information that we
consider as important and that we find in later building documents may have
not been easily available to the authors of the Periclean building inscriptions.


19 See Kallet-Marx 1989 versus Samons 1993.
20 See ML, on p. 164.
21 Michele Faraguna reminds, in his response to this paper, that the sheer fact that there were
both a grammateus and a syngrammateus implies that the paperwork to be dealt with was not
negligible. One could suggest that the appointment of a permanent co-secretary of the Par-
thenon commissioners was needed because the decision to publish the records increased the
amount of paperwork. This seems seducing as far as the Parthenon accounts are concerned.
However, the appointment in the same year of a permanent syngrammateus to the hellenotamiai,
whose accounts remained unpublished at this stage (and perhaps at all, as we have seen: above,
n. 4) should give us a pause.
134
Even so, the Athenians could publish much more details, had they wished. What
they included was probably deemed sufficient for the purposes suggested here.
22
The Erechtheion
So much for the building accounts before the Peloponnesian war. As we have
seen, the documents of the next construction complex attested, the Erechtheion,
are mainly distinguished by three new features: they are ordered by prytanies;
inside prytanies they are ordered by architectural elements; they contain de-
tailed descriptions of how much was paid, to whom, for which tasks and by
which method. Of these three features, the order by prytanies was already es-
tablished by the time the construction of the Erechtheion was resumed (e.g.
ML 77 and, more immediately relevant, ML 84 of 410/9; interestingly, an oligar-
chic decree known as ML 81 refers to months, not to prytanies). In contrast, the
order by architectural elements is special for the Erechtheion. Besides the strin-
gent financial and political situation, what was so special for this project is that
the construction was interrupted (we do not know when, nor, for that matter,
when it began). Schaps, in his yet unpublished essay referred to above, suggests
that, when the project was renewed in 409/8, «nobody will have known ex-
actly how much work remained to be done, and so nobody can have calculated
precisely how much it should cost».
23
Hence the need to publish the survey of
what was already done (I
3
474), «so that the information would remain publicly
available during the work and money could not be claimed for work that in fact
had been done by the earlier commissioners». The survey was organized, natu-
rally enough, by architectural item. For a further check on the commissioners,
the annual accounts recorded precisely which work was done, organized in the
same way. The explanation seems tempting. I would add another peculiarity of

22 The response of M. Faraguna justly emphasises the religious dimension of publicising
the building accounts. It is true that most Greek building inscriptions preserved reflect the con-
struction of temples. Not all the temples, however. We still have to answer, why the building
accounts of some temples (and some secular projects, like Conon’s restoration of the Athenian
Walls) were inscribed, whereas other public construction activity remained epigraphically un-
attested. To the secular projects named by Faraguna one might add the construction of the Pnyx
(three times), of the Theater of Dionysus (twice, not to count local theaters), of the Tholos, of
the Arsenal, and so on. However, we have no accounts for the first stage of the erection of the
Erechtheion, either. One cannot assume, together with Humphreys 1985, that all these build-
ings were privately financed. In any case, there are no significant differences in this respect
between the Lykourgan period and earlier decades, as we have seen. Of course, some building
inscriptions may remain unknown to us, but this possibility does not save Humphrey’s theory.
23 This is especially true if no accounts of the corresponding commissioners survived. Of
course, such possibility should have been an excellent argument for preserving the accounts,
but surely, the Athenians, like any other people, frequently learned from their own mistakes.
On the other hand, some accounts may have not survived in the stormy events of 415-410.
135
attic building accounts from euthynae to stelae
the project in question, following, too, from the interruption of the works: the
epistatai had to deal only with relatively advanced stages of the construction. Nei-
ther transportation nor works in quarries were needed. Certainly, the accounts
of these activities would not be ordered by architectural elements.
The particular need to provide a check on embezzlement, due to the unique
situation mentioned above, may have something to do with detailed indication
of the workers, their tasks and their salaries. Together with order by prytanies and
by architectural items, this feature surely made the accounts of the Erechtheion
look more like accounts. And though we find most of these features in later ac-
counts in Attica and elsewhere, only the Delian building documents can rival
the inscriptions of the Erechtheion in their minute description of the tasks. It
seems that the epistatai used for their accounts written specifications from which
the builders read off (or heard) their instructions. The similarity between some
lines of I
3
475 – 476 and the inscribed specifications of the ships’ arsenal built by
Philon (IG II
2
1668.15ff), is striking. It is the most economic hypothesis that these
specifications were included already in the records presented for the euthynae.
Similar material seems to be available to the officials of Periclean Athens, too,
24

but they did not use it, at least for the inscribed accounts. As for the indication
of the workmen’s status, the accounts of the Erechtheion remain unsurpassed
in Antiquity. Various explanations were offered for this first appearance of the
individual in building accounts.
25
Political and financial situation, administra-
tive reforms and gradual development of epigraphical habits were proposed as
causes. In fact, as individuals are named in later accounts, we should beware of
too circumstantial explanations. As for the stringent financial situation, surely
no time was so prosperous that the Athenians were ready to tolerate embezzle-
ment. Some general factors surely were at play here. Thus, designation of metics
through demes where they were registered and of slaves through their owner’s
name in genitive is not attested before the end of the fifth century. As for the
metics, Whitehead sees here a real reform of their status,
26
but a simple change
of epigraphic practice seems at least no less plausible. And it looks like the only
option for the change in designation of slaves. Similarly, as stated above, there
is no telling when individual workmen make their appearance in the euthynae
– the change may have been merely epigraphic. Even so, neither resident aliens
nor slaves would be designated so precisely in any document before the end of
the fifth century.
While this mentioning of every worker, including a slave, and meticulous in-
dication of his status is a (perhaps the) prominent feature of the accounts of the

24 Cf. Burford 1963, 25.
25 They are summarized in Feyel 2006, 16-7.
26 Whitehead 1977, 152.
136
Erechtheion,
27
we will be surprised to understand that some workmen remain
anonymous and probably even more are not even mentioned. The anonymous
workers are the ocvcçyo: of Raidios (I
3
475.57, at least two, only one working
each given day
28
) and of Phalakros Paianieus (475.41-2, one man). They may be
slaves (cf. Xen. Mem. 2.3.3; we know that Phalacros had slaves, but they are named:
IG I
3
476.81-3, 229-31, 313-4), or relatives,
29
or pupils. The unmentioned workmen
are those who helped artisans employed on the basis of piece rate pay. The exist-
ence of such assistants is indicated by two facts. First, Raidios, already mentioned
here, works with assistants when employed on daily basis, but alone when paid
by piecework.
30
But he surely needs assistants when working with a two-hand
saw, as he probably does. The difference between the employment methods is
that it was pointless to mention assistants in the account when only the amount
of work done was relevant (and the name of the recipient of the pay – Raidios in
our case). In comparison, the number of workers was of course relevant for daily
payment (but their names were not, since obviously the wage was taken directly
by Raidios). Second, the possibility of artisans paid by piecework having unmen-
tioned assistants (once more, probably slaves, but not necessarily) is sometimes
implied by comparison of their earnings when working in a group (when eve-
ry craftsman was recorded) and alone (cf., e. g., IG I
3
475.31-51 and 476.192-218,
223-48). We may find it strange, that some workers are left unmentioned where-
as in other cases no one is forgotten, not even slaves. In fact, what is unusual is
not that one’s slaves or other assistants are ignored when the pay depends on
the amount of work done, but that slaves are so often mentioned (and named)
in these accounts. Let us see, then, when they are mentioned. This occurs in
two cases: when slaves work separately of their masters, as slave carpenters do
(IG I
3
475.66-9, 233-4, 254-6, 288-93; and perhaps 476.119-23), or when they chan-
nel columns in brigades, together with free masons. When slaves have independ-
ent tasks, their names are relevant either as their owners’ title for the money
earned, or as independent recipients of their wages. But why on earth should one
mention slaves when they channel columns together with their masters (this
is what most slaves attested at the Erechtheion do), while omitting them when
they work, together with their masters, on stone blocks? The answer, I believe,
lies within the collective character of the channeling. Channelling of each col-
umn was, in fact, a latent form of contract,
31
but still without a formal contract
and accordingly without a formal contractor. Formal contracts for large sums are

27 In one instance, too diligent indication of status creates obscurity: Aco:z: Aì×:nno Kc-
ç:o (475.110-3). See Epstein 2010, n. 31.
28 See Epstein 2010 with n. 4.
29 Cf. IG XI, 2, 161.71: N:×av: ×z: ta: c:a: cçyzozµcvo:; cn: toc ×:ovo; ¸µcçz; 8co µ:oÐo;
8çz¿µz: …
30 Cf. Epstein 2009 with nn. 49-50.
31 Caskey 1927, 411.
137
attic building accounts from euthynae to stelae
avoided at the Erechtheion, for reasons that should be discussed separately. Ac-
cordingly, there was no one man who could receive the wage earned by the entire
brigade. In addition, the composition of these brigades was always heterogene-
ous: never only members of one family, never only a master and his slaves. Ac-
cordingly, it was important to precise the contribution of each worker – or of his
master, if we speak of a slave. The slaves’ names proved that their owner really
brought such and such number of workers.
32
Now, if we believe, together with Burford and some other scholars, that the
workers are named (mainly) for ideological purposes,
33
we should conclude that
those unnamed did not work. However, we do have at least three unnamed syner-
goi. Moreover, the contractors’ workers are never mentioned in our inscriptions,
including those of Epidaurus, on which Burford’s hypothesis is primarily based.
Does it mean that commemorating the builders just was not the purpose of in-
scribing these accounts? Not necessarily. We must keep in mind the difference
between the purpose of an account, and the purpose of its publication. The com-
missioners did not think of commemorating the workers when they prepared
the file for their audit – they probably thought how to avoid severe punishment
in case of accusation of abusing public trust. When they prepared the inscrip-
tion, the names were not there. Of course, they could be restored, at least in some
cases. Phalakros, for example, was an Athenian citizen; his assistant’s name could
not be a great secret. But, apparently, this was never done. I am not surprised.
If commemorating the names of those who contributed to the building of the
temple had been the purpose of inscribing the accounts, why not simply pub-
lish a list of names, as, for example, in the casualty list of the Erechtheis tribe
(IG I
3
1147), or the list of those who participated in a naval battle (I
3
1032 = II
2
1951)?
By inscribing the financial accounts, the Athenians achieved several aims: not
only they commemorated the names, but the precise contribution of everyone
involved. Beyond this, they provided an additional check on their officeholders.
If the Periclean building inscriptions served as symbols of accountability and
transparency, those of the epoch of Cleophon were a means of attaining these
aims. I believe this step was taken, at least to an extent, consciously.

32 One Erechtheion account (IG I
3
475. 272-85) lists numbers of anonymous workers, from 19
to 33, (with unnamed functions) in several prytanies, and the sums paid. The sum in drachmas
equals the number of men in each of the prytanies. Loomis 1998, 105-6, sees here «laborers,
who did…unspecified work». The anonymity of these workmen induces Kuznetsov 2000, 52-3
to assume that they were slaves, public or private. I am not sure, and suggest that the sums reg-
istered are intended for the workers’ nourishment: one or two obols a day, during three or six
days for a worker. See Epstein 2008a, nn. 2, 15. In this case, the anonymity was only natural.
33 See, e.g., Graham 1998 108: «citizens, foreigners, metics and slaves are engaged in some
common enterprise». Cf. Burford 1971, 75.
138
The Eleusinian Inscriptions
In Lykourgan Athens the records for the euthynae were doubtless ordered by
prytanies, as are the accounts of 329/8 (II
2
1672). However, the accounts of trans-
portation of marble drums to Eleusis (II
2
1673) ignore prytanies. This is surely a
case when not all information available was deemed relevant, probably because
the work was undertaken between July and September.
34
II
2
1672 is much more
similar to the accounts of the Erechtheion: the order by prytanies; sometimes
by architectural details; many workers are named and their status indicated. Be-
fore I proceed to differences between these accounts, I will highlight the differ-
ences between the conditions in which the works on the two complexes were
performed, as well as between the contexts in which the accounts were prepared.
First, II
2
1672 reflects the activity of two boards: not only the Eleusinian epistatai,
but also of the Treasures of the two Goddesses. As these boards had different eu-
thynae, the accounts we have had to be composed for the publication, which pro-
vided good opportunity for editing. Second, contractors were widely used; we
shall see some consequences of this fact for the form and content of our accounts.
Third, the activity reflected is not actually construction of a temple where none
existed. Some elements were built; some parts were repaired. Building debris
was removed. Transportation and quarrying were performed. Like in Delos, but
not as in the Erechtheion neither the works themselves nor the accounts could be
totally ordered by architectural items. The description of the work done is typi-
cally less detailed than in the accounts of the Erechtheion. One of the reasons, I
suggest, is that instead of using the written specifications as a basis for the ac-
counts, as at the Erechtheion, the Eleusinian accounts use the contracts. This is
one result of contracting the work out: after all, one of the supposed advantages
of such contracting is that now it is the contractors, rather than the officials, who
should mostly deal with the specifications. Another, more obvious result of the
wide use of contracts is that the contractors’ workers – probably most builders
involved – are totally unknown to us. I doubt that the authorities wanted to com-
memorate these workers, but had they wanted it would not have been easy – they
surely did not know these workmen's names.
What is more enigmatic is the complete anonymity of daily wagers in the
Eleusinian accounts. As the workers employed on a daily basis are named in the
accounts of the Erechtheion (except when they are assistants), we may suggest
that the names of such workers were recorded in Lykourgan Athens, too. My
guess is that these names were omitted when the accounts were prepared for
publication. Since all daily workers of the same skill level got the same salary,
their names seem to be considered irrelevant. At the Erechtheion, such work-
ers were fewer and, especially in the first documented year, they did not work

34 Salmon 2001, 200.
139
attic building accounts from euthynae to stelae
by more than three together. Afterwards the habit to mention the daily wagers
was already established. In comparison, at Eleusis we often see groups of ten mis-
thotoi, so that significant space could be saved by suppressing their names. One
result is that we ignore the number of daily workers in the Eleusinian construc-
tion project. Accordingly, as only a name gives out its bearer’s status in Athens,
we cannot calculate the ratio of builders of various statuses on the Eleusinian
building site.
35
Conclusion
The Greeks were unique in inscribing financial accounts. We have seen how in-
terplay between the available information and the purposes of its publication
might influence the form and content of a particular subset of these accounts
– building accounts. Though fuller versions of building documents may have ex-
isted in archives on perishable materials, the inscribed version was somehow
considered the official one, in contrast to our present conception of the docu-
ment.
36
It is remarkable to what extent this official document could have been
shaped by contingent circumstances.

35 For such calculations, see Feyel 2006, 325.
36 Rhodes 2001, 136.
140
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143
the plaint in athenian law and legal procedure
When an Athenian citizen or other resident of Attica initiated a private or public
suit, he began by issuing a summons to the defendant to appear before a magis-
trate on a certain day.
1
On this day he submitted a written document to the mag-
istrate, which recorded his own name, the name of the defendant, the type of
action he was initiating, and the charges against the defendant.
2
This might be
called an engklêma (Dem. 32. 2, 4, 27; 34.16) or graphe (Dem. 18.8, 9).
3
If the defen-
dant denied the charges, he submitted a written statement to that effect called
an antigraphe (Lys. 23.10; Dem. 45.46; Hyp. Eux. 31; Poll. 8.58). Each litigant swore

1 For the methods of initiating legal procedures see Lipsius 1905-15, 804-28.
2 Calhoun 1919, 190 believes that «in the time of the earlier orators complaints were still
made orally and were written down by the court officials, and that the practice of handing them
in in writing was introduced in the fourth century, probably not long before the commence-
ment of Demosthenes’ career».
3 Engklêma appears to be the term used mainly in private actions (e.g. Dem. 34.16), but it
is used for the plaint in a public charge at Lys. 9.8 and Pl. Ap. 24b-c. In the procedure of phasis
the plaint was called the phasis – see [Dem.] 58.7. In the eisangelia procedure the plaint could
be called the eisangelia – cf. Lyc. Leocr. 137; Hyp. Lyc. 3; Eux. 29-32. In the apographe procedure
the plaint was called the apographe – see Lys. 9.3. Cf. Lipsius 1905-15, 817 with note 48 («Für
die besonderen Formen der öffentlichen Klagen wird die Klageschrift selbst, wie c:ozyycì:z,
çzo:;, znzyay¸, cv8c:ç:; . . . »).
The Plaint in Athenian Law
and Legal Procedure
edward m. harris
144
an oath that the statements in his document were true, and the document could
therefore also be called an antômosia (Is. 3.6; 5. 2; Lys. 23.13; Pl. Ap. 19b; Harpocra-
tion s.v. zvtaµoo:z; Poll. 8.55).
4
If the magistrate accepted the case, he posted
a copy of the plaint before the statues of the Eponymous Heroes in the Agora
(Dem. 21.103).
5
Before the trial began the secretary of the court read the plaint
to the judges (Aeschin. 1. 2). At the end of his speech the accuser might read out
the plaint (Hyp. Phil. 13; Eux. 40) or remind the court of the main charges (Dem.
19.333; 23. 215-18). Despite its importance in Athenian legal procedure, the main
handbooks on Athenian law pay little attention to the plaint.
6
Several recent es-
says have discussed the plaint but only examine some of the evidence and do not
provide an extensive analysis of its role in Athenian legal procedure.
7
The basic form of the plaint contained the name of the accuser, the name
of the defendant and the name of the offense. A good example is the plaint
submitted by Apollodorus in his case against Stephanus: “Apollodorus, the son of
Pasion, from the deme of Acharnai, (brings a charge) of false testimony against
Stephanus, the son of Menecles, from the deme of Acharnai. Penalty: one talent”
( Anoììo8aço; Hzo:avo; A¿zçvcc; ltcçzva Mcvc×ìcoc; A¿zçvc: ¦cc8oµzç-
tcç:av, t:µ¸µz tzìzvtov) (Dem. 45.46). The version Demosthenes (21.103) gives
of the plaint written by Euctemon follows the same pattern: “Euctemon from the
deme of Lousia has brought a charge of desertion against Demosthenes from
the deme of Paiania” (lc×t¸µav Aoco:cc; cyçz¦zto ^¸µooÐcv¸v Hz:zv:cz

4 On this term see Wyse 1904, 294. Cf. Harrison 1971, 99.
5 Demosthenes (21.103) says that Euctemon brought a charge, which was displayed, then did
not attend the anakrisis, which would indicate that the magistrate posted the charge before the
anakrisis, not after. Pace Faraguna 2006, 205, note 34 («dopo l’anakrisis una copia dell’atto di
accusa veniva esposta dal magistrato . . .»). Cf. Isocr. 15. 237; [Dem.] 58.7-8. On the monument of
the Eponymous Heroes see Shear 1970.
6 Beauchet 1897 contains no general discussion of the plaint. Lipsius 1905-15, 815-24 men-
tions only the plaints found at Dem. 45.46; Dem. 37. 22, 25, 26, 28, 29; D. H. Din. 3; Plut. Alc. 22;
D. L. 2.40 and does not discuss many of the passages examined in this essay. The index to his
work contains no entry for the term cy×층z. Harrison 1971, 91-2 mentions only those plaints
cited by Lipsius and contains no extensive discussion of their contents and role in litigation.
MacDowell 1978, 150-1, 201, 239 gives translations of the plaints at Dem. 37. 22, D. H. Din. 3,
and D. L. 2.40, but states only «the prosecutor or claimant gave the magistrate a statement of
his charge or claim» and that by the time of Demosthenes it was submitted in writing. Todd
1993, 126 discusses briefly the possibility that the magistrate might not accept the indictment
but has nothing about the indictment’s form or contents. Gagarin 2008, 112-3 discusses only
the plaints cited by Harrison and has nothing to add to his discussion. Pébarthe 2006, 315-43
has a very good discussion of the documents used in litigation but has only three pages on the
engklema, phasis, and paragraphe.
7 Faraguna 2006 discusses only the plaints mentioned by Lipsius and Harrison and the doc-
uments at [Plut.] Mor. 833e-834b (I am skeptical about the authenticity of this document). Ber-
trand 2002 and Thür 2007 only discuss some of the evidence and provide little analysis of the
document’s role.
145
the plaint in athenian law and legal procedure
ì:notzç:oc).
8
The names of the accuser and the defendant are followed by the
patronymic and the name of their demes (Demosthenes is probably abbreviating
Euctemon’s plaint by omitting the patronymics). Demosthenes (21.87) says that
the names of the kleteres, the witnesses to the summons, were also written on the
plaint (cf. [Dem.] 53.14).
9
This information was important for the magistrate who received the charge
for several reasons. The first was to establish the full identity of each party for all
subsequent stages of the procedure. If the defendant lost the case and had to pay
damages, the record of the trial would clearly indicate who had to pay. If the de-
fendant were condemned to pay a fine or lose some political rights, the praktores
who collected fines would know whom to record as a public debtor.
10
The second
was to determine the status of the two parties; if both were citizens, the magis-
trate would send the case to one of the regular courts, but if one party was a met-
ic, he would have to refer the case to the Polemarch and the prostates of the metic
might become involved. If the defendant were a slave, the magistrate would have
to make sure that his master would represent him in court. Lysias’ speech Against
Pancleon illustrates the importance of establishing the status of the defendant.
The accuser recounts how he summoned Pancleon before the Polemarch because
he assumed he was a metic (Lys. 23. 2). When he replied that he was a Plataean and
belonged to the deme of Decelea, the accuser summoned him before the court of
the tribe Hippothontis (Lys. 23.3). The fact that he was careful to select the right
jurisdiction reveals that he obviously expected the magistrate to reject the charge
if it was not brought in the right venue.
Third, the magistrate had to know the precise nature of the charge so that
he could be sure that the accuser was initiating a procedure contained in one of

8 The accuser in a public case apparently did not have to decide about what penalty he was
going to propose at the timesis phase of the trial until after the court voted about the guilt of
the defendant. This would explain why Demosthenes in his speech Against Meidias mentions
several possible penalties for the defendant. See Harris 1989, 125-26. This would also explain
why Euctemon’s plaint did not contain a penalty. See, however, [Dem.] 58.43 (Theocrines adds
a penalty of ten talents in a graphe paranomon), Aeschin. 2.14 (Lycinus writes one hundred tal-
ents as penalty), Arist. Ath. Pol. 48.4 (the accuser at the euthynai writes the penalty (to t:µ¸µz
c[n:yçz¦]zµcvo;) and the comic version of a plaint found at Ar. Vesp. 894-97: z×occt ¸8¸
t¸; yçzç¸;. cyçz¦zto/Kcav Kc8zиvz:cc; Az¸¸t A:çavcz/tov tcçov z8:×c:v ot: µovo;
×zt¸oÐ:cv/tov l:×cì:×ov. T:µ¸µz ×ìao; oc×:vo;. See also the law about archives from Paros,
which required the accuser in a public suit against those who tampered with public documents
to write the amount of the penalty in the plaint: t:µ¸µz cn:yçzçoµcvo; | t: ¿ç¸ nzÐc:v ¸ zno-
tc:oz: (SEG 33.679, lines 27-32).
9 Lipsius 1905-15, 805 thought that this was not necessary because the names of these wit-
nesses are not found on the plaints in the passages cited in note 6, but there is no reason to
believe that these documents were complete.
10 For the praktores see Antiph. 6.49; IG I
3
59 (c. 430 BCE), fr. e, lines 47-8; IG II
2
45 (378/7),
line 7; Agora 15.56A, line 34. For the importance of having the right name on the plaint see
Dem. 39.15.
146
the laws. All magistrates in Athens were forbidden to follow any unwritten law,
that is, a law that was not found in the written lawcode of Athens (Andoc. 1.86).
11

If a magistrate accepted a charge that did not follow one of the legal procedures
in the lawcode, he would violate this rule and be subject to prosecution at his
euthynai (Arist. Ath. Pol. 48.4). The Athenian magistrate did not issue an edict in-
dicating what kinds of charges he would accept. He was not like a Roman mag-
istrate who could make procedural innovations by applying standard procedure
to new kinds of offenses or modify the traditional formulae; he could only accept
charges in accordance with a particular law. Fourth, the plaint would enable the
magistrate to make sure that the accuser had brought his charge in the correct
jurisdiction. If the accuser had brought his charge before the wrong magistrate,
the latter would reject the charge and could indicate to the accuser another mag-
istrate to whom he should submit his case. This also served to protect the mag-
istrate by helping him to avoid accepting cases that lay outside his jurisdiction.
Fifth, in private cases the magistrate, the public arbitrator and the court had
to know in private cases the exact amount of damages the plaintiff was request-
ing. The public arbitrator and the court needed to know so that it could deter-
mine whether the losses suffered by the plaintiff were roughly equivalent to
the damages he requested. For instance, Demosthenes, when arguing his case
against his guardians, had not only to prove that they had embezzled a large
amount of his inheritance but also to show the exact amount that they had taken
(Dem. 27.4-6). Sixth, if the plaintiff lost the case, the court had to know how much
he had requested to determine the amount of the epobolia, a fine of one-sixth the
amount he had requested.
12
Seventh, if the defendant were to charge the accuser
with making a false summons (graphe pseudokleteias), it was necessary to know
the names of the alleged witnesses to the summons so that they could be invited
to testify.
13
For all these reasons, it was crucial to have a written record of all this
information.
But the plaint contained much more information than these basic facts. The
accuser also had to indicate the illegal actions performed by the defendant. He
could not just assert that the defendant had broken the law; he had to show what
the defendant had done to violate the law. When describing the actions of the de-
fendant, the accuser also had to follow the language of the statute under which he
had initiated his procedure. In 343 Hyperides brought a charge of treason against
Philocrates using the procedure of eisangelia. This law applied to three types of
offenses: 1) attempts to overthrow the democracy, 2) treason (betraying [nço8a ]
the city, its ships, land or naval forces), and 3) speaking against the best interests

11 Note that several passages state explicitly that an action was brought in accordance with
a specific procedure provided by law – see, for example, [Dem.] 59.66; Dem. 24.32, 34-8; 32.1;
33. 2-3; 35.3; 43.7,15,16.
12 On the epobolia see MacDowell 2008.
13 On the graphe pseudokleteias see [Dem.] 53.14-18.
147
the plaint in athenian law and legal procedure
of the Athenian people while accepting money (ç¸taç av µ¸ ìcy¸ tz zç:otz ta
8¸µa ta Aиvz:av ¿ç¸µztz ìzµ¸zvav) (Hyp. Eux. 7-8).
14
When he wrote his
indictment, he followed the wording of the third offense very carefully.
The impeachment that I drew up was just and in accordance with the law, referring
to him as “an orator giving counsel against the best interests of the people and receiv-
ing money and gifts from those working against them.” Even so I was not satisfied to
bring in the impeachment before I had added underneath: “These proposals he made
against the best interests of the people, because he had taken bribes.” And I wrote
his decree underneath. And again I added: “These further proposals he made against
the best interests of the people, because he had taken bribes.” And I wrote the decree
alongside. Indeed this statement is written down five or six times because I thought
that the trial and the judgment should be just (Hyp. Eux. 29-30).
Hyperides included the three key terms “public speaker” (ç¸toçz), “not in the
best interests of the Athenian people” (µ¸ tz zç:otz ta 8¸µa ta Aиvz:av), and
“taking money” (¿ç¸µztz ìzµ¸zvovtz, ¿ç¸µztz ìz¸av) not just once but sever-
al times.
15
He also included texts of the decrees Philocrates had proposed when he
committed these offenses. The complete document must have been rather long.
The charges in the eisangelia brought by Polyeuctus against Euxenippus contained
the same terms from the statute: “speaking against the best interests of the people
of Athens and taking money and gifts from those acting against the Athenian peo-
ple” (Hyp. Eux. 39). After Lycurgus drew up his indictment against Leocrates using
the same procedure, several people approached him and asked why he did not in-
clude in it the charge that Leocrates had “betrayed” his father’s statue dedicated in
the temple of Zeus the Savior. Even though Lycurgus did not include this charge,
it contained the key word “betrayed” (nço8c8a×cvz:) from the statute about ei-
sangelia (Lyc. Leocr. 136-7). When Lycurgus initiated the same procedure against
Lycophron for seducing the wife of Charippus, he included in his plaint a state-
ment of her relatives that during her wedding Lycophron followed her and tried
to persuade her to avoid having sexual relations with Charippus (Hyp. Lyc. 12).
He also wrote that Lycophron was making many women stay indoors and grow
old unmarried, while forcing many others into unsuitable and illegal marriages.
Even though his use of this procedure was highly unusual, Lycurgus still followed
the language of the statute by stating that these actions undermined the democ-
racy by violating the laws (Hyp. Lyc. 12: ×ztzìcc:v tov 8¸µov nzçz¸z:v[ov]tz
toc; voµoc;).
16
When Theomnestus charged Neaira with wrongly claiming citi-

14 For discussion of the terms of the law in this passage see Whitehead 2000, 186-88.
15 Cf. Whitehead 2000, 236: Hyperides «had taken care there to echo the words and phrases
of the impeachment law itself».
16 Lyc. Leocr. 147 may be a summary of the main charges in the indictment. A fragment from
one of Lycurgus’ speeches against Lycophron (fr. 63 Conomis) indicates that the accuser’s ar-
gument was that breaking the law was equivalent to overthrowing the democracy because the
laws protected the democracy. See Whitehead 2000, 129.
148
zen-rights, he used the language of the relevant statute, which forbade foreigners
to be married to an Athenian citizen ([Dem.] 59.17, 126).
When Epaenetus brought an accusation before the Thesmothetai against
Stephanus for wrongfully holding him as a seducer, he wrote a detailed justifi-
cation of charges and quoted the relevant laws. The term moichos, which I have
translated as “seducer”, refers to someone who has illicit sexual relations with a
woman, usually the wife of another man or an unmarried daughter living under
the protection of a male relative.
17
He began by citing the law that allowed him to
bring this kind of public suit.
18
He then admitted that he had had sexual relations
with the daughter of Neaira, but denied that he had seduced her in violation of
the law. Next he presented his main arguments. First, she was not the daughter
of Stephanus, but of Neaira. Second, Neaira knew that her daughter was having
sexual relations with him. Third, he cited the law that did not permit anyone
who has sexual relations with prostitutes to be taken as a seducer and argued
that the house of Stephanus was a house of prostitution. Epaenetus closely fol-
lows both the law about the procedure he is following, presents the main facts he
promises to prove, and the law about prostitutes he will use to support his case.
19

His plaint was clearly very long and detailed.
20
The plaint that Meletus brought
against Socrates for impiety appears to have been shorter but still contained the
main charges and facts alleged against the philosopher. Meletus alleged that Soc-
rates was guilty because 1) he corrupted the youth; 2) he did not believe in the
gods that the community of Athens recognized, and 3) he introduced new gods
(Pl. Ap. 24b-c; cf. Euthphr. 3b).
21
In a public suit against an illegal decree, the plaint not only stated the charge
against the proposer of the decree but also listed the laws that the decree contra-
vened (Aeschin. 3. 200) and the specific clauses of the decree that were illegal.
22


17 See Kapparis 1999, 297-8 for discussion with references to earlier scholarship.
18 Kapparis 1999, 308-13 does not discuss the nature of the plaint brought by Epaenetus.
19 To prove his statements about Epaenetus’ plaint, Apollodorus does not have the secre-
tary read the plaint but calls the sureties and arbitrators who brought about a settlement
([Dem.] 59.70). This plaint was evidently not kept in the archives because Epaenetus withdrew
his charge before the case came to court ([Dem.] 59.68-9). On withdrawing charges before the
anakrisis, see Harris 2006, 405-22.
20 The charges mentioned by Demosthenes (19.8) in his prosecution of Aeschines were prob-
ably listed in the plaint: 1) Aeschines made no true report; 2) prevented the people from hearing
the truth from Demosthenes; 3) his proposals were not in the interests of Athens; 4) Aeschines
did not obey the instructions in the decree about the embassy; 5) Aeschines wasted time during
which the city lost opportunities, and 6) Aeschines accepted gifts and payments. Demosthenes
repeats several of these charges at 278-9.
21 I am skeptical about the authenticity of the denunciation of Alcibiades brought by Thes-
salus (Plut. Alc. 22.4; cf. 19. 2-3). For a defense of its authenticity see Frost 1961; Stadter 1989,
LXIX-LXXI, and Pelling 2000, 27.
22 Cf. [Dem.] 58.46: if Theocrines brought a graphe paranomon, he would have added the laws
violated by the defendant in his indictment.
149
the plaint in athenian law and legal procedure
When Diodorus accused Aristocrates of proposing an illegal decree for Charide-
mus, he included in the plaint all the laws Aristocrates had violated: 1) the law
about the Areopagus; 2) the law about convicted murderers; 3) the law about
bringing convicted murderers to the Thesmothetai; 4) the law about just homi-
cide; 5) the law requiring trials for all accused of murder; 6) the law about taking
hostages; 7) the law about laws being the same for all individuals, and 8) and the
law requiring that no decree take precedence over a law (Dem. 23. 215-18; cf. 51).
Demosthenes (18.56-9) says that Aeschines’ indictment of Ctesiphon singled out
three clauses in his decree of honors: 1) that Demosthenes always speaks and acts
for the public benefit; 2) that Demosthenes should receive a crown, and 3) that
the award of the crown should be announced in the theater of Dionysus.
23
When
Diodorus charged Androtion with proposing an illegal decree of honors for the
Council, he included in his plaint the laws that he claimed Androtion had vio-
lated (Dem. 22.34). These included the law requiring all decrees of the Assembly
receive prior approval from the Council (Dem. 22.5-7), the law forbidding honors
for members of the Council who have not had triremes built (Dem. 22.8), and the
law forbidding prostitutes and public debtors to propose motions in the Assem-
bly (Dem. 22. 21-24, 33-4).
24
The plaint in a private suit also included a description of the main facts the
plaintiff had to prove and followed the language of the relevant statute. Dionysius
of Halicarnassus (Din. 3) gives the text of a plaint brought by Dinarchus against
Proxenus: “Dinarchus, the son of Sostratus, a Corinthian, (brings a case of) dam-
age against Proxenus. Proxenus harmed (c¸ìz¦c) me by receiving into his house
in the country when I had fled from Athens and returned to Chalcis, two hundred
and eighty-five gold staters, which I had sent from Chalcis with Proxenus’ know-
ledge and which I had when I came to his house, and silver items worth not less
than twenty mnai. He plotted against these.” As in the plaints brought in public
cases, the charges contain the key word from the statute (c¸ìz¦c) and specify
the facts the accuser seeks to prove.
25
The law about damage also contained dif-
ferent penalties for damage caused willingly, for which there was double com-
pensation, and damage caused involuntarily, for which there was simple com-
pensation (Dem. 21.43). This is probably the reason why Dinarchus added the
phrase to show that Proxenus had acted willingly, which would have entitled him
to double compensation. When Apollodorus brought his charge of false testimo-
23 Aeschines’ charges: Aeschin. 3.9-31 (Ctesiphon’s decree awarded a crown to an official who
had not yet passed his euthynai), 32-48 (the decree provided for an announcement of the crown
in the theater of Dionysus), 49-170 (the decree contains false statements).
24 The plaint in charges against inexpedient laws may also have contained texts of the laws
violated by the new laws, but the two preserved speeches delivered in cases brought on this
procedure, Demosthenes’ Against Leptines and Against Timocrates, do not discuss the plaint.
25 Compare the use of the word c¸ìz¦c in the plaints mentioned at Dem 36. 20. For a plaint in
a private suit for damages specifying the actions of the defendant see also Dem. 52.14.
150
ny (¦cc8oµzçtcç:av) against Stephanus, he stated in his plaint: “Stephanus gave
false testimony against me (tz ¦cc8¸ µoc ×ztcµzçtcç¸oc) by testifying to the
written statements contained in the document” and added a copy of Stephanus’
testimony (Dem. 45.9-11, 46). When Theopompus made his claim for the estate
of Hagnias, he was careful to include in his written statement that he was the
son of a cousin, basing his claim on the precise wording of the relevant statute
(Is. 11.18). When an accuser brought an indictment for homicide before the Ar-
eopagus, his sworn statement included the verb “killed” (c×tc:vc) found in the
law about the jurisdiction of the Areopagus (Lys. 10.11; Dem. 23. 24-5).
The plaint that Pantaenetus made against Nicobulus also contains many de-
tails about the defendant’s actions.
26
First, it states that Nicobulus made a plot
against him and his property and that he instructed his slave to carry out the
plot. Second, Nicobulus placed his slave in his mining works and forbade him
to continue working them (Dem. 37. 25). The third charge appears to have been
related to the slaves of Pantaenetus. The summary of Nicobulus does not allow
us to determine the nature of the fourth charge (Dem. 37. 28), but the fifth charge
was that Nicobulus had violated the contract, probably by seizing the mining
works (Dem. 37. 29). At the end of the plaint were several additional charges in-
cluding assault, outrage, violence, and offenses against heiresses (Dem. 37.32-3),
but Nicobulus does not specify what actions Pantaenetus accused him of com-
mitting. Later in the speech, however, Nicobulus reveals that Pantaenetus
charged him with entering his house and going into the rooms of his daughters
(Dem. 37.45). In his plaint in a maritime suit Zenothemis stated that he had
made a loan to Hegestratus on the security of a cargo and that after Hegestratus
was lost at sea Demo misappropriated the cargo (Dem. 32. 2, 4).
27
As in the plaints
for public charges, those for private charges also contained the main facts the
accuser intended to prove.
The plaint in a suit for damages might contain a detailed list of sums. Dem-
osthenes says that his plaint against Aphobus began: “Demothenes makes the
following charges against Aphobus: Aphobus holds money belonging to me,

26 The inserted documents at Dem. 37. 22 and 29 must be forgeries because the statements
they contain are not consistent with the information found in the speech. First, the document
uses the first person singular, but other examples of plaints use only the third person (Dem.
21.103; Ar. Vesp. 894-97). Second, the narrative states that Evergus seized the mining works of
Pantaenetus and caused him to become a public debtor. This implies that Pantaenetus became
a public debtor because he could not operate his mining works and earn the money needed to
make his payments to the state. Pantaenetus also claimed that Evergus and Nicobulus violated
their agreement by seizing his mining works (Dem. 37.6). The document at 22 however states
that Pantaenetus became a state debtor because Nicobulus’ slave seized the money his slave was
taking to make the payment for the mine. The document at 29 states that Nicobulus violated
the agreement by selling the mining works and the slave, but this is at odds with the statement
at Dem. 37.6. This casts doubt on the other inserted documents at Dem.37. 25, 26 and 28.
27 Cf. the charges in the plaint summarized and read out at Dem. 34.16.
151
the plaint in athenian law and legal procedure
which he received as guardian, eighty mnai, which he received as the dowry of
my mother according to the will of my father” (Dem. 29.31). He then listed all
the items he claimed, “specifying the source of each, the exact amount, and the
person from whom Aphobus received it” (Dem. 29.30). These items included 1)
money from the sale of slaves for his mother’s dowry (Dem. 27.13-17); 2) money
owed from the failure to return the dowry (Dem. 27.17); 3) thirty mnai from
revenue of a workshop and the sale of slaves (Dem. 27.18-22); 4) money from
twenty slaves given as security for a loan (Dem. 27. 24-29); 5) the value of iron and
ivory from the workshop (Dem. 27.30-33), and 6) cash left with the guardians and
the interest accruing (Dem. 27.33-39). Demosthenes was also careful to mention
that Aphobus received this money in his capacity as guardian (cn:tçon¸;), using
the key word in the statute governing the procedure he had selected.
28
Once
again, the plaint must have been very long.
The counter-plea might contain the basic facts the defendant intended to
prove. In his reply to the charges of Apollodorus, Stephanus replied that his tes-
timony was true (Dem. 45.46). When the half-brother of Astyphilus brought
his case against Cleon, he not only claimed the estate of Astyphilus but outlined
his main arguments and the facts he intended to prove: first, Astyphilus did not
adopt Cleon’s son; second, Astyphylus did not leave his property to anyone; third,
Astyphilus did not make a will; and fourth, he has the best claim on the property
of Astyphilus (Is. 9.1).
Even though Athenian law contained nothing like the prescribed phrases of
the Roman formulary system, one should not exaggerate the difference between
the two systems. When the accuser drew up his plaint he had to follow the lan-
guage of the statute.
29
If the plaint did not contain the key words of the relevant
statute, the magistrate who received the charge might compel the accuser to
add them. When Dionysius used the procedure of apagoge to the Eleven against
Agoratus, he charged him with killing his father. For one to use this procedure,
however, one had to apprehend the defendant ep’ autophoro, that is, in circum-
stances that made his guilt obvious.
30
To make the plaint Dionysius submitted
conform to the language of the statute, the Eleven insisted that he add the key
term ep’autophoro to the charge (Lys. 13.85-87).
One of the reasons for requiring the accuser to write the specific charges
he intended to prove at the trial was to ensure procedural fairness for the de-
fendant. The defendant needed to know not only the kind of action the accuser


28 Note that the key word cn:tçon¸ was also written in the plaint against Aristaechmus who
was accused of misappropriating the property of his wards (Dem. 38.15).
29 Note that the diamartyria submitted by Leochares against the claim of Leostratus to the es-
tate of Archiades followed the terms of the law ([Dem.] 44.46: ovtav zcta nz:8av yv¸o:av ×z:
×cç:a; ×ztz tov Ðcoµov).
30 For the procedure and the meaning of the term ep’ autophoro see Harris 2006, 373-90.
152
had brought but also to know what the accuser claimed that he had done. This
would allow him to prepare a detailed reply to each one of the charges. T. Bing-
ham rightly stresses the importance of informing the defendants about charges
against them:
The fair trial of a civil action is now held to require the parties to reveal their respec-
tive cases and almost all material relevant to them before the trial even begins. The
point of the law is that litigation should be conducted with the ‘cards face up on the
table’. This is achieved, first, by requiring the claimant to set out in writing in some
detail the grounds on which he claims. He cannot appear at trial and present a case
different from that which he has advanced in writing. The defendant in turn must
set out in some detail in writing the ground on which he resists the claim. He cannot
simply deny the claim and leave the claimant and the judge wondering what his de-
fence is. Nor can he appear at trial and advance a defence different from that indicated.
Thus the line of battle should be drawn with some precision before the first shot is
fired in court.
31
The accuser was also required to provide at the anakrisis all the evidence he
planned to present at the trial.
32
This evidence was then placed in a container
called an echinos; the accuser could not present at the trial any evidence of docu-
ments not placed in the echinos. On the other hand, the reply of the defendant
would also let the accuser know how he planned to reply to his charges.
33
Of course, there was always the possibility that at the trial the accuser might
make charges that were not contained in the indictment. Hyperides (Eux. 32)
describes how this tactic might put the defendant in a difficult position: if the
defendant were to reply to charges not contained in the indictment, the court
might reprimand him for discussing irrelevant matters, but if he were to neglect
them, the court might assume they were true. Several defendants complain about
this tactic. A soldier accused of slandering generals claims that instead of concen-
trating on the charges in the plaint his opponents are slandering his character
(Lys. 9.1-3). When defending Ctesiphon, Demosthenes (18.9) criticizes Aeschines
for using this tactic: “because he has spent the larger part of his speech on other
topics and told very many lies about me, I think that it is necessary and correct to
say a few words about these charges so that none of you be misled by irrelevant
arguments and listen to my just points about the indictment in a hostile spirit.”
For instance, Aeschines when prosecuting Timarchus complained that Demos-
thenes would attempt to distract the judges from the charges by talking about
the recent peace with Philip and other irrelevant matters (Aeschin. 1.166-70). In
the speech Against Androtion the accuser Diodorus complains that the defendant

31 Bingham 2010, 101.
32 See Thür 2007.
33 On the anticipation of arguments in Athenian courts see Dorjahn 1935, who may underes-
timate the amount of information obtained through the plaint and at the anakrisis.
153
the plaint in athenian law and legal procedure
is skilled in rhetoric and that he will deceive the judges and make them forget
about their oath (Dem. 22.4).
34
Hyperides exaggerates the problem because there was a safeguard protecting
the defendant. In their oath Athenian judges swore to vote only about the charges
in the indictment (Dem. 45.50).
35
This meant that when casting their votes, the
judges should consider only the facts that the accuser promised to prove and dis-
regard all statements that did not bear directly on these charges (cça toc nçzy-
µzto;). In fact, Hyperides (Eux. 35-6) reports that Lysander charged Epicrates of
Pallene with digging his mine inside the limits of another man’s mine and tried
to sway their decision by promising to bring in three hundred talents for the
city’s budget.
36
“The judges paid no attention to the accuser’s promises but fol-
lowed what justice required: they determined that the mine was inside its own
boundaries and by that same vote made their property secure and confirmed the
rest of their period for working the mine.” The accuser’s promise did not sway
the judges; they paid attention to the law and the facts of the case. When they saw
that the defendant’s actions did not violate the law and that he was not guilty of
the charge of encroaching on another’s mine, he was acquitted.
Another way of distracting the judges from the charges in the plaint was for
the defendant to boast about his public service. Lysias (12.38) notes how some
defendants make no attempt to answer the charges against them but “show that
they are good soldiers, or have captured many ships from the enemy, or have
made cities that were hostile into your friends.” Several passages however show
that the courts ignored such statements because they were strictly irrelevant to
the charges contained in the plaint.
37
Aeschines (3.195) says that the court that
tried Thrasybulus on a charge of proposing an illegal decree did not take into
account his role in restoring the democracy but convicted him because he was
guilty as charged. When Aristophon charged Timotheus with bribery, the court
paid no attention to his victories and conquests but convicted him on the charge
Aristophon brought: “You did not allow public services like these to influence the
trial or the oath that you obeyed while casting your votes, but you fined him one
hundred talents because Aristophon said he received money from the Chians and
Rhodians” (Din. 1.14). According to Demosthenes (21.143-47), the court did not al-
low the achievements of Alcibiades and his ancestors to affect their decision, but

34 See also Dem. 21. 208, 211 where Demosthenes predicts some wealthy trierarchs will ask the
judges to acquit Meidias as a favor to them and to pay no attention to their oath. Cf. Dem. 23.95,
219 for attempts to distract the judges.
35 This clause is mentioned or alluded to many times in forensic oratory: Aeschin. 1.154, 170;
Dem. 22.4, 43, 45; 24.189; 30.9; 32.13; 37.17; Is. 6.51-2; Lyc. Leocr. 11-13.
36 For the nature of the charge see Whitehead 2000, 248-9 with references to earlier litera-
ture.
37 Pace Lanni 2005 and 2006, 46-64 who does not discuss the plaint and its role in litigation.
154
sent him into exile for violating the law.
38
When Epicrates was accused of bribery
and other offenses in the Assembly, Demosthenes (19. 277) tells us that his ser-
vice in restoring the democracy did not help him to win acquittal. The written
plaint was an important way of checking this abuse. The plaint compelled the
defendant to reply to the specific charges against him and prevented him from
introducing irrelevant material. The plaint also served to keep the judges focused
on their duty to punish those who had violated the law.
39
After the trial was over, the plaint was kept on file, probably in the Metroon.
40

According to Aristotle (Pol. 6.5.4.1321b34-37), the normal Greek city-state kept
records about the verdicts in trials. Athens was no exception to this general
rule.
41
Several passages show that documents containing the charges were kept
in the archives after the trial was concluded. The first comes from Demosthenes’
speech Against Zenothemis. Zenothemis brought two separate suits against Pro-
tus and Demo in a dispute about loans made on the security of grain shipments
(Dem. 32.4). Protus did not contest the charges brought by Zenothemis and lost
his case by default. When Zenothemis brought his case against Demo, the latter
charged that the suit was not admissible and brought a paragraphe action. At the
trial he cited the statements made by Zenothemis in his plaint against Protus and
used them as evidence in his own case (Dem. 32. 27).
42
The second comes from
Demosthenes’ speech Against Nausimachus and Xenopeithes. Nausimachus and

38 Demosthenes alters some of the details to make Alcibiades’ case resemble that of Meidias,
but that does not alter his point that the courts paid no attention to public service. For examples
of other men who were convicted despite their public service see Dem. 24.133-35 (Thrasybulus,
Philepsius, Agyrrhius, and Myronides) and Hdt. 6.136.1-3.
39 Note Antiphon 5.11 – the judges are to consider only whether the defendant committed
the crime. Compare also Lys. 16.9, which contrasts the dokimasia, at which it was permitted to
discuss the candidate’s entire life, with regular trials, at which the accuser had to limit himself
to proving the charges in the plaint. Rhodes 2004 observes that Athenian litigants generally
keep to the point, but he does not discuss the role of the plaint. Rhodes never defines what he
means by “relevant” and his judgment of what is relevant and what is not in the speeches is
often arbitrary.
40 Pace Gagarin 2008, 195: «But verdicts in general were not officially recorded». In footnote
49 Gagarin claims «although speakers often mention the result of a previous case (…) no speak-
er mentions writing in connection with the verdict in a private case». The evidence cited below
(overlooked by Gagarin) shows that the plaint, which presumably recorded the court’s decision,
was in fact kept in the archives. Records of verdicts may have also been kept at the Aiakeion (see
Stroud 1994).
41 Cf. the anecdote of Chamaeleon of Heraclea (fr. 44 Wehrli = Athen. 9.407b-c) about Alcib-
iades entering the Metroon and erasing the indictment against his friend Hegemon of Thasos.
According to Diogenes Laertius (2.40) the indictment of Meletus against Socrates was still in
the Metroon during the second century CE. Sickinger 1999, 131-33 is rightly skeptical about the
veracity of Chamaeleon’s anecdote and the document in Diogenes Laertius, but this does not
mean that other plaints could not have been preserved in the Metroon.
42 The accuser of Pancleon uses his statement in his reply to a charge made by Aristodicus in
the same way, but, instead of having the document read by the secretary, calls Aristodicus as a
witness (Lys. 23.13-14).
155
the plaint in athenian law and legal procedure
Xenopeithes had brought separate suits against their guardian Aristaechmus
for damages when they reached the age of majority. They reached a settlement
with Aristaechmus, who paid them three talents and was given a release (Dem.
38.3-4). After the death of Aristaechmus, however, Nausimachus and Xenopei-
thes brought separate suits against each of his four children. One of the children
brought a paragraphe against this claim on the grounds that a release had been
granted (Dem. 38.4-5). At the trial, the son had the text of the plaint in their earli-
er suit against Aristaechmus read out (Dem. 38.14).
The third passage comes from Isaeus’ speech On the Estate of Pyrrhus. Pyrrhus
had adopted Endius, who inherited his estate and survived him for twenty years
(Is. 3.1). After he died a woman named Phile claimed that she was the legitimate
daughter of Pyrrhus, and her kyrios Xenocles of Kopros, claimed the estate on her
behalf (Is. 3.2). The sister of Pyrrhus also claimed the estate, but Xenocles chal-
lenged her claim with a diamartyria. In response to this diamartyria the son of Pyr-
rhus’ mother brought a charge of false testimony against Xenocles and obtained
a conviction against him (Is. 3.3-4). He then brought another charge of false testi-
mony against Nicodemus, the brother of Phile’s mother, who had testified about
his sister’s marriage to Pyrrhus (Is. 3.4-7). At the trial of Nicodemus, the son of Pyr-
rhus’ mother had the clerk read out the diamartyria brought by Xenocles and used
it as evidence to prove that the defendant had given false testimony (Is. 3.6-7).
Even if the accuser did not follow through on a public charge, a copy of his
indictment was still kept on file. For instance, Theocrines denounced Micon
concerning a merchant ship using the procedure of phasis ([Dem.] 58.5).
43
Theo-
crines gave the denunciation to Euthyphemus, the secretary of the overseers of
the port, who posted the charge in front of their office ([Dem.] 58.8).
44
Theocrines
came to an illegal agreement with Micon, withdrew the charge, and convinced
Euthyphemus to erase the denunciation just as the overseers were summoning
Theocrines to the preliminary hearing ([Dem.] 58.8-10). Even though the copy
that was posted before the office of the overseers was erased, the original copy of
the plaint was kept on file and was read out by the clerk when Theocrines was lat-
er brought to trial for making an illegal settlement with Micon ([Dem.] 58.7-8).
For the litigants there were two main reasons for keeping the plaint on file.
First, it protected the defendant from any further charges. The laws of Athens
provided that once a case was settled or decided, one could not bring another

43 On this procedure one can consult MacDowell 1991; Hansen 1991 and Wallace 2003.
MacDowell and Hansen believe that there was one law about phasis, but it is more likely that
this procedural term was found in several different laws and that in each law it had a slightly
different meaning suited to the substantive context. To this extent I would agree with Wallace,
but do not find convincing his general conclusions about Athenian laws.
44 On these officials see Din. 2.10; SEG 26.72, lines 41-44 with Stroud 1974, 180-81; Arist. Ath.
Pol. 51.4.
156
case against the same person on the same charge (Dem. 20.147; 37.18, 21).
45
If an
accuser did attempt to violate this rule by bringing a second charge on the same
grounds, it was important for the defendant to have a public document on record
to prove that the case had already been decided. This is the way the son of Aristae-
chmus used the plaint in his case against Nausimachus and Xenopeithes. Second,
if one initiated a public charge, then failed to bring the case to trial, the accuser
lost the right to bring any more public charges. Therefore even if the accuser did
not follow through on his prosecution, it was important to keep the plaint in the
archives because it provided evidence for his partial loss of rights (atimia). This
is the way the accuser who prosecuted Theocrines used the plaint. Third parties
could also use the evidence of the plaint to establish facts that might support
their cases. This is the way Demo used the plaint in his case against Zenothemis.
The plaint was not the only record of trials in Athens. The poletai recorded
the sales of confiscated properties and often included details about legal pro-
cedures and verdicts. For instance, in the records for the years 342/1-339/8 the
poletai reported the confiscation of properties owned by Philocrates, the son of
Pythodorus, from the deme of Hagnous. The document lists the properties con-
fiscated, then adds “all the properties of Philocrates, son of Pythodorus, [of Hag-
nous, being confiscated] since Philokrates did not appear for [the trial] according
to the public indictment which was brought against him by Hyperides, son of
Glaukippos, of Kollytos, but was convicted in absentia by the court.” (trans. Merit-
t).
46
There is a more lengthy entry in the records of 367/6 for the property of Theo-
sebes, who was convicted on a charge of impiety and did not show up at his tri-
al.
47
In this case, several creditors came forward to present claims to his property,
and the document records the amounts claimed and the decision to pay these
claims. Most of the entries are much more brief and record properties reported
by the apographe procedure. Even though these documents do record the verdicts
of trials or other legal procedures, their main functions were different from the
plaints that were kept in the Metroon. One function was financial: these records
kept track of public revenues gained by sales of confiscated property. Another
was to ensure the accountability of the poletai and to prevent embezzlement by
these officials. A third function was to provide proof of ownership for those who
purchased the confiscated properties.
48
The supervisors of the fleet also kept records that might include the verdicts
of trials. Each trierarch had the duty to return the ship in good repair to the dock-

45 For this point see Faraguna 2006, 206.
46 For the text see Langdon, in Lalonde, Langdon & Walbank 1991, P26, lines 446-60. There
appears to be another entry for property confiscated from Philocrates, which uses similar lan-
guage: cf. P26, lines 399-402.
47 For the text see P5, lines 8-39.
48 On the documents about land ownership in Attica see Faraguna 1997.
157
the plaint in athenian law and legal procedure
yards of the fleet.
49
The Supervisors (epimeletai) of the dockyards in conjunction
with a tester (dokimastes) inspected the triremes when they returned, classified
them as in good shape or not, and reported their findings to the Council.
50
If
there was damage to the ship or it was lost, the trierarch could be held financially
responsible, and the case was heard before a court, which might impose a penalty
of double the value of what was lost.
51
The trierarch could present an excuse (skep-
sis) and claim that the loss or damage was caused by a storm. If the court accepted
his excuse, the trierarch was exonerated.
52
One entry in the records of the Super-
visors for the year 325/4 states that the trierarchs Euthydicus, the son of Antiph-
anes of Phegai and Diphilus the son of Diopeithes of Sounion presented such an
excuse and were acquitted (IG II
2
1629,

lines 771-80). In cases of acquittal like this
one, these records would protect the defendant against any further legal action.
Another entry is longer and more detailed (IG II
2
1631, lines 350-403).
53
A trea-
surer named Cephisodorus had not returned the equipment for ten triremes
(IG II
2
1631, lines 357-59). After he died, the supervisors of the dockyards brought
charges against his brother Sopolis in 325/4, and the court imposed a fine for
more than double the value of the equipment (IG II
2
1631, lines 353-60). Sopo-
lis returned some oars, but all of his property was declared subject to confisca-
tion and reported by Polyeuctus (IG II
2
1631, lines 360-65). Polyeuctus however
allowed Sopolis to keep his share of the reward so that he could retain his rights
as a citizen (IG II
2
1631, lines 365-8). He also passed a decree in the Council pro-
tecting Sopolis against any further claims on his property (IG II
2
1631, lines 350-2,
368-403).
A fourth kind of record recording the outcome of trials are the so-called diadi-
kasia-documents. Evidence for these records is provided by eight inscriptions.
54

The headings of three of these inscriptions contain the phrase o:8c 8:c8:×zozv-
to (“the following men brought a diadikasia-procedure”). The heading of one of
these inscriptions is dated by the archon Phanostratus and the secretary Cleide-
mus to the year 383/2 (IG II
2
1930, lines 1-2). The heading of another inscription
has the same secretary (IG II
2
1931, lines 1-2). A third inscription contains the
names of two archons (380/79) and (381/0) («Hesperia» 15, 1946, 160, no. 17,
lines 1-3). Each list contains a series of entries beginning with a name in the nom-
inative with a patronymic, followed by the preposition zvt: (“instead of”) and a
name in the genitive with the patronymic. One of the lists is organized by demes

49 For the duties of trierarchs see Gabrielsen 1994, 105-69.
50 For the role of the Council in supervising the fleet see Arist. Ath. Pol. 46.1 with Rhodes 1972,
115-22 and 153-58.
51 For references see Rhodes 1972, 154, note 2.
52 IG II
2
1629, lines 746-49, 796-99; 1631, lines 115-20, 140-43, 148-52.
53 On this case see Gabrielsen 1994, 163-64.
54 IG II
2
1928-32; «Hesperia» 7, 1938, 277, no. 12; 306, no. 29; «Hesperia» 15, 1946, 160, no. 17.
158
(IG II
2
1932) while another contains demotics as well as patronymics («Hespe-
ria» 15, 1946, 160, no. 17). The obvious explanation for these entries is that the
first person challenged the second person to undertake his duties in a diadikasia
and that as a result of the trial, the second person replaced him.
55
There has been
some debate about the nature of the public duties at issue in these legal proceed-
ings, but Davies has made a strong case for relating them to a group called the
Thousand, who were liable for payment of the eisphora early in the fourth centu-
ry BCE.
56
Like the records of trials involving trierarchs, these records were kept
mainly for financial purposes: their aim was to provide an authoritative list of
those required to pay the eisphora. They also protected those who brought the
challenge from further liability for the eisphora. As with the records of trials in-
volving trierarchs, they served both the financial interests of the state and the
legal rights of individuals.
A fifth kind of document recording the verdicts in trials are the records of
dedications of phialai made by metics preserved in a series of fragmentary in-
scriptions. The standard formula in these records is “x, living in [deme], having
escaped (= escaped conviction by) y, phialê by weight 100” while the most detailed
version of the formula is “x, living in [deme], [profession], escaped y, son of yy, of
[deme], phialê by weight 100.”
57
I give a sample of three entries:
“Soteris, living in Alopeke [a pedd]ler(?), having escaped (conviction by) Sostratos of
Hermos (and) Timarchides of Euonymon, phialê by w[eigh]t: 100.”
“Eutychis, a peddler, having escaped (conviction by) Sostratus (and?) Mnesistratus of
Alopeke, phialê by weight: [100].”
“P(hi)linna, living in Pirae(us), having escaped (conviction by) Astynomos from Oia,
phialê by weight: 100.”
The nature of these trials depends on how one restores the heading in the cyma-
tion of IG II
2
1578. Meyer has recently restored the lines to read: “These dedicat-
ed. [All received or listed] when Demoteles, son of Antimachos, of Halieus, was
polemarch, according to the law, from the graphai aprostasiou, on the fifteenth
of Hekatombaion.”
58
Many other scholars have however restored the private ac-
tion dike apostasiou, and some have argued that these trials were legal fictions
that were actually manumissions.
59
This is not the place to enter into this con-
troversy.
60
The only point I wish to make is that the primary purpose of these

55 On the diadikasia for liturgies see Harrison 1971, 237-8.
56 Davies 1981, 133-50.
57 See Meyer 2010, 12-3.
58 See Meyer 2010, 133-35.
59 For discussion see Meyer 2010, 17-28 and 43-7 with references to the views of earlier
scholars.
60 My own view is that Meyer is correct to reject the idea that these trials were manumis-
sions effected by the legal fiction of a trial on a charge of apostasiou. I am skeptical however
159
the plaint in athenian law and legal procedure
inscriptions is to record dedications, which make them similar to the records of
dedications in the Parthenon and Erechtheum.
61
That is why they give the weight
of the dedication and do not specify the nature of the legal action. They aim to
prevent embezzlement by officials, not to provide a record of a trial. Even though
the records of the poletai about confiscations, the naval inventories and the dedi-
cations of phialai report the verdicts in trials, they are really financial records that
mention verdicts rather than records of trials.
62
If there was a trial in the Assembly and the defendant was found guilty, there
was a decree recording the grounds for conviction and the penalty imposed.
63

At the trial of Aeschines in 343, Demosthenes (19. 276-80) had the clerk read out
the decree condemning Epicrates and other ambassadors to death. He quotes
several of the phrases from the decree: “Since they conducted the embassy con-
trary to their instructions,” “and some of them were proved to have been mak-
ing an untrue report in the Council,” “and sending untrue letters,” and “telling
lies against our allies and accepting gifts.” The decree clearly contained the main
charges against the ambassadors even though it did not provide precise details
about their actions.
64
The final type of judicial document to be noted are the lists of those de-
nounced for the desecration of the Herms and the parody of the Mysteries. At
his trial in 400/399 Andocides mentions four denunciations about the parody
of the Mysteries by Andromachus (Andoc. 1.12-13), Teucrus (Andoc. 1.15), the wife
of Alcmaeonides (Andoc. 1.16) and Lydus, the slave of Pherecles (Andoc. 1.17). In
the first two cases Andocides has the clerk read the documents containing their
names and two lists of names are found inserted into the text. Andocides then

about the restoration noìcµzç¿ocv]to; and the restorations yçzçz: znço]otzo:oc and
8:×z: zno]otzo:oc at IG II
2
1578, lines 1-2. A search through the PHI database yielded not a
single parallel for any of these expressions in Attic inscriptions. I would tentatively suggest
cn:]otzo:oc (“office of epistates”) which is attested at IG II
2
1635, line 71; 1651, line 10, and 1672,
line 74.
61 On these see D. Harris 1995.
62 The trials mentioned in the financial records of the Amphictyons of Delos fall into this cate-
gory. See IG II
2
1641B, lines 22-33; 1646, lines 3-14 with Stumpf 1987, and IDélos 98, B, lines
24-30. Cf. Faraguna 2006, 202: «per una corretta valutazione del loro significato, è importante
ricordare che essi ci sono invariabilmente tramandati in rendiconti di carattere finanziario e
ciò in quanto gli atti giudiziari di cui conservano memoria avevano conseguenze, in termini di
entrata o di mancate entrate, per l’amministrazione dei magistrati che li ‘allegavano’ nei loro
ìoyo:».
63 Cf. Sickinger 1999, 133: «If the Metroon preserved any records of a judicial nature, these
will have been the records of trials that were initiated or conducted before the Boule or Ekkle-
sia». He cites Kahrstedt 1938, 27.
64 At the trial of Leocrates Lycurgus had the clerk read out the decree about the trial of Phryn-
ichus and the decree condemning Hipparchus and other traitors (Lyc. Leocr. 111-119). See also
the documents at [Plut.] Mor. 833e-834b. The authenticity of all these documents however is
questionable.
160
mentions two denunciations about the desecration of the Herms by Teucrus
(Andoc. 1.34-35) and Diocleides (Andoc. 1.36-47). Andocides has the clerk read
both of these lists (Andoc. 1.13, 47). These documents appear to be genuine be-
cause they contain names not provided by the orator but confirmed by the Attic
stelai (IG I
3
421-422).
65
The nature and function of these documents are slightly
mysterious. In his speech Andocides says that some of those denounced fled the
country and were sentenced to death while Plystratus was arrested and executed
(Andoc. 1.13), but the document inserted into the text gives only names and does
not indicate the verdict or punishment. One wonders if these names were list-
ed on a stele containing the names of all those condemned in the two scandals,
which was similar to the list of traitors mentioned by Lycurgus (Leocr. 118-19) or
the stele about the injustice of the Peisistratids set up on the Acropolis (Thuc.
6.55.1-2). What is important for our topic is that these documents were obviously
kept in the archives and that Andocides uses these documents to prove that he
did not commit the crime of impiety (Andoc. 1.10).
Nothing could better illustrate the importance of writing for Athenian legal
procedure than the written plaint.
66
Even though litigants made oral presenta-
tions to the court, the shape and content of their speeches was determined to a
large extent by the contents of the written plaint. If the accuser wished to gain a
favorable decision, he had to prove the exact charges contained in the plaint. The
plaint also compelled the accuser to show that the defendant had violated a spe-
cific law or set of laws. If the defendant wished to be acquitted, he had to answer
and refute all the written charges against him. The plaint also served to define
and clarify the issues the judges would have to decide. After the trial was over, the
plaint was kept in the archives, probably in the Metroon, and served as evidence
for the court’s decision. In this way, the document played an important role in
maintaining the principle of res iudicata.
67

65 The names Cephisodorus, Oionias and Hephaestorus, found in the documents but not in
the rest of the speech, are attested in the Attic Stelai (IG I
3
421, line 33 [Cephisodorus]; line 10
[Hephaestodorus]; 422, lines 217, 219, 375 [Oionias]).
66 On the role of writing in Athenian legal procedure see Faraguna 2008.
67 I would like to thank Michele Faraguna for inviting me to participate in the conference and
all the participants for helpful comments and encouragement. I would also like to thank James
Sickinger for reading over a draft of this essay and making several helpful suggestions. I have
also profited from reading an unpublished essay of his on the publication of verdicts.
161 the plaint in athenian law and legal procedure
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163
archives in classical greece: some observations
Archives in Classical Athens:
Some Observations
michele faraguna
Through their different interests and approaches, the three papers of this session
have presented an overview of the main questions in the current scholarly de-
bate on archives and archival practices in classical Greece. To some extent, we
can be reproached for only focusing on Athens – archives and corpora of archival
documents are also known from other cities of mainland Greece (notably Argos,
where a recently discovered “archive” comprising 134 bronze tablets dated to the
early fourth century is still unpublished)
1
and colonial areas such as Sicily and
Magna Graecia
2
– but this Athenocentric bias will be partially compensated by
the contributions of Laura Boffo and Kaja Harter. Athens nonetheless remains
unique in that – differently from other poleis – the role and organization of ar-
chives can be placed, and contextualized, within the larger frame of the institu-
tional and administrative system.
As it must have become apparent, compared to students of Ancient Mesopo-
tamia Greek historians are placed in a more disadvantaged position for archi-
1 SEG 54,427. Cf. Kritzas 2003-2004 and 2006.
2 On the lead tablets from Kamarina (SEG 42,846) see Cordano 1992; Dubois 2008, 103-14
(no. 46). For the archive of the Olympieion in Locri cf. Costabile 1992 (for a recent review of the
questions posed by the tablets and of the newest bibliography cf. Costabile 2007, 251-307 [SEG
57,935]).
164
val documents were normally written on perishable materials (whitewashed
wooden boards, waxed tablets, papyrus) and are consequently now lost. The few
exceptions are represented by records on lead or bronze, such as the “archive of
the Athenian cavalry”, a group of over 600 lead tablets dumped in the area of the
agora, which, according to the terminology employed by papyrologists (namely by
Lucia Criscuolo in her paper), should however be technically defined a “dossier”,
since they were discarded and did not all belong to the same period (nor they
were all found in the same place)
3
. The existence of archival documents must
therefore be largely inferred from the literary sources, as shown by Christophe
Pébarthe and Edward Harris, or be traced back from references to other docu-
ments not meant for display on stone, from headings, formulae or variations in
formulaic language (or contents) in inscriptions, as discussed by Shimon Epstein
in his paper, sometimes even from the way the text was laid out on the stone
(for instance when the text is organized in columns, presumably after a papyrus
model, as it frequently happens in archaic and classical legal texts from Crete)
4
.
The difficulties students of Greek archives must overcome are aptly symbo-
lised by the image we have chosen for the cover of this book. It is a reconstruction
of the Metroon – the archive of the Athenian Council and Assembly located in
the agora – in Hellenistic times
5
. It is frequently assumed, on the basis of a pas-
sage in Aristotle’s Constitution of the Athenians (47,5), that this is what the public
archive in the Metroon looked like also in the fourth century. Needless to say, Ari-
stotle’s passage has been subject to different interpretations and, as a result, the
proposed reconstructions of the “archive” vary accordingly
6
. As is well known,
archives are not archeologically traceable and the site of an ancient archive can
normally be identified only when a concentration of seals is found
7
. There is,
however, also a more subtle reason accounting for the “immaterial” substance
of ancient Greek archives, and this is the lack of a centralised repository of doc-
uments which is a recurring feature in the way polis administration was orga-
nized. Archeion, the Greek word from which our modern term “archive” is de-
rived, until the Hellenistic period indicated the office of a magistrate, arche,
where, no doubt, records were kept, but did not primarily identify the building
as the place where documents were publicly stored. In other words, in a Greek
city each public official had his own archive and, as a principle, there were as
many public archives as officials. The Metroon in Athens, where the records of
the Council and the Assembly were stored, was to some extent the central archive
3 Kroll 1977. Cf. Pébarthe 2006, 237-8.
4 Del Corso 2003, 32-5; Faraguna 2011, 14.
5 Valavanis 2002, 246-7 (figs. 10-11).
6 Sickinger 1999, 148 and 246 n. 50; Valavanis 2002, 249; Coqueugniot 2007; Papazarka-
das 2011, 73-4.
7 Invernizzi 1996; Valavanis 2002, 236-44.
165
archives in classical greece: some observations
but this is true only in so far as the Council and the Assembly transacted the most
important business for the community. Records which were outside the compe-
tence of these democratic bodies were preserved elsewhere
8
.
Christophe Pébarthe’s paper is significantly built on this assumption. On the
one hand, at a theoretical level, he has explored, and stressed, the wider implica-
tions of the study of archives and administrative procedures as a heuristic tool
for our understanding of the Greek polis as, simultaneously, a “state” and a “so-
ciety”, or, to use more concrete language, an original construction where «sans
une bureaucratie professionnelle, les Athéniens sont parvenus à construire des
institutions durables et complexes, permettant l’exercice d’une réelle autorité
sur l’ensemble du territoire». On the other hand, in the second part of his paper,
he has shown how, even in a community like Athens where citizenship was con-
ceived as participatory and exclusive, citizen registers, since the archaic age and
well before the establishment of democracy, were not centralised but, instead,
were kept locally in the almost 140 administrative units, the demes (or villages),
into which the Attic territory was divided. Full citizenship rights were acquired
only after the new member of the community had been socially and ritually in-
troduced by his father to the phratry and deme, the hereditary subgroups he was
to belong to for the whole of his life
9
. The lexiarchika grammateia, the registers
kept by the local magistrates, thus became the repository of the official informa-
tion, both on personal and economic status, the polis needed for political, military
and taxation purposes. When the army was to be mobilised, taxes and liturgies
had to be assigned or the assembly pay had to be distributed, the local registers
provided the hard data necessary to compile lists and carry out such operations
at a polis level. The functioning of the administrative system and the ability to
pool together human and material resources in other words hinged on the in-
teraction between centre and periphery and on the circulation of the relevant
information
10
.
While Christophe Pébarthe has provided us with the broad picture, Shimon
Epstein’s paper has offered us a valuable insight into the question of the rela-
tionship between the inscribed text of a document, what we can today read on
the stone, and the original records kept on file by the magistrate, on the basis
of which the inscription was prepared. He has focused on the Attic building ac-
counts pertaining to the Parthenon, the Erechtheion and construction work in
the sanctuary of Eleusis, spanning from the Periclean age (the Parthenon was built
over fifteen years between 447/6 and 433/2 BC) to the 30s and 20s of the fourth
century. The striking feature of these accounts is that they greatly differ in the
8 Faraguna 2005, esp. 72-3.
9 Whitehead 1986, 97-104; Lambert 1993, 161-89; Robertson 2000.
10 On this point see also my forthcoming article Citizen Registers in Archaic Greece: The Evidence
Reconsidered.
166
amount and the quality of the information they provide. How are such differen-
ces to be accounted for? In order to offer some general background, it must be
remembered that Athens was a democracy and that democratic procedures also
governed the building process. On the basis of other relevant contemporary evi-
dence, it must be surmised that the building of the Parthenon was first decided
by the citizens’ Assembly, and following this act the written technical specifica-
tions (syngraphai) were commissioned to an architect and then approved again by
the Council and Assembly
11
. Once construction started, a special board of magi-
strates, the epistatai, was annually appointed to oversee the development of the
project, manage all the financial aspects and contract out the execution of each
architectural element
12
. At the end of their term of office, the epistatai had to ren-
der the accounts of the euthynai. It is interesting to note that the administrative
process I have described is perfectly reflected by the Erechtheion accounts, where
we first encounter a reference to the decree of the demos authorizing resumption
of construction, and then we find 1) a survey of the already existing architectural
elements; 2) the specifications for the works to be continued; 3) lists of the indi-
vidual pieces and of the workers to whom their execution was assigned, organ-
ized by prytanies (IG I
3
474-479). The same organization is also to be found, more
than a century later, in the inscription concerning repair works to the city walls
(IG II
2
463), where, again, we have the enabling decree of the Assembly (ll. 1-34),
the syngraphai (ll. 35-118) and finally a list of the sections of the walls and of the
contractors the work had been assigned to (ll. 120-130)
13
.
As suggested by Shimon Epstein, this was the kind of documentation which
we may expect was presented by the magistrates in charge on the occasion of
their euthynai. Seen in this light, the Parthenon accounts indeed pose a problem,
as they are very much unlike the other documents we have. In order to explain
their different organization, I would like to add another possibile dimension to
those explored by Epstein, in other words the religious dimension. The accounts
of the Parthenon were inscribed on a single imposing stele, according to the re-
construction of W. Dinsmoor 1,60 meters tall, 1,80 wide and 0, 20 thick, six years
being inscribed on one face, seven on the reverse and two on the sides. It was
clearly a monument resembling the lapis primus and lapis secundus of the Atheni-
an tribute lists
14
and this makes it very likely that it was conceived as an anathema,
a dedication to Athena. It is striking that the building accounts we have both for
the fifth and for the fourth century are mostly connected to construction for reli-
gious purposes. We do not have accounts for the Periclean Odeon or for the Long
11 Carusi 2006.
12 Marginesu 2010.
13 Faraguna 2010, 134-5.
14 On these monuments cf., most recently, Miles 2011. For their original location see Monaco
2008.
167
archives in classical greece: some observations
Walls. The objective in publishing the Parthenon accounts on a large monument
was to show the goddess that her moneys were managed in a correct and pious
manner. Given this objective, details were to some extent not necessary. As Ep-
stein underlines, «the Parthenon inscriptions as we have them are hardly a con-
venient tool for democratic accountability».
Records on perishable materials nonetheless there must have been and my
guess is that they were not very different from what we get in the Erechtheion
accounts. The board of epistatai significantly not only appointed a secretary
(grammateus) who changed every year but also a syngrammateus, a co-secretary
named Antikles who held this position continuously until 437/6 and was then
“promoted” to the role of secretary until the project was completed. The pre-
sence of a permanent co-secretary shows that the amount of paperwork to han-
dle must have been not negligible. In the fourth century magistates overseeing
public building also had judicial competence and could impose fines as well as
preside over the court when legal cases resulting from breach of contract ended
up in a trial (Aesch. 3,14: o: 8c tav cçyav cn:otztz: nzvtc; ¸ycµov:z ¿çavtz:
8:×zot¸ç:oc)
15
. It can therefore be reasonably assumed that the epistatai needed
to keep detailed records of their activity.
A fundamental issue that remains open to doubt however concerns how per-
manent such records were. The epistatai of the Parthenon were an ad hoc board
specifically elected to oversee the construction of the temple and they finished
their work when the project was completed. They must have had an office on the
acropolis while building was in progress but what happened after that? We must
assume that only accounts in a shortened form were preserved and the more de-
tailed records were either discarded or privately kept. We have something simi-
lar in the fifth-century accounts of the deme of Rhamnous, where for each year
we have records concerning the moneys belonging to Nemesis given out on loan
and those in the hands of the hieropoioi (IG I
3
248). These are obviously only the
annual grand totals but, as shown by IG I
3
247bis, a lead plaque recording the
movements of money between the epistatai and the hieropoioi, more detailed re-
cords concerning each individual transaction must have existed. The tablet was
found in a cistern and had obviously been discarded when it ceased to be of use
16
.
The same question indirectly arises also from Edward Harris’ paper on the
enklema, the “plaint”, and its function in Athenian legal procedure. Harris has
convincingly shown that the written plaint submitted by the accuser when he
initiated legal procedure to a remarkable extent contributed to ensuring proce-
dural fairness and, more generally, to the good functioning of the judicial system.
It recorded the information that the magistrate who received the charge needed
to determine that the case was c:ozyay:µo;, i.e. could be lawfully accepted and
15 Marginesu 2010, 72-8.
16 Petrakos 1999, II, no. 181. Cf. also Petrakos 1984, 188-95.
168
had been brought before the correct jurisdiction. G. Thür had already stressed
the importance of the plaint for defining the legal issue about which the popular
judges would decide
17
. Harris shows that the charges against the defendant had
to follow the language of the statute under which the action was brought. This
ensured that the court would only decide whether the defendant had violated a
specific law and that the judges would uphold their oath to vote “according to the
laws”. Harris’ argument is important because he has not only investigated the
function of the plaint in private and public charges, dikai and graphai, but also
systematically extended the analysis to include other procedures such as eisange-
lia, phasis and paragraphe. As a result, we now have a much better knowledge of
the elements the indictment consisted of and we know that it could be a rather
elaborate document that had to be framed according to the terms of the law and
specified in a detailed manner the acts through which the defendant had violated
the law.
More to the point for the topic of this volume, Harris has also shown that
records of trials could be used after the case had been judged both as evidence
in subsequent litigation and as a source of information for further administra-
tive (mainly financial) documents, especially those presented by magistrates
when they rendered their accounts (and then inscribed on stone)
18
. I agree with
him that Arist. Pol. 1321b34-37 should be taken seriously and that ×ç:oc:; 8:-
×zot¸ç:av, together with z: yçzçz: tav 8:×av, were as a rule preserved in Greek
poleis
19
. What remains perhaps more controversial is where they were kept after
the trial was over. Personally, I do not believe that all indictments were stored in
the Metroon. For the reasons I stated before, I think it is more likely that only
the plaints within the jurisdiction of the Council and the Assembly were kept
there. The other indictments must have been stored in the archive of the magi-
strate who was responsible for the case
20
. The rich epigraphic evidence adduced
by Harris also seems to confirm this conclusion. Again, however, the main ques-
tion remains, for how long? Harris has mentioned two interesting passages in
Demosthenes’ Against Zenothemis (32, 27) and Against Nausimachus and Xenopeithes
(38,14-16), where a legal argument is developed on the basis of the information
provided by the indictment in a related earlier case. The second passage is par-
ticularly important as it appears that forteen years had elapsed between the two
trials (38,6). I could add another passage from Demosthenes’ Against Aristogeiton:
in this speech Aristogeiton is described as an evil person and is attacked, among
17 Thür 2007.
18 Cf. also Sickinger 2007, 204-6.
19 This has however been recently denied by Gagarin 2008, 195, according to whom, apart
from some exceptions, «verdicts in general were not officially recorded»; cf. also Gagarin
2009, 86.
20 Faraguna 2006; cf. 2009, esp. 68-9.
169
archives in classical greece: some observations
other things, for having sold his sister by the same mother “as is stated in the
indictment of the action which was brought against him on these grounds by
his brother” (25,55)
21
. The indictment is then read to the judges. The impression
is again that a long time had elapsed between the trials. Where did these docu-
ments come from? Were they retrieved from a public archive or did they come
from some private, family archive? Previously, I had suggested that they must
have come from the magistrate’s archeion. It is therefore rewarding to note that
at the end of his thorough and enlightening examination of the evidence Edward
Harris has reached the same conclusion.
21 On the speech, if genuine, see MacDowell 2009, 298-312.
170
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of New Citizens at Athens, in: V.
Hunter-J. Edmondson (eds.),
Law and Social Status in Classical
Athens, Oxford, 149-174.
Sickinger 1999
J. P. Sickinger, Public Records

and Archives in Classical Athens,
Chapel Hill-London.
Sickinger 2007
J. P. Sickinger, The Bureaucracy
of Democracy and Empire, in: L. J.
Samons II (ed.), The Cambridge
Companion to the Age of Pericles,
Cambridge, 196-214.
Thür 2007
G. Thür, Das Prinzip der Fairness
im attischen Prozess: Gedanken
zu Echinos und Enklema, in: E.
Cantarella (ed.), Symposion
2005, Wien, 131-150 (reprinted
in English as The Principle
of Fairness in Athenian Legal
Procedure. Thoughts on the Echinos
and Enklema, «Dike» 11, 2008,
51-73).
Valavanis 2002
P. Valavanis, Thoughts on the
Public Archive in the Hellenistic
Metroon of the Athenian Agora,
«MDAI(A)» 117, 221-255.
Whitehead 1986
D. Whitehead, The Demes
of Attica, 508/7-ca. 250 B.C.,
Princeton.
The Persian Tradition
and the Hellenistic World
175
aramäische archive aus achämenidischer zeit und ihre funktion
Aramäische Archive
aus achämenidischer Zeit
und ihre Funktion
ingo kottsieper
1 Einleitung
1
An mehreren Orten in Ägypten und Palästina sind Papyrusurkunden in aramä-
ischer Sprache gefunden worden, die aus der Epoche des achämenidischen Rei-
ches stammen. Im Rahmen des Generalthemas dieses Bandes soll hier der Frage
nachgegangen werden, welche dieser Texte antiken Archiven zugeordnet wer-
den können und wozu beziehungsweise wem diese Archive dienten.
Die Beantwortung dieser Fragen ist ein wenig komplexer, als man im ersten
Moment annehmen möchte. Obwohl an den verschiedenen Orten jeweils meh-
rere Dokumente gefunden wurden, müssen die meisten von ihnen von dieser
Untersuchung ausgeschlossen werden. Es fehlen in vielen Fällen ausreichende
Informationen über die genauen Fundumstände der einzelnen Dokumente und
damit auch darüber, mit welchen anderen genau sie bei ihrer Auffindung ein
Cluster bildeten, das auf ein ursprüngliches Archiv hinweisen könnte.
So geben die Ausgräber der Deutschen Expeditionen nach Elephantine der
Jahre 1906-1908, der wir einen Großteil der aramäischen Texte von dieser Insel
1 Ich danke Herrn Dr. Harald Samuel, Göttingen, für seine Hilfe bei den Korrekturen meines
Manuskripts.
176
verdanken, keinerlei Informationen über die exakten Fundorte der einzelnen
Texte. Lediglich ein sehr knapper und summarischer Hinweis wird von O. Ru-
bensohn geboten: «Die ersten Papyri fanden wir schon am Abhang des Koms
vor Mauer m 1, die größere Menge aber ist an der Mauer m 2 und an der späten
Mauer m 3 aufgedeckt worden. Die Papyri lagen hier kaum 1/2 m unter der mo-
dernen Oberfläche im losen Schutt ... . [Sie] sind also nicht in einem Gefäß gefun-
den worden ... . Für die Anlage n gilt das gleiche wie für m; auch hier ließ sich
ein fester Grundriß nicht mehr feststellen. Die Funde an Papyri waren übrigens
hier im Verhältnis zu m gering an Zahl.»
2
Aus dieser Anmerkung wird nur eins
deutlich: Die Texte wurden nicht in Gefäßen gefunden – offenkundig auch nicht
als zusammengebundene Bündel. Wie sie an ihren Fundort ge langten und wel-
che Papyri exakt an welchem Ort gefunden wurden, ist völlig unklar, womit
auch die ursprüngliche Funktion der Fundorte unklar bleibt. Handelt es sich um
mehrere antike Archive – wobei dann immer noch die Zuordnung der einzel-
nen Texte zu diesen unbekannt bleibt – oder um eine Art von Genizot, in denen
man nicht mehr gebrauchte Dokumente sekundär depo nierte? Oder sollte die-
ser Fundkomplex nur eine Abfallhalde gewesen sein, an der die Dokumente der
Söldner nach Aufgabe ihrer Kolonie von Späteren abgeladen wurde, wie es z. B.
auch in Nord-Saqqara der Fall war?
3
Natürlich kann man diese Texte entsprechend ihren Inhalten und/oder der
in ihnen genannten Personen gruppieren, wie es z. B. B. Porten und A. Yardeni
in ihrem ausgezeichneten Textbuch der aramäischen Texte von Ägypten getan
haben.
4
Dabei präsentieren sie drei dieser Gruppen ausdrücklich als Archive: Das
Briefarchiv der Gemeinschaft unter der Leitung Jedanjas
5
(A4.1-10), das Archiv
der Mibtahja (B2.1-11) und das des Anani (B3.1-13).
6
Die Fragwürdigkeit dieses
Vorgehens, bei dem die archäologischen Daten völlig ausgeblendet werden, zeigt
sich aber insbesondere im Hinblick auf das so erschlossene Jedanja-Archiv. So
enthält es neben Dokumenten, die aus den schon erwähnten deutschen Ausgra-
bungen stammen (A4.1-4+6-10) mit A4.5 auch den Strass burger Papyrus, der
1898/99 in Luxor gekauft worden war. Da die übrigen Texte erst Jahre später
ausgegraben wurden, erscheint es jedoch als völlig unwahr scheinlich, dass der
Strassburger Papyrus mit diesen ursprünglich an demselben Ort in einer Art
2 Rubensohn in Honroth-Rubensohn-Zucker 1909, S. 29.
3 Die aramäischen Dokumente wurden dort neben demotischen, hieratischen und griechi-
schen Texten auf einer Art Müllhalde gefunden, wohin sie wahrscheinlich erst bei der Errich-
tung der koptischen Siedlung verbracht worden waren, vgl. Segal 1983, S. 2.
4 Vgl. Porten-Yardeni 1986-1999 (= TAD). Die Texte werden in diesem Beitrag mit A, B, C oder
D dem Band entsprechend zitiert, z.B. A4.1 für einen Text aus Band I. Auf Angaben aus den Einlei-
tungen zu den Textgruppen wird mit TAD + Bandnummer und Seitenzahl verwiesen.
5 Im Folgenden werden die Namen in einer deutschen Adaption ihrer Transkription in TAD
geboten, auch wenn diese linguistisch zuweilen fragwürdig ist.
6 Vgl. aber auch schon Porten 1968, z. B. S. 191, 278 u.ö.
177
aramäische archive aus achämenidischer zeit und ihre funktion
Archiv deponiert worden war. Sollte der Finder dieses Archivs wirklich nur die
Fragmente dieses Papyrus entnommen und dann die anderen Texte wieder mit
einer 0.5m dicken Erdschicht bedeckt haben? Damit weisen alle Indizien darauf
hin, dass A4.5 von einem anderen Fundort stammt. Auch bei den auf Elephan-
tine gefundenen Dokumenten bleibt völlig unklar, ob sie als zusammenge-
hörende Gruppe an das Tageslicht kamen oder von mehreren der genannten
unterschiedlichen Fundstellen stammen. Die Rekonstruktion dieses «Archivs»
beruht also allein auf dem Inhalt der Dokumente und auf der Vorstellung mo-
derner Forscher, was ein solches Archiv enthalten haben könnte.
7
Selbst wenn
eine solche Rekonstruktion historisch korrekt wäre, so eignet sich ein auf diese
Weise erschlossenes Archiv nicht für die Beantwortung der Frage, was wir auf
Grund gesicherter Daten über Inhalt, Organisation und Funktion von antiken
Archiven aussagen können. Eine Analyse dieser rekonstruierten Archive würde
nur das ergeben, was von den modernen Forschern, die sie rekonstruiert haben,
als maßgeblich für die Zugehörigkeit zu einem Archiv vorausgesetzt wurde. Von
daher sind Archive, für die sich nicht auch eine äußere Evidenz auf Grund der
Fundumstände erweisen lässt, aus rein methodologischen Gründen von der Un-
tersuchung auszuschließen.
Glücklicherweise lässt sich zumindest für große Teile des sogenannten
Mibtahja- und des Anani-Archivs sowie für Dokumente aus dem Umkreis des
Satrapen Aršames (A6.3-16) eine solche äußere Evidenz beibringen, so dass diese
als Basis für eine entsprechende Untersuchung dienen können. Dazu kommen
die in Ägypten gefundenen Reste von Schriftrollen, die eine Sammlung von ein-
zelnen Dokumenten enthalten haben; auch diese lassen sich als eine Art Ar chiv
ansprechen und können entsprechend mit in die Untersuchung einbe zogen
werden. Schließlich geben auch die Dokumente vom Wadi Dalije einige weitere
Hinweise für unser Thema.
7 Dementsprechend weichen auch die Angaben zum Umfang der Archive der Mibtahja und
des Anani bei Yaron 1961[a], S. 4-6, und Porten 1968, S. 200-263, voneinander und von den
Angaben in TAD ab; vgl. unten zur Rekonstruktion dieser Archive. Auch hinsichtlich des Je-
danja-Archivs besteht eine Diskrepanz zwischen TAD und Porten 1968, S. 278. Mit A4.6 wird
ein neuer Text aufgeführt, der auf einer neuen Rekonstruktion aus Einzelfragmenten beruht.
Dagegen fehlt in TAD nun die Abgabenliste für den Tempel Jahus (C3.15 = Cowley 22), die nach
Porten 1968, S. 278, zu diesem Archiv gehörte. So bezeichnet auch TAD III, S. xiii, lediglich
die «communal leaders» als Autoren des Textes, macht aber sonst keinerlei Angaben über die
Zugehörigkeit des Dokumentes zu einem Archiv. Der Grund für dieses Schweigen könnte sein,
dass von den im Jedanja-Archiv genannten Personen aus der judäischen Gemeinschaft nur eine
einzige in dieser Liste, die am ehesten in das Jahr 400 v.Chr. datiert, erscheint (TAD III S. xvii)
und Jedanja als führendes Mitglied der Gemeinschaft überhaupt nicht erwähnt wird. Die Texte,
die TAD nun dem Jedanja-Archiv zuordnet, stammen hingegen, soweit erkennbar, alle aus der
Zeit von 419 - ca. 407 v.Chr. Offenkundig liegt in TAD die Vorentscheidung zu Grunde, dass das
rekonstruierte Archiv das «communal archive of Jedaniah» (TAD I, S. 53) sei, und nicht, wie
man auch annehmen könnte, das Archiv des Tempels von Elephantine, in dem für längere Zeit
Jedanja eine Leitungsfunktion hatte.
178
2 Die Archive
2.1 Das sogenannte Archiv der Mibtahja
2.1.1 Rekonstruktion des Archivs
Wie oben schon angesprochen, ordnen Porten und Yardeni die Texte B2.1-11
einem Archiv der Mibtahja zu. Auf Grund der unterschiedlichen Fundumstände
können diese Dokumente drei Kategorien zugeordnet werden:
1 Der Hauptteil dieses «Archivs» besteht aus neun Dokumenten (B2. 2-4+6-11),
die von Einheimischen am Anfang des letzten Jahrhunderts als eine Einheit
gefunden und dann auf dem Antiquitätenmarkt verkauft wurden.
8
Es han-
delt sich um sehr gut erhaltene Dokumente, die noch verschlossen und ge-
siegelt waren. Dem entspricht die Information des Händlers, der angegeben
hat, dass sie in einem Holzkasten gefunden wurden. Dass diese Dokumente,
obwohl sie an zwei verschiedene Personen verkauft wurden, zusammen ge-
hören, zeigt sich auch daran, dass beide Käufer jeweils einen Teil ein- und
desselben Dokumentes, das in zwei Teile zerbrochen war, erstanden. Wenn
auch nicht zu klären ist, ob das Dokument erst nach der Auffindung zerbrach,
so besteht hier ein materieller Joint zwischen beiden Sammlungen. Da alle
diese offenkundig in einem Kasten gefundenen Doku mente auch mit den
Angelegenheiten einer einzigen Familie befasst sind, darf man sie als ein si-
cheres Beispiel eines Archivs ansehen.
2 Mit großer Wahrscheinlichkeit gehört auch B2.1 zu diesem Archiv. Es teilt
mit den gerade beschriebenen Doku menten die Eigenschaft, dass es als gut
erhaltenes, noch geschlossenes Dokument gefunden wurde und sich mit An-
gelegenheiten derselben Familie beschäftigt. Obwohl es erst später im Jahr
1904 oder 1905 erworben wurde und keine eindeutigen Informationen über
die Fundumstände vorliegen, wurde es von Sayce uneingeschränkt als Teil des
unter 1. genannten Fundes ediert.
9
Man wird annehmen dürfen, dass es von
demselben Händler stammt, der es als Teil desselben Fundes präsentierte. Dass
der Händler diesen Fund an verschiedene Personen verkauft hat, zeigt schon
die Tatsache, dass die unter 1. genannten Dokumente an zwei unter schiedliche
Käufer gegangen sind. Wie dem auch sei, weder würde die Zuordnung dieses
Textes zur 1. Gruppe noch seine Ausscheidung aus der Untersuchung an dem
Bild, dass die 1. Gruppe ergibt (s.u.) etwas ändern.
8 Zu den Fundumständen und dem Erwerb der Dokumente vgl. A. H. Sayce in Sayce-Cowley
1906, S. 9, und die Bemerkung von R. Mond ebd., S. 7.
9 Vgl. Sayce in Sayce-Cowley 1906, S. 5.
179
aramäische archive aus achämenidischer zeit und ihre funktion
3 B2.5 jedoch kann in diesem Zusammenhang nicht als Teil des Archivs
berücksichtigt werden. Dieses sehr fragmentarische Dokument ist Teil der
Funde der deutschen Ausgrabungen und gehörte sicher nicht zum ur-
sprüngli chen Inhalt der Kiste, in der die 1. Gruppe und wahrscheinlich auch
B2.1 gefunden wurde. Zwar versicherte Rubensohn, das einige Einheimische
ihm den Ort gezeigt hätten, an dem die früheren Dokumente gefunden
worden wären, und dieser nur 1 m von dem Ort entfernt war, «an dem wir
später den großen Fund an aramäischen Papyri gemacht haben»,
10
aber dies
beweist nicht, dass auch B2.5 an diesem Ort gefunden wurde. Wie oben
aufgezeigt, fehlt jeder Hinweis auf eine konkrete Zuordnung einzelner Do-
kumente zu den unterschiedlichen Fundorten, und die angeführte Be mer-
kung Rubensohns lässt auch nicht erkennen, um welchen Fundort es sich
genau handelt, von dem aus in 1 m Entfernung die anderen Dokumente
gefunden wurden – m 1, m 2 oder m 3? Zudem widerspricht die Aussage der
Einheimischen der früheren des Verkäufers, dass die Dokumente in Assuan
gefunden worden seien.
11
Sollte hier ein Missverständnis vorliegen und die
Einheimischen den deutschen Ausgräbern nicht den Platz gezeigt haben, an
der die Kiste mit den Dokumenten gefunden worden war – solche Kisten
wurden auf Elephantine nicht mehr gefunden! –, sondern schlicht einen
Platz, an dem man weitere solche Dokumente finden kann?
12
Aber selbst die
inhaltliche Zuordnung von B2.5 zum Archiv der Mibtahja ist fragwürdig.
Sie beruht schlicht darauf, dass in Z. 2 ein Mahseja erwähnt wird, der im

10 Rubensohn in Honroth-Rubensohn-Zucker 1909, S. 14.
11 Vgl. Sayce-Cowley 1906, S. 9.
12 Die Formulierung des Berichts von Rubensohn in Honroth-Rubensohn-Zucker 1909, S.
14, erlaubt auch die Frage, ob er wirklich mit dem konkreten Händler und Finder der Kiste
gesprochen hat: «Ein Besuch in Assuan noch im Jahre der Aufdeckung 1904 verschaffte mir die
Bekanntschaft und das Vertrauen der in Betracht kommenden Händler und Sebbachgräber».
Rubensohn hat somit mit mehreren Händlern gesprochen und, nimmt man die Formulierung
ernst, keine sichere Kenntnis, wer von diesen genau die Dokumente verkauft bzw. gefunden
hatte. Dass hier unterschiedliche Personen sich widersprechende Angaben machen konnten,
hatte schon Sayce erfahren: «Different accounts were given to Mr. Howard Carter ... and myself
as to the place of their discovery. On the one hand we were told that they had been found in
the island of Elephantinê, and the actual spot from which they had come was pointed out to
us; on the other hand we were assured that they had really been discovered in a wooden box
by the workmen employed in making the new road which runs from the railway station at the
southern end of Assuan to the English Church and Cataract Hotel on the top of the hill. That
this latter was the true story seems to admit of little doubt ...» (Sayce in Sayce-Cowley 1906,
S. 9). Wie wenig verlässlich die Angaben der Einheimischen sein konnten, zeigt sich auch
darin, dass Maspero 1904 offenkundig durch Sayce (vgl. Sayce ebd.) den angeblichen Fundort
eines anderen Dokumentes (B4. 2) und zweier Ostraka (D7.3; D7.9) kannte und dort graben
ließ. Zwar fand er dort weitere Dokumente, aber nicht aramäische, sondern nur griechische
und demotische. Offenkundig bezog sich auch hier die Ortsangabe schlicht auf eine Stelle, an
der man Dokumente finden konnte. Es ist auch kaum zu erwarten, dass die Sebachgräber ge-
nau Buch darüber führten, wo welche Dokumente bei ihren alltäglichen Arbeiten auftauchten
– zumal dies schon die wissenschaftlichen Ausgräber unterließen.
180
Kontext einer geplanten Eheschließung Geld erhält und so wahrscheinlich
der Brautvater war. Zwar hieß der Vater Mibtahjas auch Mahseja, aber allein
in den erhaltenen Texten aus Elephantine begegnen mit Mahseja b. Schiba
(B7.1, 2) und [M]ahseja b. Jesa[ja] (B5.3,6) zwei weitere Mahsejas, die auch
Töchter gehabt haben können und wahrscheinlich zu anderen Familien
gehörten. Es handelt sich offenkundig um einen dort verbreiteten Namen.
Mithin kann die Zugehörigkeit von B2.2-4+6-11 zu diesem Archiv als weitgehend
gesichert und die von B2.1 als sehr wahrscheinlich gelten, während B2.5 aus der
Untersuchung auszuschließen ist.
13
2.1.2 Inhalt des Archivs
Eine Analyse der Dokumente zeigt, dass das Archiv in der vorliegenden Form
nicht das der Mibtahja, sondern das ihres Sohnes Jedanja (I) war.
14
Und es han-
delt sich nicht um ein allgemeines Familienarchiv, sondern offenkundig um
eine Sammlung von Dokumenten, die direkt oder indirekt das Erbe betreffen,
das Jedanja (I) von seinen Eltern erhalten hat.
Dementsprechend besteht das Archiv aus zwei Teilen. Die jüngsten Doku-
mente B2.9-11 (geschrieben 420-410 v.Chr.) sind alle für Jedanja (I) selbst ausge-
stellt worden.
So ist das jüngste Dokument von 410 v.Chr. (B2.11) eine Teilungseinverständ-
niserklärung, die von Mahseja (II), dem Sohn der Mibtahja, für seinen Bruder
Jedanja (I) offenkundig nach dem Tod ihrer Mutter verfasst wurde. Inhalt ist die
Aufteilung der Leibeigenen Mibtahjas, die nach dem Tod der Mutter an ihre Söh-
ne übergingen.
15
B2.11 war somit niemals Bestandteil eines Archivs der Mibtahja.
Mit B2.10 (416 v.Chr.) liegt ein Dokument vor, mit dem ein gewisser Jedanja
(II) bar Hosea bar Uria jeden Anspruch auf ein Haus aufgibt, das seinem Onkel
Jesanja bar Urija einst gehört hat. Diesen Anspruch hatte er gegen Jedanja (I) und
Mahseja (II), den Söhnen der Mibtahja erhoben, die offenkundig in Besitz des
Hauses gelangt waren. Mibtahja war in erster Ehe mit Jesanja verheiratet ge we-
sen, ihre beiden Söhne stammten aber aus ihrer zweiten Ehe mit Eshor/Natan.
Es darf angenommen werden, dass Jesanja nicht lange nach der Eheschließung

13 Vgl. schon Yaron 1961[a], S. 4-5; Porten 1968, S. 237-239.
14 Vgl. schon auch Porten 1968, S. 239; warum in TAD dennoch an der irreführenden Bezeich-
nung als «Mibtahia Archive» festgehalten wird, ist nicht nachzuvollziehen.
Da in den Texten verschiedene Personen mit demselben Namen begegnen, werde diese
hier mit I, II usw. unterschieden. Jedanja (I) und Mahseja (II) waren die Kinder von Mibtahja,
der Tochter Mahsejas (I), und ihres zweiten Mannes Eshor/Natan. Jedanja (II) ist der Neffe von
Mibtahjas erstem Mann Jesanja.
15 Wahrscheinlich wurde ein entsprechendes Gegendokument, in dem Jedanja (I) sich mit
der Teilung einverstanden erklärt, in dessen Namen abgefasst und an Mahseja (II) übergeben.
181
aramäische archive aus achämenidischer zeit und ihre funktion
verstorben war
16
und Mibtahja sein Haus geerbt
17
und Jahre später an ihre ei-
genen Söhne aus zweiter Ehe überschrieben hatte.
18
Die Rechtmäßigkeit dieser
Transaktion wurde von Jedanja (II), dem Neffen Jesanjas, bezweifelt.
Aus den erhaltenen Rechtstexten lässt sich der juristische Hintergrund dieses
Falls mit großer Wahrscheinlichkeit erhellen.
19
Die erhaltenen Eheverträge gehen
auf die Frage ein, was mit dem Besitz der Eheleute geschieht, wenn einer von ih-
nen stirbt, wobei im vorliegenden Kontext insbesondere der Fall von Interesse ist,
dass der Ehemann verstarb. Dabei sind drei unterschiedliche Regelungen belegt:
16 Dies ergibt sich mit großer Wahrscheinlichkeit aus folgenden Beobachtungen: Die Hei-
ratsurkunde bezüglich Mibtahjas Ehe mit Eshor/Natan, ihrem zweiten Mann, datiert in das
Jahr 458 v.Chr. Dies ergibt sich aus der Gleichung 26. Tishri = [1]6. Epiph eines Jahres der Herr-
schaft des Artaxerxes, dessen konkrete Zahl in einer Lücke stand. Dies war nur im Jahr 7 der Fall
gewesen, wobei die entsprechenden sieben Einerstriche die bestehende Lücke perfekt ausfül-
len würden. TAD gibt als zweite Möglichkeit die Gleichung 26. Tischri = [2]6. Epiph an, was auf
das Jahr 20 = 445 führen würde. Jedoch wäre das Zahlzeichen für 20 nach ɰɦɯ in Z. 1 deutlich
zu kurz für die zu ergänzende Lücke. Zudem würde man von dem Zahlzeichen 20 in der Tages-
angabe «[20] + 6 des Monats Epiph» noch Reste vor den Einerstrichen erwarten, während von
einer «10» solche Reste weniger wahrscheinlich wären. Auch sachlich passt diese Datierung
besser. Ausweislich von B2.3-4 war Mibtahja 460 v.Chr. mit ihrem ersten Mann verheiratet,
von dem sie dann aber keine Kinder hatte (vgl. unten zu B2.10). Hätte sie ihren zweiten Mann
erst 445 geheiratet, so hätte sie ihre beiden Söhne aus zweiter Ehe frühestens mit Ende Zwan-
zig, eher aber in den Dreißigern bekommen, will man nicht davon ausgehen, dass sie schon
mit zehn Jahren verheiratet war. Die Überschreibung eines Hauses an sie und ihren ersten
Ehemann von 460 (B2.3-4) lässt sich gut im Kontext ihrer ersten Eheschließung verstehen, so
dass dann ihr Mann kurz nach der Eheschließung verstarb und sie zwei Jahre später erneut
heiratete. Dann könnte sie etwa 18-20 Jahre alt gewesen sein – ein gutes Alter um noch zwei
Söhne zu bekommen. Da sie wahrscheinlich 410 gestorben war (vgl. unten, Anm. 18), wäre sie
etwa 65-70 Jahre alt geworden.
17 Andernfalls müsste man entweder annehmen, dass Jesanja Mibtahja das Haus während
ihrer Ehe ohne jede Einschränkung hinsichtlich einer Scheidung überschrieben habe, so dass
es auch nach einer solchen in ihrem Besitz blieb. Dies wäre aber ebenso ungewöhnlich wie der
Fall, dass das Haus bei der Scheidung an Mibtahja ging, was den entsprechenden Klauseln der
erhaltenen Eheverträge widersprechen würde, nach denen der Besitz (und insbesondere Immo-
bilien) grundsätzlich beim ursprünglichen Eigentümer blieb (B2.6, 22-28; B3.3,7-10; B3.8, 21-28).
Auch ist kaum anzunehmen, dass Jesanja nach der Neuverheiratung seiner ehemaligen Frau
mit einem anderen Mann dessen Söhnen sein eigenes Haus zukommen ließ.
18 Dass dieser Vorgang, in dem Mibtahja nur als Nebenperson erwähnt wird, voraussetzt,
dass Mibtahja schon gestorben war (so Porten 1968, S. 256), ist nicht überzeugend. Zwei
Beobachtungen sprechen gegen diese Annahme:
1. Die Verteilung der Leibeigenen Mibtahjas nach ihrem Tod findet erst 410 v.Chr., also
sechs Jahre später statt (vgl. B2.11, s.o.). Man erwartet aber, dass dies relativ zeitnah nach
ihrem Tod geschehen sein muss, da die Besitzverhältnisse bezüglich lebender Personen
wohl kaum solange unklar blieben. Es gibt keinen Hinweis, dass diese Leibeigenen zwi-
schenzeitlich einem anderen Erbe zugesprochen waren. Mithin dürfte Mibtahja erst 410
v.Chr. gestorben sein.
2. B2.10 aus dem Jahr 416 v.Chr. selbst erwähnt in Z. 7 ein «Haus der Mibtahja, der Tochter
des Mahseja, das ihr Vater Mahseja ihr gegeben hat». Nach ihrem Tod wäre dies aber das
Haus ihrer Erben und nicht mehr «das Haus der Mibtahja» gewesen.
19 Vgl. zum Folgenden auch Yaron 1961[a], S. 69-76.
182
1 Die Ehefrau wird ohne Einschränkung als ɚɞɟɢɯ «Machthaberin, Inhaberin
der Verfügungsgewalt»
20
über den Besitz des Mannes eingesetzt (B3.3,10-13).
2 Diese Bestimmung wird an die Bedingung geknüpft, dass die Ehe kinderlos
blieb. Dies findet sich im Ehevertrag der Mibtahja mit ihrem zweiten Mann
(B2.6,17-19).
3 Die kinderlose Ehefrau darf das Eigentum ihres Mannes weiter nutzen, so-
lange sie nicht wieder heiratet. Eine Wiederverheiratung wird analog zu ei-
ner Scheidung behandelt (B3.8, 28-34).
21
Die Übersicht zeigt, dass nach dem Tod eines Ehemannes der Verbleib seines
Besitzes bei der Witwe nichts Außergewöhnliches ist, aber dass die rechtliche
Ausgestaltung hierfür variieren konnte und auf der Vereinbarung beruhte, die
bei der Eheschließung verhandelt und im Ehevertrag festgehalten wurde.
22
Es
war also für einen Außenstehenden nicht a priori ersichtlich, ob Mibtahja mit
dem Haus ihres ersten Mannes frei und uneingeschränkt als ihr Eigentum
verfahren konnte. Dies erklärt, warum Jedanja (II) spätestens zu dem Zeitpunkt,
an dem das Haus an Mibtahjas Kinder überging, Einspruch erhob.
23

20 Zu ɞɟɢɯ vgl. jetzt auch Botta 2009, S. 81-95, der auf S. 90 die Bedeutung dieser Aussagen «as
a clause conferring a ‹right (...) to property, which may not be abridged without due process›,
and that could be properly translated, ‹you have authority/control› » definiert.
21 Vgl. Botta 2009, S. 58; Friedman 1980, S. 427f. und die dort genannte ältere Literatur. Dass
sich diese Passage auf eine Wiederverheiratung und nicht auf Polygamie bezieht, macht die
Formulierung ɚɢ ɥɛəɗɨɟ «man wird ihr tun» deutlich. Normalerweise würde der Ehemann als
Handelnder hier einschreiten, aber da er nicht mehr lebt, treten hier seine nicht näher bestimm-
ten Rechtsvertreter bzw. die Rechtsgemeinde auf. Entsprechend wird die Ehefrau in diesem Fall
nicht als ɚɞɟɢɯ, d.h. als diejenige, die die Macht oder Verfügungsgewalt hat, über den Besitz des
kinderlos verstorbenen Mannes eingesetzt, sondern als «seine ɚɮəɝ> @ª (ɚɰɮəɝ> @ ɟɚ , Z. 29).
Möglicherweise ist dies als ɚɰəɝ>ɖ@ im Sinne von «die an ihm festhält» zu lesen, was ein recht-
licher terminus technicus für eine Frau sein könnte, die nach dem Tod ihres Mannes so weiter-
lebt, als ob sie noch mit ihm verheiratet wäre und deswegen sein Besitz auch noch nicht an seine
Erben übergeht (zur Ergänzung vgl. u.a. TAD). Durchaus erwägenswert ist aber auch die Lesung
ɚɰɮɝ>ɖ@ im Sinne von «Nachfolgerin», vgl. Grelot 1972, S. 236.
22 Dass also der Neffe Jesanjas der «natural legal heir» seines Onkels war, wenn dieser kin-
derlos verstarb (so Botta 2009, S. 111), ist somit nur solange korrekt, bis dies durch vertragliche
Vereinbarungen außer Kraft gesetzt wurde.
23 Warum er dies nicht schon bei der erneuten Eheschließung der Mibtahja tat, kann nicht mit
Sicherheit gesagt werden. Möglicherweise aber wollte Jedanja nicht das Risiko einer Vertrags-
strafe eingehen. So enthält B2.6, 29-30 ausdrücklich die Drohung, dass jeder, der die Ehefrau aus
dem Besitz verdrängen will, eine hohe Strafzahlung zu leisten hat. Solange der Ehevertrag der
Mibtahja mit ihrem ersten Mann noch verschlossen war, konnte nur ein Eingeweihter wissen,
ob ein entsprechender Passus in ihm stand. Damit war ein Vorgehen gegen Mibtahja ohne
genaue Kenntnis ihres Ehevertrages sehr riskant. Aber in dem Moment, in dem das Haus an
andere überging – sei es als Überschreibung oder sei es als Erbe (vgl. dazu Anm. 18) – war eine
solche Klausel nicht mehr wirksam und der Versuch konnte sich lohnen.
183
aramäische archive aus achämenidischer zeit und ihre funktion
Die Tatsache, dass die Besitzverhältnisse im Ehevertrag geregelt waren, könn te
zudem erklären, warum der Ehevertrag der ersten Eheschließung Mibtahjas
– im Gegensatz zu dem der zweiten – nicht erhalten ist. Zur Klärung der Sachlage
musste er geöffnet werden und war danach in weiteren Prozessen nicht mehr ver-
wendbar und daher wertlos.
24
Die einzige rechtlich noch rele vante Be stim mung
eines solchen Vertrages hätte sich aber auf die Besitz verhält nisse nach dem Tode
des Ehemannes bezogen, die aber nun durch die vor liegende Verzichtsur kunde
geklärt wird, welche das Besitzrecht der Söhne Mibtahjas bezüglich Jesanjas
Haus beurkundet. Dies erklärt dann auch die merkwürdige Ein schränk ung, die
in dieser neuen Urkunde gemacht wird: der Neffe Jedanja verzichtet zwar für
sich und seine Rechtsnachfolger auf jede weitere Ansprüche und Klagen, nimmt
aber ausdrücklich Kinder des Jesanja aus (Z. 13 + 16f.). Wie oben gesehen, gab es
Eheverträge, die das Eigentumsrecht der Witwe auf den Fall beschränkten, dass
keine Kinder des Verstorbenen existierten. Und wohl kaum zufällig war eine
solche Vereinbarung Bestandteil des Ehevertrages für Mibtahjas zweite Ehe. Die
scheinbar überflüssige Klausel – woher sollten auf einmal diese Kinder kommen?
– erklärt sich damit recht einfach als Übernahme einer entsprechenden Klausel
aus einem entspre chen den Ehevertrag, dessen noch relevante Bestimmungen
nicht einfach auf gege ben werden konnten. Eventuell noch existierende Kinder
des Jesanja hatten und behielten das Recht, gegen die Übereignung des Hauses
ihres Vaters an die Kinder seiner ehemaligen Frau aus zweiter Ehe vorzugehen,
auch wenn dies wohl nur eine theoretische Möglichkeit war.
Ebenfalls um die Rechtmäßigkeit des Erbes von Jedanja (I) und Mahseja (II)
geht es auch in dem 420 v.Chr. abgefassten Dokument B2.9. Strittig war in diesem
Fall nicht die Erbfolge, sondern die Frage, ob ihr Vater Eshor/Natan der rechtmä-
ßige Besitzer gewisser Güter gewesen war und seine Söhne sie so zu Recht geerbt
hatten, oder ob Eshor/Natan diese Güter nur für einen dritten aufbewahrt hatte,
so dass sie von seinen Erben zu erstatten waren.
25
Dass Jedanja und Mahseja die rechtmäßigen Erben sowohl ihres Vaters als
auch ihrer Mutter waren, regelt der Ehevertrag ihrer Mutter Mibtahja aus dem
Jahr 458 v.Chr. (B2.6), auf den schon oben verwiesen wurde. Die Bestimmungen
in Z. 17-22, dass Mibtahja die Alleinerbin ihres Mannes sein wird, wenn er keine
Kinder hat, und dass ihr Mann ihr Alleinerbe ist, wenn sie kinderlos stirbt, im-
plizieren, dass ihre beiden Söhne Jedanja und Mahseja ihre rechtmäßigen Erben
sind, wobei sie jeweils den Besitz eines Elternteils sofort nach dessen Tod erbten.
24 So auch schon Yaron 1961[a], S. 76.
25 Dies bedeutet nicht, dass Eshor/Natan erst 420 gestorben war, wie z.B. Porten 1968, S. 255
(vgl. auch TAD II, S. 15; Grelot 1972, S. 198), annimmt. Eshor/Natan hatte diese Güter vom Groß-
vater (!) der Kläger übernommen. Mithin ist es ebenso gut möglich, dass 420 dieser Großvater
gestorben war und seine Enkel als Erben die (vermeintlich?) ihm gehörenden Güter eintreiben
wollten. Vgl. zu diesem Text auch unten, Anm. 31.
184
Wie oben angesprochen, war dies eine durchaus übliche Regelung,
26
so dass der
Ehevertrag nur dann geöffnet zu werden brauchte, wenn jemand anderes diese
Erbfolge bestreiten würde. Aber er behielt rechtliche Re levanz für die Erben als
eine Art Testament, das auch in Zukunft den Erban spruch belegen konnte. Mit-
hin gehört dieses Dokument in das Archiv des Je danja, das seine Erban sprüche
beziehungsweise das von ihm Ererbte zum Thema hat.
Ebenfalls von Bedeutung in diesem Kontext ist B2.8, ein Dokument aus dem
Jahr 440 v.Chr., in dem ein gewisser Pia seine Ansprüche auf Besitztümer gegen-
über Mibtahja und ihren Erben (Z. 7f.) aufgibt. Da Jedanja und sein Bruder die Er-
ben dieser Besitztümer waren, schützte dieses Dokument auch sie vor etwaigen
Ansprüchen dieses Mannes.
27
Als Erben des Besitzes ihrer Mutter übernahmen sie natürlich auch die Do-
kumente, die diese als rechtmäßige Besitzerin von Immobilien auswies. In die-
se Kategorie gehören B2.1-4 und 7. Dabei bilden B2.1-4 ein eigenes Unterarchiv
mit Bezug auf ein Haus, dass vormals Mibtahjas Vater Mahseja (I) gehört hat.
28
Dessen Besitzrechte waren aber 464 v.Chr. zu Unrecht bestritten worden,
worüber eine Urkunde ausgefertigt wurde (B2. 2), die nun Mahsejas Anspruch
26 Auch B3.8 enthält diese gegenseitige Einsetzung als Erbe, vgl. Z. 28-30 + 34-36.
27 Wahrscheinlich handelt es sich bei Pia um den dritten Ehemann der Mibtahja, und das
Dokument gehört in den Kontext ihrer Scheidung von diesem, wie schon Halévy 1907, S. 111,
dargelegt hat, vgl. z. B. auch Cowley 1923, S. 41; Porten 1968, S. 245-248; Grelot 1972, S. 189;
Muffs 2003, S. 32; Botta 2009, S. 128. Dafür spricht die Erwähnung eines ɛɰɦɖɮɪɧ, d.h. ei-
nes Ehevertrages, der offenkundig neben den verhandelten Gütern eine Rolle in dem von Pia
angestrengten Prozess spielt. Dementsprechend wäre Z. 3f. wie folgt zu übersetzen: «(Pia sagte)
... in Bezug auf den Rechtsstreit, den wir in Assuan durchführten als eine Auseinandersetzung (?)
in Bezug auf Silber und Weizen und Kleidung und Bronze und Eisen, allen Besitz und Güter,
und in Bezug auf einen Ehevertrag». ɛɰɦɖɮɪɧ dürfte damit das letzte Glied der Reihe sein,
die vom zweiten ɢɨ («in Bezug auf») abhängig ist. Die ganze mit ɢɨɰɮɪɦ («Auseinanderset-
zung [?] in Bezug auf») eingeleitete Phrase kennzeichnet also den Rechtsstreit als einen Pro-
zess hinsichtlich der Gütertrennung bei einer Ehescheidung, dem der Ehevertrag zugrunde
gelegt wird. Da nach solchen Eheverträgen normalerweise die Ehefrau alles von ihr in die Ehe
eingebrachte wieder an sich nehmen konnte, konnte es leicht streitig sein, was dazu gehörte.
Der Ehevertrag der Mibtahja mit Eshor/Natan belegt deutlich, dass der eigentliche Besitz
der Frau nicht genannt wurde – Mibtahja war, wie B2.1-4 zeigt, Besitzerin eines Hauses auf
Elephantine, das in diesem Ehevertrag nicht erwähnt wird. So konnte es bei Scheidungen zu
Auseinandersetzungen über das kommen, was die Ehefrau an Kapital abziehen konnte. B2.8
belegt, dass es zu einer gütlichen Einigung kam und Pia entsprechend keinerlei Ansprüche an
seine ehemalige Gattin hatte.
Dass TAD II, S. 15 offenkundig nicht mehr davon ausgeht, dass Pia ein Ehemann Mibtahjas
war, hat wohl seinen Grund darin, dass B2.9 aus dem Jahr 420 als Hinweis auf den Tod des
zweiten Ehemanns verstanden wurde. Wie oben gezeigt (vgl. Anm. 25), ist diese Deutung aber
nicht zwingend, sondern Eshor/Natan könnte durchaus einige Jahre vor 440 gestorben sein.
Dass bei dem Prozess mit Pia der Ehevertrag eine rechtliche Grundlage war, erklärt, wie schon
Porten 1968, S. 247, bemerkt, das Fehlen des Vertrages. Er wurde geöffnet und war danach
rechtlich ungültig. Umgekehrt zeigt dann die Existenz des ungeöffneten Ehevertrages mit
Eshor/Natan, dass diese Ehe nicht geschieden wurde, sondern Eshor/Natan gestorben war.
28 Vgl. dazu auch Szubin-Porten 1983[a], S. 39-41.
185
aramäische archive aus achämenidischer zeit und ihre funktion
auf das Haus bestätigt. Dieser überschrieb 460 v.Chr. seiner Tochter Mibtahja
das Haus (B2.3), wobei das entsprechende Dokument in Z. 23-27 auf den Rechts-
streit von 464 verweist und ausdrücklich das entsprechende Dokument (B2. 2)
nennt, welches Mahseja nun zusammen mit dem Haus seiner Tochter für den
Fall übergibt, dass der Kläger von 464 seine Klage noch einmal aufnehmen sollte.
Ohne dieses Dokument, das eine strafbewehrte allgemeine Klageverzichts-
klausel enthält (Z. 12-15), hätte jedermann, einschließlich des Klägers von 464,
risikolos erneut die Rechtmäßigkeit des Besitzes anzweifeln können. Mehr
noch, Mahseja besaß offenkundig kein älteres Besitzdokument und konnte 464
die Klage nur durch einen Eid abwenden. Eine weitere Klage, dass er das Haus gar
nicht als sein Eigentum hätte weitergeben dürfen, hätte nach seinem Tod ohne
das besagte Dokument seine Tochter in Beweisnot gebracht. Dies illustriert in
besonderem Maße nicht nur die Wichtigkeit des Besitzes solcher Dokumente,
sondern auch die ihrer Übergabe an die folgenden Besitzer.
Mit der Überschreibung des Hauses hatte Mahseja (I) auch zugleich Jesanja,
dem ersten Mann seiner Tochter, als Gegenleistung für die Bebauung ein Wohn-,
aber kein allgemeines Besitzrecht eingeräumt, was B2.4 dokumentiert. Das Be-
sitzrecht der Mibtahja wird darin dahingehend eingeschränkt, dass sie nach ei-
ner etwaigen Scheidung das Haus nicht einfach an andere verkaufen kann, son-
dern es den gemeinsamen Kindern zusteht – andernfalls wird das Grund stück
geteilt und Jesanja erhält die eine Hälfte, die aber wiederum an die Kinder mit
Mibtahja vererbt werden soll. Indirekt schließt dies aber jedes Erbrecht einer
anderen Person oder eine Klage eines dritten, dass Jesanja ihm das Grundstück
übereignet hätte, aus: «Du hast nicht die Verfügungsgewalt, es zu verkaufen oder
es aus Zuneigung einem anderen zu geben» (Z. 6f.). Damit bestätigt das Doku-
ment indirekt, dass Mibtahja nach dem Tod Jesanjas uneingeschränkte Besitze-
rin auch dieses Hausteils wurde, und damit auch, dass es rechtmäßig an Jedanja
(I) und Mahseja (II), die Söhne der Mibtahja, vererbt werden konnte.
In diesen Kontext gehört auch B2.1, das auf Grund der «Fundumstände»
wahrscheinlich ebenfalls Bestandteil dieses Archivs war und das Recht Mahse-
jas (I) an einer Mauer dokumentiert, die ein anderer auf seinem, Mahsejas (I)
Grundstück, errichtet hat.
B2.7 schließlich ist die Überschreibung eines weiteren Hauses an Mibtahja
durch ihren Vater Mahseja (I), das damit ebenfalls zur Erbmasse gehörte, die Je-
danja (I) und sein Bruder Mahesja (II) übernommen hatten.
Dieses Dokument belegt, dass das Archiv offenkundig nicht vollständig vor-
liegt. Z. 6-7 erwähnt ein älteres Dokument, dass das Besitzrecht Mahsejas (I) be-
stätigt und an Mibtahja weitergegeben wurde. Dieses Dokument wurde si cher-
lich auch an die Erben weitergereicht,
29
fehlt aber in der vorliegenden Sammlung.
29 Natürlich ist nicht auszuschließen, dass es zu einem Prozess gekommen war, bei dem das
Dokument geöffnet worden war. In diesem Fall wäre aber zu erwarten, dass ein entsprechen-
des neues Dokument abgefasst und ausgehändigt wurde.
186
Da der spätere Händler dieses Archiv aber an unterschiedliche Personen verkauft
hat, ist es durchaus möglich, dass dieses Dokument an einen anderen Käufer ge-
langte und erst in der Neuzeit verloren ging bzw. in einer anonymen Samm lung
der wissenschaftlichen Forschung vorenthalten wird.
30
2.1.3 Zusammenfassung
Die zehn Dokumente diese Archivs teilen alle den Aspekt, dass sie in einem
Rechtsstreit über das Erbe, das Jedanja (I) und Mahseja (II) von ihren Eltern
erhalten haben, als Beweismittel für dessen Rechtmäßigkeit dienen können.
31

Dem entspricht, dass all diese Dokumente noch nicht geöffnet und damit als Be-
weismittel gültig waren. Damit ergibt sich für dieses Archiv eines Privatmannes
eine klare Funktion, die auch erklärt, warum die Dokumente aus der überschau-
baren Zeitspanne von 61 Jahren stammen.
Da das Archiv auch ein von Mahseja (II) für seinen Bruder Jedanja (I) ausge-
stelltes Dokument enthält (B2.11), darf man Jedanja (I) als Besitzer des Archivs
ansehen. In wieweit Mahseja (II), dessen Besitzansprüche die Mehrzahl der Do-
kumente ebenfalls betreffen, auf dieses Archiv zurückgreifen konnte, kann man-
gels Quellen nicht entschieden werden.
32
2.2 Das sogenannte Archiv des Anani
2.2.1 Rekonstruktion des Archivs
TAD II präsentiert die dreizehn Dokumente B3.1-13 unter der Überschrift «The
Anani Archive».
33
Dabei wurden B3. 2-13 von Sebachgräbern auf dem Ruinenhü-
gel von Elephantine gefunden und von Charles Edwin Wilbour zwischen dem
28.1. und 12. 2.1893, also innerhalb von zwei Wochen, von drei verschiedenen
Frauen gekauft.
34
Auf Grund ihres Erhaltungszustandes können B3. 2-13 in fünf
Kate gorien eingeteilt werden:
30 Vgl. auch schon Sayce in Sayce-Cowley 1906, S. 5.
31 Dies gilt auch dann, wenn man B2.9 mit Botta 2009, S. 130 (vgl. auch Muffs 2003, S. 30),
dahingehend interpretiert, dass die Güter, um die es dort geht, wirklich nicht Eshor/Natan
gehört hatten und entsprechend von Jedanja (I) und seinem Bruder zurückerstattet wurden.
Das Dokument schützt in diesem Fall die beiden Brüder vor dem Vorwurf, doch noch unrechtes
Erbe in Besitz zu haben.
32 Denkbar ist auch, dass er ein eigenes Archiv besaß, zu dem Dokumente gehörten, in de-
nen Jedanja (I) ihm das Anrecht auf seinen Teil des Erbes bestätigte und zusicherte, in einem
Rechtsfall die entsprechenden Urkunden vorzulegen.
33 Vgl. schon Yaron 1961[a], S. 5-6, der zu diesem Archiv nur B3. 2-8 und 10-13 zählt. Ähnlich
Porten 1968, S. 234, der zusätzlich B3. 2 ausschließt.
34 Vgl. zur Fund- und Editionsgeschichte Kraeling 1953, S. 9-11.
187
aramäische archive aus achämenidischer zeit und ihre funktion
1 Acht Rollen lagen Kraeling, der die Texte 1953 editiert hat, noch als geschlos-
sene und versiegelte Dokumente vor. Leider nennt Kraeling nicht exakt,
welche diese waren, aber mit Sicherheit gehören B3.3 und B3.10-13 dazu, die
auf Pl. XXI in Kraelings Edition in diesem Zustand photographisch doku-
mentiert sind.
35
Neben diesen Rollen sind nur für B3.4-6 auch die Um schlags-
bereiche mit der Außenaufschrift nahezu unversehrt erhalten, so dass diese
die übrigen drei noch versiegelt aufgefundenen Rollen waren.
2 B3.9 (= Kraeling 8) war offenkundig ebenfalls noch vollständig erhalten von
Wilbour gekauft worden, aber wohl von ihm selbst geöffnet worden.
36
Of-
fenkundig ging dabei der äußerste Papyrusstreifen mit der Außenauf schrift
verloren.
3 Opfer eines dilettantischen Öffnungsversuches dürfte auch B3.8 sein, das
sich einschließlich des Umschlagsbereich mit der Außenaufschrift aus ei-
nem gesonderten Bündel an Fragmenten plus einiger davon getrennt aufbe-
wahrter Fragmente
37
nahezu vollständig rekonstruieren lässt. Offenkundig
war das Dokument erst nach der Auffindung in seine Fragmente zerfallen,
die dann gebündelt an das Museum gingen.
38
4 B3. 2 ist ebenfalls nur aus Fragmenten zusammengesetzt, von denen aber
nicht bekannt ist, ob sie als gesondertes Bündel vorlagen. Jedoch ist nicht
nur der Textbereich nahezu vollständig erhalten, sondern auch einige kleine
beschriftete Fragmente, die dort nicht eingeordnet werden können und so-
mit wahrscheinlich zur Außenaufschrift gehörten. So ist es wahrscheinlich
ebenfalls nach seiner Auffindung das Opfer eines verfrühten Versuches, es zu
öffnen, gewesen.
39
5 Auch B3.7 ist nachträglich aus Fragmenten rekonstruiert. Im Unterschied
aber zu den vorgenannten Dokumenten ist auffällig, dass der Beginn des
Textes zwar völlig erhalten ist, dieser aber exakt mit dem oberen Rand des
erhaltenen Papyrus zusammenfällt, so dass man den Eindruck hat, der obere
Umschlagsbereich mit der Außenaufschrift sei abgeschnitten gewesen. Im
35 Die fünf Dokumente sind von oben nach unten B3.3, 10, 11, 13 und 12.
36 «One roll (No. 8) he [scil. Wilbour, I. K.] may have tried unsuccessfully to open, for it came
to the museum in two separated, folded pieces», Kraeling 1953, S. 11.
37 Die Außenaufschrift wurde von Kraeling 1953 als Papyrus 15 ediert, einige Fragmente fan-
den sich auch unter den nicht eingeordneten Fragmenten von Pl. XVIII.
38 Vgl. Kraeling 1953, Pl. XXIII.
39 Vgl. Szubin-Porten 1983[b], S. 279, die, ohne ihre Quelle zu nennen, mitteilen, dass «[a]n
early attempt to open it, probably by the purchaser of the Document, Charles Edwin Wilbour,
miscarried, and it broke to pieces».
188
Unterschied zu den anderen Dokumenten fehlt auch ein großes Stück am
Ende. Beides lässt sich dahingehend erklären, dass das Dokument schon in
der Antike geöffnet und dabei der obere Teil entfernt wurde. Danach könnte
das Dokument falsch herum aufgerollt aufbewahrt worden sein, was den grö-
ßeren Verlust im unteren Bereiches erklären würde. Damit würde es sich um
ein juristisch nicht mehr gültiges Dokument handeln, bei dem die Außenauf-
schrift und möglicherweise sogar die Zeugenliste entfernt worden war.
40
Die Wahrscheinlichkeit, dass innerhalb von vierzehn Tagen eine ganze Gruppe
noch verschlossener Dokumente an unterschiedlichen Orten ergraben wurde,
die sich dann noch alle auf dieselbe Familie beziehen, ist äußerst gering, so dass
die Zugehörigkeit der Dokumente der ersten 3 Kategorien (B3.3; B3.4-6 und
B3.8-13) zu einem Archiv kaum zu bezweifeln sein wird. Da es Indizien dafür
gibt, dass auch B3. 2 (Kategorie 4) erst nach der Auffindung zerfallen war, kann
es ebenfalls mit recht hoher Wahrscheinlichkeit zu dieser Gruppe gezählt wer-
den. Der abweichende Erhaltungszustand von B3.7 (Kategorie 5) lässt sich sach-
lich damit erklären, dass es sich hierbei um ein schon in der Antike geöff netes
Dokument handelt (s. auch unten), und ist somit kein Gegenar gument gegen
die Zuordnung dieses Textes zu dem vorliegenden Archiv. Da es zudem aus
derselben Familie wie die übrigen Dokumente stammt und sogar zu einem
Themenbereich gehört, der auch in anderen Dokumenten dieser Gruppe behan-
delt wird, darf daher auch für dieses Dokument die Zugehörigkeit zu demselben
Archiv angenommen werden.
41
Die Zugehörigkeit von B3.1 zu diesem Archiv, die TAD II, S. 53, nahelegt, ist je-
doch nicht zu rechtfertigen. Zwar wurde es auch noch in aufgerolltem und versie-
geltem Zustand gefunden, stammt aber aus der späteren deutschen Ausgrabung,
was keine nähere räumliche Zuordnung zu dem Fundort der anderen Dokumen-
ten erlaubt. Die Annahme, dass die Stelle, die schon 1893 von den Sebachgräbern
abgetragen wurde, dieselbe sei, an der man über ein Jahrzehnt später in 0,5 m
Tiefe wiederum ein solches Dokument fand, wäre doch zu unwahrscheinlich.
42
40 Trifft dies zu, so ist Frag. d nicht an das Ende des Dokumentes zu lokalisieren, obwohl es
am unteren Rand einen freien Zeilenabschnitt erkennen lässt. Ein solcher kann aber, wie z. B.
B3.9 erkennen lässt, auch dadurch entstehen, dass die Zeugenliste in einer neuen Zeile an-
setzt, die nicht ganz ausgeschrieben wird. Damit wäre aber die offenkundige Namensangabe
@ɮɗɚɟ>auf diesem Fragment wohl dem Schreibernamen zuzuordnen.
41 Es sei aber betont, dass dies nur deshalb zulässig ist, weil die Fragmente von B3.7 offen-
kundig auch zur gleichen Zeit von der selben Gruppe von Sebachgräbern gefunden wurde. Die
Wahrscheinlichkeit, dass dieses Dokument von einem anderen Ort stammt und sich nur zufäl-
ligerweise inhaltlich perfekt an die übrigen anschließt, ist äußerst gering.
42 Vgl. zu diesem Text aber auch Anm. 49.
189
aramäische archive aus achämenidischer zeit und ihre funktion
2.2.2 Der Inhalt des Archivs
Die Familienverhältnisse der in diesen Texten genannten Personen sind recht
komplex. Mešullam bar Zakkur (I) hatte eine Leibeigene namens Tapemet, wel-
che Anani (I) bar Asarja geheiratet hatte. Ihre leibliche Tochter war Jehoišma
(B3.7, 2-3.8.17; B3.10, 2. 27; B3.11, 2. 21; B3.12,18), die aber rechtlich als Tochter
Mešullams, des ehemaligen Besitzers ihrer Mutter, galt. Dies geht nicht nur aus
der Formulierung «Jehoišma ..., deine [scil. Tapemets, IK.] Tochter, die du mir
[scil. Mešullam, IK.] geboren hast» in der Urkunde, mit der Tapemet und ihre
Tochter aus der Leibeigenschaft entlassen werden (B3.6,4-5), hervor, sondern
auch aus der Tatsache, dass nach dem Tod Mešullams sein Sohn Zakkur (II) recht-
lich als Bruder der Jehoišma gilt und für sie den Ehevertrag abschließt.
43
Ihr Ehe-
mann war Anani (II) bar Haggai. Das vorliegende Archiv ist das des Anani (II)
und seiner Ehefrau Jehoišma. Dies geht mit Sicherheit daraus hervor, dass die
letzten beiden Dokumente (B3.12 und 13) aus dem Jahr 402 für bzw. von Anani
(II) ausgestellt wurden.
Dass dieses Archiv neben Urkunden, die den rechtmäßigen Besitz einer
Immobilie durch Anani (II) (B3.12 [Jahr 402]) und seine Frau Jehoišma (B3.7
[Jahr 420], B3.10 [Jahr 404], B3.11 [Jahr 402]) belegen, auch den Ehevertrag der
Jehoišma (B3.8 [Jahr 420]) enthält, entspricht dem Bild, das auch das soge-
n annte Archiv der Mibtahja ergab. Die in den Texten genannte Immobilie war
dem Paar sukzessive von den Eltern der Jehoišma übereignet worden. Dement-
sprechend kam das Paar auch in den Besitz der Kaufurkunde, mit der Anani (I)
das Haus erworben hatte (B3.4 [Jahr 437]), sowie einer Urkunde, mit der Anani
einen Teil der Immobilie an seine Frau Tapemet überschrieben hatte (B3.5 [Jahr
434]). Im Kontext des vorliegenden Archivs belegen diese Dokumente, dass Ana-
ni (I) und seine Frau als rechtmäßige Besitzer die Immobilie an ihre Tochter bzw.
deren Ehemann übergeben haben.
44
Selbstverständlich gehört das Dokument der Freilassung Tapemets und ih-
rer Tochter Jehoišma durch Mešullam (B3.6 [Jahr 427]) als rechtlich höchst be-
deutsam in das Archiv Jehoišmas und ihres Mannes. Dieses Dokument regelte
zugleich auch das zukünftige Verhältnis Jehoišmas zu Zakkur (II), dem Sohn
Mešullams. Sie und ihre Mutter haben verbindlich zugesichert, Mešullam und,
nach dessen Tod, auch seinen Sohn zu unterstützen «wie ein Sohn oder eine
Tochter ihren Vater» (B3.6,11-15).
Dem rechtlich komplexen Status von Tapemet und ihrer Tochter Jehoišma
entspricht, dass im Archiv der Tochter und ihres Ehemannes sogar die Heirats-
urkunde ihrer Mutter Tapemet aufbewahrt wurde (B3.3 [Jahr 437]), die aus der
Zeit vor ihrer Freilassung datiert. Das Dokument zeigt deutlich, dass die erb-
43 B3.8; in Z. 3, 4 und 5 wird Jehoišma ausdrücklich als Schwester Zakkurs (II) bezeichnet.
44 Vgl. auch Szubin-Porten 1983[a], S. 35.41-45.
190
rechtlichen Implikationen einer Ehe zwischen einer Unfreien und einem Frei-
en nicht a priori festgelegt waren, sondern einer besonderen, einvernehmlichen
Regelung bedurften. Im endgültigen Text werden die Eheleute jeweils gegen-
seitig als uneingeschränkte Erben des gemeinsamen Besitzes eingesetzt, aber
diese Bestimmung ist als Korrektur über eine andere Bestimmung geschrieben
worden, nach der eine dritte Person Erbe der Hälfte des Besitzes sein sollte. Da bei
dürfte diese Person wohl Mešullam, der damalige Besitzer Tapemets, gewe sen
sein, was, wie § 176 des Kodex Hammurapi zeigt, nicht ungewöhnlich ge wesen
wäre.
45
Mithin bestand durchaus das Risiko, dass Erben Mešullams nach dem
Tod Ananis (I) oder seiner Frau Tapemet Anspruch auf ein Teil des Erbes erhe-
ben konnten, der mit diesem Ehevertrag aber abgelehnt werden konnte.
46
Dass
dieses Dokument in das Archiv des Anani (II) und seiner Frau Jehoišma gelang-
te, legt damit auch die Vermutung nahe, dass Jehoišma die einzige Erbin ihrer
Eltern war, und dass Pilti, der als Sohn der Tapemet (und wahrscheinlich Ananis
[I]) in ihrem Ehevertrag erwähnt wurde (B3.3,13), relativ früh verstarb oder aus
einem anderen Grund als Erbe nicht (mehr) in Frage kam. Dem ent spricht auch
B3. 2 (Jahr 451), in dem ein gewisser Micha gegenüber Anani (I) bezeugt, dass er
in Bezug auf eine Sache keinerlei Ansprüche mehr hat und entsprechend nicht
mehr klagen kann.
47
Auch dieses Dokument hat wohl Anani (I) an seine Tochter
bzw. seinen Schwiegersohn vererbt, die damit sich als seine Rechtsnachfolger
erweisen.
Nur auf den ersten Blick scheint aber B3.9 keinen inhaltlichen Bezug zu den
übrigen Texten zu haben. Es handelt sich bei diesem Dokument aus dem Jahr 416
um die rechtlich bindende Zusage eines gewissen Uria an Zakkur (II), der von
Rechts wegen als Bruder Jehoišmas galt, dass weder Uria noch seine Nach fah ren
Zakkurs leiblichen Sohn Jedanja, den Uria adoptiert hatte, zu einem Leib eigenen
machen können, sondern Jedanja als rechtmäßiger Sohn Urias gelten soll.
Dass auch dieses Dokument in das Archiv der Jehoišma und ihres Mannes ge-
langte, könnte zwei Gründe haben. Zum einen dürfte die Zu sicherung Urias,
dass Jedanja sein Sohn wird (ɚɛɚɟ ɟɮɗ, Z. 5) implizieren, dass damit Jedanja,
45 Deutlich ist zu erkennen, das in Z. 11 ein ursprüngliches ɢɡɘɢɪɗɞɟɢɯ «(der) Verfügungsge-
walt über die Hälfte von allem hat» in ein ɢɡɗɚɞɟɢɯ «(die) Verfügungsgewalt über alles hat»
geändert worden ist. Entsprechend wurde auch in Z. 12 ein ɢɡɘɢɪɗ in ɢɡɗ korrigiert (vgl. Yaron
1961[b], S. 129-130). Z. 11 enthielt den Namen der männlichen Person, die zunächst die Hälfte er-
ben sollte, der aber nahezu völlig ausgelöscht und mit ɟɚɰɤɰ «Ta(pe)met ist es, die» überschrie-
ben wurde. Da sich die erhaltenen Schriftspuren am Schluss durchaus zu ɛɚɮɛɡ ergänzen lassen
und der erste Name sicher ein ɢ enthielt, ist die von Porten 1968, S. 211 auf Grundlage des schon
von Yaron angeführten § 176 des Codex Hammurapi vorgeschlagene Lesung ɮɗɣɢɯɤ ɛɚɮɛɡɜ
«Mešullam bar Zakkur ist es, der» naheliegend.
46 Damit ist die Vermutung Porten 1968, S. 234, nicht zutreffend, dass die Aufbewahrung des
Ehevertrages ihrer Mutter durch Jehoišma und ihren Mann «had little more than sentimental
value since the dowry which usually went to the children was most meager».
47 Vgl. zu diesem Dokument auch Szubin-Porten 1983[b].
191
aramäische archive aus achämenidischer zeit und ihre funktion
soweit keine andere Verfügung Zakkurs vorliegt, nicht mehr als Erbberechtig-
ter Zakkurs auftreten kann. Angesichts der Versorgungsverpflich tung, die Je-
hoišma nach B3.6 auch gegenüber Zakkur übernommen hatte, war dies für sie
durchaus von Bedeutung. Jedanja konnte eben keine daraus eventuell ableit bare
Ansprüche an Jehoišma stellen – und wahrscheinlich auch keine An sprüche mehr
auf das Erbe seines leiblichen Vaters und Großvaters, von dem möglicherweise
Jehoišma als rechtliche Tochter Mešullams und Schwester Zakkurs (II) profitiert
haben könnte. Ein völlig anderer Grund aber könnte auch sein, dass Zakkur das
Dokument an seine «Schwester» bzw. ihren Mann bei seinem Tod weitergege-
ben und sie somit als Rechtswahrer für seinen Sohn eingesetzt hat, um diesen
vor einer späteren Versklavung zu schützen. Das Dokument direkt an Jedanja zu
geben, hätte kontraproduktiv sein können, da sein neuer Vater es ihm wegneh-
men konnte und somit kein Rechtsmittel mehr verfügbar gewesen wäre, eine
nachträgliche Versklavung zu verhindern. Ohne weitere Quellen wird man hier
keine endgültige Entscheidung für die eine oder andere Möglichkeit treffen
können, wenn auch deutlich ist, dass es durchaus sachlich-juristische Gründe
gegeben haben kann, dass auch dieses Dokument in Ananis (II) Archiv sich
fand.
48
Von besonderem Interesse ist B3.13 (Jahr 402), ein Dokument über ein Dar-
lehen, dass Anani (II) aufgenommen hat. Solche Darlehensdokumente wurden
für den Gläubiger – hier ein gewisser Pahnum – ausgestellt und verblieben bei
diesem, solange die Schuld nicht beglichen wurde, damit dieser es gegebenen-
falls in einem Prozess vorweisen konnte. Wenn dieses Dokument sich aber im
Archiv des Schuldners Anani (II) findet, so bedeutet dies folglich, dass das Dar-
lehen zurückgezahlt war. Dass Anani (II) dieses Dokument aufbewahrte, kann
damit erklärt werden, dass eine Schuldurkunde in den Händen des Schuldners
als Beleg galt, dass die Schuld bezahlt worden war.
49
Die rechtliche Bedeutung von B3.7 aus dem Jahr 420, die dieses Dokument
für Anani (II) und seine Frau Jehoišma gehabt haben könnte, ist unklar. Die Ur-
kunde hat die Überschreibung von Rechten an einem Haus durch Anani (I) an
seine Tochter Jehoišma zum Inhalt, die aber im Jahr 404 und 402 durch B3.10


48 Dies wurde von Porten 1968, S. 234, bezweifelt; vgl. auch Yaron 1961[a], S. 5-6.40.
49 Ein anderes Beispiel für eine zurückgegebene Schuldurkunde dürfte B3.1 sein, die aus dem
Jahr 456 stammt. Sie beurkundet ein Darlehen von 4 Schekel Silber, dass Mešullam bar Zak-
kur einer gewissen Jehohen gewährt hat. TAD ordnet dieses Dokument dem Archiv des Anani
zu, was aber, abgesehen davon, dass das Dokument wohl kaum an derselben Stelle gefunden
wurde (s.o.), auch inhaltlich nicht plausibel ist. Träfe dies zu, so wäre die Urkunde ja immer im
Bereich der «Familie» Mešullams bzw. seiner Rechtsnachfolger geblieben, was bedeuten wür-
de, dass sie nie bezahlt und offenkundig auch nie eingefordert wurde. Daher ist es viel wahr-
scheinlicher, dass das Dokument aus dem Archiv der Jehohen stammt, die die Schuld bezahlt,
die Urkunde ausgehändigt bekommen und als Beleg für die Rückzahlung aufbewahrt hat.
192
und 11 erweitert und auf eine neue rechtliche Basis gestellt wurden. Damit war
das Dokument von 420 (B3.7) prozessrechtlich obsolet, was erklären könnte,
warum wohl schon in der Antike die Außenaufschrift und möglicherweise auch
die Zeugenliste entfernt worden war und nur noch der Inhaltsteil aufbewahrt
wurde. Möglicherweise war das Dokument im Kontext der Überschreibungen
von 404/402 geöffnet und dann der Vollständigkeit halber oder zur späteren In-
formation über den offensichtlich komplexen Vorgang mit den beiden neuen
Dokumenten zusammen aufbewahrt worden.
2.2.3 Zusammenfassung
Das Privatarchiv des Anani (II) und seiner Frau Jehoišma entspricht grund sätzlich
dem Archiv des Jedanja. Wie jenes enthält auch dieses nur Rechtsdo kumente, die
einen Bezug zum Besitz und rechtlichen Status der Archiveigner haben und aus
einer überschaubaren Zeitspanne von 50 Jahren stammen. Dies gilt auch dann,
wenn die Urkunde in Bezug auf die Adoption des «Neffen» der Jehoišma (B3.9)
an diese oder ihren Ehemann gegeben wurde, um den Perso nen standstatus des
«Neffen» als Sohn und nicht Leibeigener seines Adoptiv vaters nach dem Tod
seines leiblichen Vaters zu sichern. Damit hätten Jehoišma bzw. ihr Ehemann
den Rechtsstatus eines Rechtswahrers, und auch dieses Do kument würde damit
einen Bezug zu ihrer rechtlichen Stellung haben. Während die Dokumente des
ersten Archivs aber alle noch geschlossen und für eine Verwendung in einem
Prozess geeignete Urkunden waren, enthält das Archiv des Anani auch ein Doku-
ment, dass wahrscheinlich schon in der Antike geöffnet worden und damit pro-
zessrechtlich unbrauchbar war. Da es aber einen rechtlichen Vorgang dokumen-
tiert, der eine Vorstufe zu späteren, durch ge schlossene Dokumente bezeugte
Vorgänge betrifft, ist seine Existenz in diesem Archiv durchaus nachvollziehbar.
Die Tatsache, dass alle diese Dokumente entweder nahezu unversehrt erhal ten
sind bzw. sich sonst nahezu vollständig rekonstruieren lassen und es Hin weise
gibt, dass sie erst nach ihrer Auffindung zerstört worden waren, lässt ver muten,
dass sie ähnlich wie das erste Archiv ursprünglich in einem Kasten, oder, wie das
nächste Archiv, in einem Beutel deponiert worden waren, wodurch sie weitgehend
geschützt waren.
2.3 Das Briefarchiv des Nahthor
2.3.1 Rekonstruktion des Archivs
Ein völlig anderes Archiv liegt mit dem Briefarchiv des Nahthor, eines Beam-
ten des Satrapen Aršames, vor, das 1954 von Driver publiziert wurde (A6.3-16).
Obwohl die Fundumstände völlig unbekannt sind, spricht die Tatsache, dass sie
nicht nur zusammen, sondern auch mit einer Ledertasche und einer Sammlung
193
aramäische archive aus achämenidischer zeit und ihre funktion
von Bullen gekauft wurden, dafür, dass sie ursprünglich in dieser Tasche aufbe-
wahrt worden waren.
50
2.3.2 Inhalt des Archivs
Das Archiv
51
besteht aus zwei unterschiedlichen Gruppen von Briefen. Die eine
Hälfte (A6.10-16) sind Briefe, die an den Beamten Nahthor adressiert waren und
alle mit seinen Dienstaufgaben in Verbindung stehen.
52
Dies gilt dann auch für
A6.9, der die Ausgabe für die Rationen regelte, die Nahthor bei seiner Reise im
Auftrag Aršames’ nach Ägypten zustanden.
Die übrigen Briefe handeln zumeist von Psamšek, dem Vorgänger Nahthors
(A6.10,1), sind aber nicht an diesen addressiert (A6.3-4; A6.8). Dementsprechend
stehen in diesen Briefen auch nicht die Dienstaufgaben Psamšeks zur Diskus-
sion, sondern sie bestätigen die Autorität dieses Beamten in Ägypten. So weist
Aršames in A6.4 einen anderen Beamten an, dass er Psamšek als Verwalter sei-
ner Domäne in der Nachfolge des Vaters handeln lassen soll. A6.3 greift in einen
Konflikt bezüglich früherer Leibeigener ein, die offenkundig die Zeit, die
Psamšek brauchte, um sein Amt anzutreten, nutzten, unter Mitnahme von Die-
besgut zu fliehen. Aršames spricht hier Psamšek als Nachfolger seines Vaters
die Ent scheidungsgewalt über diese Leibeigenen zu. A6.8 weist einen anderen
Beamten rechtsverbindlich an, Psamšek in Bezug auf die Domäne und einen
Truppenteil zu gehorchen. Mithin handeln alle diese Briefe von den Rechten
Psamšeks bzw. seiner Autorität als Beamter und Verwalter des Aršames. A6.7,
ein Brief, in dem Aršames die Haftentlassung einer Gruppe kilikischer Arbeiter
fordert, so dass diese wieder auf seiner Domäne Dienst tun können, schlägt ein
vergleichbares Thema an, obwohl in ihm Psamšek nicht erwähnt wird. Aber auch
die stark zerstörten Briefe A6.5 und 6 handeln offenkundig von der Verwaltung
der Do mäne des Aršames in Ägypten.
50 Vgl. Driver 1954, S. 1-2.
51 Zu den Texten und insbesondere zu ihrer rechtlichen Bedeutung vgl. jetzt auch Kottsieper
2012.
52 A6.10 ist eine rechtsverbindliche Verwarnung Aršames gegen Nahthor, mit dessen Leistun-
gen er nicht zufrieden ist; A6.11 teilt Nahthor eine Entscheidung in einem Rechtsfall mit, der
entsprechend er dann handeln soll; A6.12 weist ihn an, einen Bildhauer eine Statue anfertigen
zu lassen und ihm Rationen zur Versorgung auszugeben; A6.13 ist eine Anweisung, sich um die
Angelegenheit einer anderen Domäne in Ägypten zu kümmern; A6.14 ist eine Aufforderung,
dafür zu sorgen, dass die Einkünfte einer anderen Domäne nach Babylonien gebracht werden
sollen; A6.15 ist eine Reaktion auf Klagen über Nahthor und sein Vorgehen gegen andere, und
eine Anweisung, wie er sich korrekt verhalten soll; A6.16 ist offenkundig eine Reklamation
über falsche Güter, die Nahthor gesandt hat.
194
2.3.3. Zusammenfassung
Aus der gegebenen Übersicht zeigt sich recht eindrücklich, dass das vorliegen-
de Archiv unter dem Gesichtspunkt der Amtsgeschäfte des Nahthor zusam-
men gestellt ist. Dazu gehören natürlich die Schreiben, die seine Amtspflichten
betreffen und entsprechende Anweisungen enthalten, aber auch die Schreiben
aus der Zeit seines Vorgängers, die die Autorität des Verwalters an sich bzw. das
Dienstverhältnis von Untergebenen betreffen. Dass in diesem Archiv offenkun-
dig keine direkte Dienstanweisung an seinen Vorgänger zu finden ist, zeigt, dass
entweder Nahthor bei seinem Dienstantritt diese als für seine Aufgabe irrele-
vant ausgesondert hat, oder aber, dass Psamšek bei der Übergabe der Do ku mente
nur solche weitergab, die für das Tagesgeschäft seines Nachfolgers noch von Be-
deutung sein konnten, wozu er sicher nicht die konkreten Dienstan weisungen,
die er selber erhalten hatte, rechnete. Es handelt sich hiermit also um ein deut-
lich sachbezogenes Archiv, das im Wesentlichen nur die älteren Doku mente
auf be wahrt, die für den aktuellen Archivinhaber von Bedeutung waren. Dem
ent spricht, dass auch hier wirklich alte Dokumente aus früheren Zeiten, etwa
aus der Dienstzeit von Psamšeks Vater, nicht vorliegen und wir von diesem nur
indirekt aus den Briefen aus der Zeit von Psamšeks Dienst erfahren (A6.3-4).
2.4 Die Texte vom Wadi Daliye
1962 wurde von Beduinen in einer Höhle im Wadi Daliye bei Jericho eine Samm-
lung von Dokumenten entdeckt, die dort offenbar im Zusammenhang mit den
Wirren am Ende der Perserzeit von Flüchtlingen aus Samaria mitgebracht wor-
den waren, die dann in der Höhle ihren Tod fanden.
53
Die Texte selbst waren of-
fenkundig noch alle aufgerollt und gesiegelt gewesen, wenn auch einige wohl
schon vor ihrer Auffindung stark verrottet waren, andere möglicherweise durch
die Beduinen geöffnet wurden. So fanden sich auch eine große Anzahl von Bul-
len, mit denen die Rollen versiegelt gewesen waren, sowie Reste der Schnüre,
mit denen man sie umwickelt hatte.
Soweit es die zum Teil erheblich zerstörten Texte erkennen lassen, handelt
es sich bei diesen um Handels- und Rechtsurkunden, wobei die Mehrzahl sich
auf den Sklavenhandel (WDSP 1-9, 18-20, 22, 26) oder den Verleih von Sklaven
(WDSP 10, 12-13, 17, 27) beziehen. WDSP 14 und 15 handeln von Immobilien,
WDSP 16 vielleicht von einem Weingarten, während WDSP 11, 21 und 23-25 das
Objekt der Rechtsvorgänge nicht mehr erkennen lassen. WDSP 28-37 sind zu
zerstört, um noch mit ausreichender Sicherheit ihr Thema und ihre Rechtsgat-
tung zu bestimmen. Die Urkunden stammen aus der Zeit von 375 bis spä testens
53 Vgl. den Fundbericht in Cross 1963 und Anm. 56; die massgeblichen Editionen sind Gropp
2001 und jetzt DuŠek 2007.
195
aramäische archive aus achämenidischer zeit und ihre funktion
332 v.Chr.
54
Da in mehreren Texten, die aus der Zeit von 335 und früher stam-
men, ein gewisser Jehonur bar Laneri insbesondere als Käufer von Sklaven auf-
tritt, in einer anderer Gruppe von Dokumenten, die etwa in die Zeit von 375-
340 datieren, Jehopadaini bzw. sein Sohn Netira in dieser Funktion begegnen,
geht Dušek davon aus, dass zumindest ein großer Teil der Texte den Archiven der
genannten Personen zuzuordnen sei.
55
Dies ist möglich, aber nicht zu sichern.
Dass alle Dokumente an einer einzigen Stelle in der relativ großen Höhle, die
über hundert Flüchtlinge beherbergt hatte, gefunden wurden,
56
kann man zwar
damit erklären, dass hier befreundete Familien ihre Dokumente zusammen ver-
borgen hatten. Möglich ist aber auch, dass solche Urkunden in einem zentralen
Archiv einer Institution gesammelt waren, deren Aufgabe es war, insbesondere
Transaktionen von Leibeigenen zu kontrollieren und/oder zu gewähren, dass
der Status der Betroffenen als Unfreie nachweisbar war. In einer antiken Stadt-
gesellschaft spielte dies eine große Rolle.
57
Trotz der großen Unsicherheit darüber, ob wir es hier mit einem oder meh-
reren Archiven zu tun haben und wem diese dienten, zeigt auch dieser Textfund
grundsätzlich, dass solche Archive nicht beliebige Dokumente enthielten, son-
dern inhaltliche Schwerpunkte hatten. Und sie dienten nicht zur Aufbewahrung
obsolet gewordener Dokumente, sondern, wie die kurze Zeitspanne von 40 Jah-
ren zeigt, enthielten sie durchweg nur solche, von denen man annahm, dass sie
noch geschäftlich oder juristisch gebraucht wurden. Im Hinblick auf Leib ei gene
waren Handels- und Freilassungsurkunden nach dem Tod des bet reffenden Leib-
eigenen im Normalfall obsolet oder allenfalls noch für seine direkten Kinder von
Bedeutung. Dies entspricht dem Zeitraum von ca. 40 Jahren aus der die Urkun-
den stammen. Dass ein Sklave länger als 40 Jahre lebte oder als Leibeigener von
Interesse war, dürfte eher die Ausnahme gewesen sein.
2.5 Sammeltexte als Archive
Ebenfalls als eine Art von Archiv können die Rollen angesprochen werden, die
Abschriften oder Zusammenfassungen von Einzeldokumenten enthielten und
wiederum in Ägypten gefunden wurden. Dabei sind folgende Formen belegt:
54 Vgl. DuŠek 2007, S. 441-445.
55 Vgl. DuŠek 2007, S. 458-466.
56 Vgl. Cross 1963, S. 113-114: «the cave of the papyri ... penetrates into the southern cliff-side
for some 65 meters. ... The find spot proved to be in a remote recess of a deep passageway. ... The
number of skeletons ... found ... was staggering. Dr. Lapp reports more than eighty recovered in
the first campaign, and estimates that the full count ... may reach 200».
57 Auch die Rechtsurkunden hinsichtlich von Immobilien könnten bei einer solchen Institu-
tion hinterlegt sein, zumal die erhaltenen Reste nicht erkennen lassen, um was es bei ihnen im
Einzelnen geht.
196
1 Rollen, die Abrechnungen enthalten. Insbesondere eindrücklich ist hier die
Erstbeschriftung des Aḥiqar-Palimpsests (C3.7). Dieser wohlbekannte Weis-
heitstext wurde auf eine Rolle geschrieben, die aus Blättern von mindestens
zwei älteren Rollen zusammengesetzt war.
58
Dabei enthielten diese älteren
Rollen einzelne Reporte darüber, welche Schiffe man an welchem Tag bei ih-
rer Ankunft bzw. Abfahrt inspiziert hatte, was sie an Ladung mit sich führ-
ten und welche Abgaben man erhoben hatte. Die einzelnen Monate werden
durch Summenangaben abgeschlossen, wie auch eine Zusammenfassung
der Daten am Ende der Rollen zu finden war. Da diese Rollen offenkundig
in einem Zug geschrieben und nicht Tag für Tag ergänzt wurden, kann mit
Si cherheit davon ausgegangen werden, dass dem Schreiber einzelne Doku-
men te vorlagen, deren Angaben er hier nicht nur zusammenfasst, sondern
detailliert dokumentiert. Solche Rollen ersetzen somit die Sammlung bzw.
ein wohlgeordnetes Archiv der einzelnen Schriftstücke. Von besonderer
Bedeutung ist aber auch, dass solche Schriftrollen nur für einen bestimm-
ten Zeitraum aufbewahrt wurden. So wurde ihr Inhalt nach einigen Jahren
ge löscht und der Papyrus für einen literarischen Text genutzt. Damit ent-
sprechen sie den bisher behandelten Archiven in zwei wesentlichen Aspek-
ten: Sie haben eine klare Funktion, d.h. sie sind keine beliebige Sammlung
von Dokumenten, und sie sind nicht auf die Sicherung der Dokumente für
einen beliebig langen Zeitraum angelegt, sondern werden offenkundig dann
aufgegeben, wenn ihre Funktion erfüllt ist. Es sind also keine Archive für die
Nachwelt, sondern funktionale Sammlungen für die Gegenwart.
2 Dass einzelne Dokumente als Abschriften in Rollen gesammelt wurden, illus-
triert auch C3.13. Dass diese Rolle Einzeldokumente archiviert, wird nicht nur
darin deutlich, dass die einzelnen Dokumente zumeist deutlich durch eine
Leerzeile und einen horizontalen Strich am rechten Rand voneinander abge-
setzt sind, sondern insbesondere dadurch, dass die einzelnen Texte teil weise
einen unterschiedlichen formalen Aufbau haben und sogar noch ihre Über-
schriften wie ɥɮɡɜ «Memorandum» (Z. 1, 10, 44, 50) oder ɢɨɥɮɡɜ «Memo-
randum über» (Z. 46, 48) enthalten.
59
Es handelt sich also um eine Sammlung
von Memoranden, die, soweit der erhaltene Text es erkennen lässt, alle den
Transfer von Gütern zum Thema haben, so dass auch hier themenorientiertes
Archiv vorliegt.
3 Schließlich sei auf die Sammlungen von Gerichtsprotokollen verwiesen, von
denen sich mehrere in Saqqara gefunden haben (B8.1-12). Wie in C3.13 sind
58 Vgl. hierzu jetzt Kottsieper 2009, S. 152-156.
59 Vgl. A4.9 als Beispiel eines einzelnen Memorandums; dass die Einzeldokumente auch an-
ders beginnen konnten, zeigt Z. 23, wo mit @ɐɝɗ möglicherweise eine Orts- oder Zeitangabe am
Anfang stand.
197
aramäische archive aus achämenidischer zeit und ihre funktion
dabei die einzelnen Fälle durch Leerzeilen (B8.2; B8.4; B8.7), Striche an den
Seiten (B8.2) oder sogar durch ein stilisiertes ɖ in einer Leerzeile (B8.5) oder
nur durch Absatzschreibung (B8.6) voneinander getrennt. Dabei belegen B8.7
und 8, dass die einzelnen Dokumente durchaus auch unterschiedliche Schritte
bei der Rechtsfindung in einem einzelnen Fall betreffen konnten. So sind in
diesen Rollen einzelne Vernehmungsprotokolle, die offenkundig sukzessive
durchgeführt worden waren, mit Leerzeile und Strich voneinan der getrennt.
Solche Rollen sind Zeugen einer Art «amtlichen» Archivierung von Dokumen-
ten über Einzelvorgänge, wobei auch hier die Ausrichtung auf eine bestimmte
Funktion grundlegend ist. Es sind nicht einfach Dokumentensammlungen oder
Urkundenbücher, die alle möglichen Dokumente und Urkunden beinhalten,
sondern Rollen, in denen Dokumente zu einem amtlichen Aufgabenbereich in
Abschriften gesammelt wurden. Dabei handelt es sich nicht um Rechtsurkun-
den, sondern um informative Dokumente, deren Informationen zu einem
Thema oder Bereich auf diese Weise archiviert wurden. Offenkundig konnten
aber diese Archivrollen dann, wenn ihre Informationen nicht mehr gebraucht
wurden, anderen Zwecken zugeführt werden. Dies belegt nicht nur das Aḥiqar-
Palimpsest, sondern z. B. auch B8. 2, dessen Einzeldokumente in eine Rolle ge-
schrieben wurden, die ursprünglich andere Verwaltungstexte enthielt.
3 Zusammenfassung
Die Durchsicht der Textgruppen bzw. Texte, die mit hinreichender äußerer Evi-
denz als Zeugen ursprünglicher und nicht erst modern rekonstruierter Archive
angesprochen werden können, ergibt ein erstaunlich klares Bild. Solche Archi-
ve enthielten Dokumente, die für den Archivbesitzer eine konkrete Funktion in
der Gegenwart hatten. Sie dienten nicht der Aufbewahrung beliebiger Schrift-
stücke, die man möglicherweise aus «sentimentalen» Gründen behalten woll te.
Dementsprechend enthalten die Archive der Privatpersonen Rechtsdoku men te,
die sich auf die Besitzstandsrechte und/oder den Rechtsstatus des Ar chiveigners
beziehen. Es sind keine Familienarchive, die der Familien ge schich te dienen,
sondern aus der Vergangenheit werden normalerweise nur solche Dokumente
aufbewahrt, die noch für die Gegenwart in ihrer Funktion als Rechtsdokumente
eine Funktion haben.
Dies entspricht den Archiven mit einem institutionellen Hintergrund. Da
es hier nicht darum ging, den Rechtsanspruch einer Privatperson zu sichern,
sondern die Verwaltung mit Informationen über Abläufe zu versorgen, war hier
eine sekundäre Form der Archivierung beliebt: die Abschrift einzelner Urkun-
den zu einem bestimmten Themenbereich. Der Vorteil liegt auf der Hand. Eine
Rolle lässt sich leichter transportieren oder deponieren als eine größere Anzahl
einzelner Papyrusblätter oder Dokumente – und in ihr lassen sich die Informa-
198
tionen auch gleich fest in eine sachliche oder zeitliche Ordnung bringen. Aber
auch hier gilt der Grundsatz, dass ein solches Archiv nicht für die Nachwelt an-
gelegt wurde, sondern für einen zeitnahen Gebrauch, nach dem es obsolet wurde
und entsprechend entsorgt werden konnte.
Das Archiv des Beamten Nahthor entspricht den Privatarchiven darin, dass es
sich deutlich auf die Funktion und das damit verbundene Amt einer einzel nen
Person bezieht.
Möglicherweise belegen die Dokumente aus dem Wadi Daliye, dass ins-
beson dere für Rechtsurkunden in Bezug auf Leibeigene im Palästina der aus-
gehen den Perserzeit auch zentrale Archive existieren konnten, durch die eine
Institution den für eine Gesellschaft rechtlich und sozial konfliktträchtigen Be-
reich des Status von Freien und Unfreien kontrollieren konnte, in dem sie die
entsprechenden Urkunden sammelte und so vor Zerstörung sicherte. Aber auch
hier findet sich kein Hinweis darauf, dass solchen Archiven eine Funktion über
die Gegenwart hinaus zugesprochen wurde. Falls diese Dokumente jedoch aus
Privatarchiven stammen sollten, so würden diese den in Ägypten gefunden en
funktional entsprechen.
199 aramäische archive aus achämenidischer zeit und ihre funktion
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A. Cowley, Aramaic Papyri of the
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Cross 1963
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201
la ‘presenza’ dei re negli archivi delle poleis ellenistiche
Gli studi recenti sulla storia e sulle pratiche dell’archiviazione nelle città greche
dimostrano che la capacità delle poleis di organizzare degli archivi ai fini delle
proprie esigenze gestionali e auto-rappresentative aveva trovato applicazione e
sviluppo ben prima dell’epoca alessandrina
1
.
Un corretto approccio al modo di gestione dei demosia grammata in età elleni-
stica deve dunque ancora una volta richiamarsi all’aspetto funzionale dell’archi-
viazione, che, nel trasformarsi delle circostanze storiche, politiche, istituzionali
generali, ne adattava i caratteri, incrementando la quantità del materiale tradizio-
nale, introducendo nuove specie e voci alle categorie usuali, inglobando nel siste-
ma i documenti “esterni” che richiedevano la registrazione, articolando in manie-
ra più idonea le diverse fasi e classi delle scritture da lungo tempo praticate
2
.

1 Per una sintesi, vd. Boffo 2003; Faraguna 2005; per considerazioni circa la necessità di
rivedere l’idea ancora diffusa del «perfezionamento» del sistema archivistico dei Greci com-
piutosi in età ellenistica per il contatto «più diretto» con il mondo orientale, vd. Boffo 2011a;
per aspetti specifici, vd. Faraguna 2000, 2003, 2011. I lavori indicati sono preliminari ad uno
studio completo su Le poleis e i loro archivi (a cura di M. Faraguna per l’età arcaica e classica, di L.
Boffo per l’età ellenistica), nel quale i diversi aspetti qui toccati solo tangenzialmente avranno
più organica trattazione. Ove non diversamente indicato, le date s’intendono a.C.
2 In questa prospettiva la (ovvia) dialettica fra storia politica e istituzioni, sui caratteri della
quale ha richiamato l’attenzione ad esempio Gauthier 1985, pp. 4-5, può trovare una definizione
La ‘presenza’ dei re
negli archivi delle poleis
ellenistiche
laura boffo
202
Quello che era cambiato era il contesto generale, che da un lato aveva porta-
to all’ampliamento delle relazioni amministrative e diplomatiche all’interno di
un sistema poleico e interpoleico (preesistente e accresciuto dalle fondazioni e
dalle promozioni di statuto) sempre più integrato, dall’altro aveva introdotto o
accentuato nei circuiti documentali intra- e infra-cittadini le diverse forme del-
la parola del re, con le sue esigenze e conseguenze politiche e amministrative
3
.
In questa prospettiva, appare del tutto giustificato ricondurre gli inizi del pe-
riodo «ellenistico» all’epoca (almeno) di Filippo II, le cui lettere risultano aver
ampiamente circolato e rappresentato materiale di opportuna conservazione
negli archivi delle città
4
. Allo stesso modo, quasi all’altro capo della fase “alta” del
periodo in questione, appare meritevole di considerazione per l’aspetto che qui
interessa la nota di Polibio (21,45, 2) che la sconfitta di Antioco III si prospetta-
va per le poleis dell’Asia Minore come una liberazione, «quale dal tributo, quale
dalla guarnigione, tutte dalle ordinanze regie» (×zÐoìoc 8c nzvtc¸ ¸zo:ì:×av
nçootzyµztav)
5
. La situazione che lo storico riferiva alle città che rientravano

più corretta, uscendo dai vincoli del mero rapporto di causa-effetto. La considerazione vale an-
che per le città di fondazione reale, le quali assumevano gli aspetti istituzionali delle poleis di
tradizione: non sorprende che nel 202 ca. il trattato tra Filippo V e Lisimachia terminasse c:; tz
8[¸µoo:z yçzµµztz], sigillato to:; 8¸µoo: [o:; 8z×tcì:o:;] (Staatsverträge III, 549, ll. 3-6). Vd.
anche quanto segue.
3 Una tipica espressione della interrelazione fra le poleis di vecchio e nuovo conio con am-
pia circolazione di documenti da conservare è costituita dalla cd. «diplomazia della parentela»,
la costruzione e pubblicizzazione organizzate delle «parentele» mitiche e storiche tra le città,
desiderose di trovare e dichiarare la loro collocazione nel nuovo contesto allargato: vd. Curty
1995; Jones (N. F.) 1999; Lücke 2000; Sammartano 2008/9; Patterson 2010. Per «la parola del
re» e il «dialogo» che ne conseguiva, oggetto di ampia considerazione in dottrina, vd. ad esem-
pio Mari 2009, pp. 89 sgg.; Virgilio 2011, pp. 27 sgg. L’attenzione specifica alla prassi ammini-
strativa e alle conseguenze archivistiche delle espressioni di quel dialogo, non valutate dagli
studiosi, può consentire alcuni chiarimenti circa il rapporto tra i diversi «discorsi politici», a
parere di chi scrive non soltanto riconducibile al rilancio delle opposte rappresentazioni (come
invece rilevato ad esempio da Bertrand 1990; Ma 2004, pp. 136 sgg.; Bencivenni 2010, pp. 167-
168, nt. 91; ma vd. la stessa Bencivenni 2003, p. 280, nt. 68, a proposito della vicenda di Milasa
citata più sotto).
4 Per un repertorio delle lettere di Filippo II ad Atene vd. Pébarthe 2006, p. 296, con note; cfr.
anche Ceccarelli 2005, p. 357, con note; Bencivenni 2010, p. 154, ntt. 17-18 e, per altri destina-
tarî, Sickinger c.s., nt. 20; vd. anche la nota seguente.
5 La qualifica di prostagma non va qui intesa in senso “tecnico” (per il quale vd. Gauthier
1993, pp. 42-43; Bencivenni 2010, pp. 140 sgg.), quanto in senso generale di ordine ufficiale
avvertito come espressione di un potere impositivo (cfr. Mari 2006, pp. 210-211). Benché si ri-
conduca alla polemica, presenta per noi un significato generale anche il passo in cui Polibio,
per rilevare la «malvagità» del piano di Apelle, tutore di Filippo V, il quale voleva «portare la
lega degli Achei ad un assetto del tutto simile a quello dei Tessali», sottolineava la negativi-
tà della condizione di questi ultimi (4,76, 2): «i Tessali sembravano… amministrarsi secon-
do le proprie leggi e distinguersi di molto dai Macedoni; invece non ne differivano in nulla,
ma la loro situazione era simile a quella dei Macedoni e facevano tutto quello che veniva or-
dinato dagli uomini del re» (nzv cno:ocv to nçootzttoµcvov to: ¸ ¸zo:ì:×o: ¸; era quanto
altrettanto polemicamente rilevava Demostene, III Phil., 33, a proposito di Filippo II, che
203
la ‘presenza’ dei re negli archivi delle poleis ellenistiche
nella sfera di controllo del re si può estendere a tutte le poleis che furono a contat-
to più o meno diretto con un’autorità regale: «libere» o «soggette» che fossero,
esse non potevano ignorare i messaggi dei re (in tutta la loro gamma di contenuti
e di obblighi) e i documenti che li rappresentavano, e ad essi adeguavano, nei
testi e nella loro articolazione, le risposte previste dalle proprie strutture ammi-
nistrative, con le specifiche pratiche di scrittura e di memoria
6
.
Sembra dunque opportuno, se pure in forma preliminare e sommaria, trac-
ciare una rassegna dei diversi modi attraverso i quali il potere reale ellenistico,
diretto o indiretto che fosse, entrava (o «intrudeva») e viveva negli archivi delle
poleis. Data la multiformità della relazione, le occasioni per l’insediamento erano
molteplici; date la pratica della «catena documentaria» generata dai provvedi-
menti amministrativi e l’articolazione degli archeia (gli uffici e [i loro] archivi) le
forme della registrazione e della diramazione lo erano altrettanto
7
. E se natural-
mente non possiamo ritenere che le poleis praticassero i sistemi e i processi rico-
struibili tutte ai medesimi livelli, nelle stesse forme e per l’intero periodo, come
per lo studio dei sistemi archivistici in generale siamo autorizzati a concludere
di una capacità comunque posseduta ed esplicabile dalle comunità organizzate

yçzçc:... Octtzìo:¸ ov ¿ç¸ tçonov noì:tcccoÐz:: su genesi e caratteri dei passi, vd. Mari
1999, pp. 646-647; sulla situazione della Tessaglia in età antigonide, vd. ora Helly 2009, pp.
345-356). Non si entra qui nella discussa questione circa il termine «basso» dell’ellenismo, se
non per indicare che, nella prospettiva dello studio delle pratiche archivistiche delle poleis, il
passaggio fra II e I secolo sembra un ragionevole discrimine, collegato con un diverso sistema
di rapporti istituzionali: vd., tra gli altri, Gauthier 2005; Vial 2005 e Coudry, Kirbihler 2010
(i quali ribadiscono il carattere «intrusivo» dell’autorità romana sin dal II secolo, ma propon-
gono come momento netto di cesura istituzionale nelle città greche la riorganizzazione sillana
dell’85/4, con conseguenze dirette sui documenti d’archivio).
6 La distinzione, tradizionale, fra città «libere» e «soggette» è da tempi recenti oggetto di
riconsiderazione, anche in conseguenza di una valutazione attenta alle forme discorsive e do-
cumentali del rapporto tra re e polis di turno: vd. p. es. Hatzopoulos 1997, 2003, spec. pp. 60
sgg.; 2003/4; Mari 2006, pp. 215 sgg. (per il regno macedonico); Ma 2003, 2004, pp. 111 sgg.
(principalmente per quello seleucidico); Müller 2003, pp. 427 sgg. (per il rapporto tra il re per-
gameno e la sua capitale); Sartre 2004 e Capdetrey 2007, spec. pp. 209 sgg. (per l’Asia Minore);
cfr. anche Bertrand 1997, pp. 182 sgg.; O’Neil 2000; Debord 2003, pp. 301-302; Fernoux 2004,
pp. 117, 165-166; Hamon 2009, pp. 371-373 e qui sotto.
7 Il principio della creazione di documenti complementari e concatenati, dell’articolazione
delle pratiche archivistiche, della molteplicità funzionale e spaziale dei luoghi di produzione
e/o di conservazione dei documenti è ormai riconosciuto nell’ambito degli studi sull’archivia-
zione nel mondo antico: per l’applicazione di esso al mondo delle poleis vd. Boffo 2003, p. 15;
Faraguna 2005, pp. 72 sgg.; 2006a, pp. 202-203; 2006b, pp. 61 sgg. Al principio in questione è
naturalmente correlato quello della gerarchia funzionale dei diversi documenti, che ha portato
a ulteriori definizioni utili per l’analisi del mondo greco: i «documenti primari / provvisori»
a fronte dei «documenti secondari / definitivi» per il V.O. A. e i «documenti a vita breve» a
fronte dei «documenti a vita lunga» per il mondo romano, intesi come rispettivamente quelli
strumentali ad una prima, parziale registrazione di dati e quelli, in genere cumulativi, desti-
nati alla conservazione nella (più) lunga durata (vd. rispettivamente Ferioli, Fiandra, Fissore
2000, p. 357 e Moreau 2000, p. 719). L’importanza del presupposto emerge con evidenza anche
dall’insieme dei contributi di questo volume.
204
a gestire dei grammata in funzione della propria più o meno lunga e più o meno
intensa vita politica.
La comunicazione del re alle poleis, nella sua manifestazione scritta, si espri-
meva in primo luogo in una serie di documenti recapitati a destinazione, qua-
li «vettori del potere»
8
. Benché non se ne possa valutare il numero sulla base
dell’attestazione epigrafica (che comunque riportava quasi esclusivamente i do-
cumenti favorevoli alla polis che la disponeva), proprio il fatto che quest’ultima
abbia incrementato negli ultimi decenni in maniera vistosa il numero delle let-
tere reali induce a confermare l’idea dell’ampiezza del fenomeno e della necessità
per le città di tenerne la gestione
9
. Con l’epistolografia si connetteva (anche per

8 La citazione da Savalli Lestrade, Cogitore 2010, Sez. II; sulle lettere come espressione del
potere reale vd. anche Muir 2009, spec. pp. 90 sgg.; Virgilio 2010, spec. pp. 108-109; 2011, pp. 32
sgg. Singolare e significativa espressione del ruolo dello scritto del re nel sistema di relazione
con la polis è il dossier epigrafico del 200 ca. riportato da Nisiro (IG XII 3, 91, lettera di Filippo V
e decreto conseguente, ll. 1-8 e 9 sgg.): la concessione dell’uso delle leggi locali avveniva attra-
verso la lettera con sigillo del re – yçzµµztz... ×z: oççzy:8z tzv ¸zo:ìca; – «portata» (çcçav,
in senso proprio) dal polites intermediario incaricato di riferire oralmente la volontà del re (ll.
7-8: cvtctzìµz: zcta: zvzyyc:ìz: cµ:v z ¸¸ocìoµ¸v cµz; c:8¸oz:; cfr. ll. 15 e 19). Era lo stesso
sfondo del rapporto tra Atene e Demetrio Poliorcete, illustrato al meglio dal decreto del 304/3
SEG 36, 163, proposto dal partigiano Stratocle di Diomea: uno dei sostenitori del re riceveva la
politeia nelle forme istituzionali consuete dopo che il re aveva mandato a conoscere per iscritto
quali erano stati i meriti della persona nei confronti proprî e della città (ll. 10 sgg.: ncç: oc o ¸z-
o:ìcc; cnc [otc:ìcv] t¸: ¸ocì¸: ×z: ta: 8¸µa:, znoç[z:vav...; cfr. IG II
2
486, ll. 11-13; 587, ll. 4-5,
con Habicht 2006, pp. 89, 425). I documenti non andavano naturalmente disgiunti dall’intensa
attività di legazione reciproca e dal connesso scambio delle «carte» che caratterizzò l’epoca e
rappresentò uno strumento fondamentale del «dialogo» tra poleis e autorità reale: significativi
sono ad esempio il caso di Xanto, che nel 243/2 inviava a Tolemeo III una legazione con gramma-
ta (l’accreditamento di dovere, il decreto civico da apodidonai) e una petizione aggiuntiva (ncç:
av ¸ç:octc tz cnoµv¸µztz cnc8a×zv), riportandone – c×oµ:ozv – l’epistole di accoglimento
(SEG 36, 1218, rispettivamente ll. 10, 18-19 e 4-5, con Bousquet 1986, pp. 27-29 e Wörrle 1988,
p. 457, nt. 155) e, dall’iniziativa opposta, di Antioco III impegnato nelle trattative con Teo, il
quale inviò alla polis una lettera di richiesta di una legazione con cui trattare e affidò ad essa di
ritorno la lettera di esenzione fiscale, da illustrare al demos (SEG 41, 1003, I, ll. 29-36); una se-
quenza più completa di documenti trasmessi indica il dossier epigrafico milesio del 262 ca. che
riproduceva una lettera con cui Tolemeo II confermava i privilegi fiscali riconosciuti dal padre,
«portata» (c×oµ:ocv) a Mileto da un legato del re, il probouleuma che ne aveva stabilito la let-
tura e la discussione nell’ekklesia, il conseguente decreto onorario del demos, che a sua volta era
stato inviato al re tramite legazione civica (Milet I 3, 139; cfr. Rhodes, Lewis 1997, pp. 378-379;
Savalli-Lestrade 2003, pp. 22-23; Bencivenni 2010, pp. 161-162). Per una sintesi efficace della
natura dei «documenti del potere» e sul loro effetto nelle città greche – per il regno seleucidico
– vd. ad esempio Capdetrey 2007, pp. 340-341, 352.
9 Dall’opus classicum RC, del 1934 (1970) – peraltro riservato alla sola epistolografia epigrafica
di diadochi ed epigoni rinvenuta in Asia e nelle isole prospicienti – alla raccolta che B. Virgilio
cura in vista della pubblicazione di quella relativa all’Asia, il numero è salito da settantacinque
a ca. quattrocentoquaranta attestazioni, dirette e indirette (Virgilio 2009, p. 401, con Virgilio
2010, pp. 118-119; 2011, p. 73; per una rassegna dell’epistolografia iscritta dei re di Macedonia,
vd. Hatzopoulos 1996, II, B, con l’analisi in I, pp. 396-405, 411-414, 416-426; per un aggior-
namento, vd. Hatzopoulos 2006, pp. 85-86, cfr. 87 sgg. e Tziafalias, Helly 2010, pp. 85 sgg.).
Un caso di lettera reale incisa nella polis vincente è ad esempio rappresentato dalla missiva di
205
la ‘presenza’ dei re negli archivi delle poleis ellenistiche
ragioni formali) la pratica delle ordinanze circolari, i diagrammata, i quali rappre-
sentarono un importante strumento d’«intrusione» della volontà del sovrano
nella vita amministrativa e nel sistema documentario delle poleis
10
.
Nella forma con cui venivano indirizzati alla singola polis, o entravano nella
sua amministrazione, gli scritti promananti dall’autorità regia passavano natu-
ralmente nella sezione delle comunicazioni in entrata dell’archivio deputato alla
conservazione degli atti ufficiali, configurandosi come nuovi ¿ç¸µzt:oµo:
11
. Là
essi venivano tenuti come documento di riferimento normativo – in conseguen-
za dei quali decretare e «in conformità» ai quali (×ztz + acc.) procedere – va-
riamente associato a quello delle norme civiche che essi ingeneravano, per tutto
il tempo che le circostanze storiche e la necessità pubblica avessero previsto
12
.

Lisimaco del 283 ca. che, in una delle controversie territoriali fra Samo e Priene, decideva a favo-
re della prima: il documento ci è pervenuto attraverso l’epigrafia della città insulare (IG XII 6.1,
155) e non attraverso l’«archivio epigrafico» del tempio di Atena Poliade a Priene (che la dovette
peraltro inserire in quello riposto, facendone gli opportuni riferimenti/estratti nei documenti
relativi all’applicazione della decisione arbitrale; diverse lettere regie conservate dai Prienesi
costituivano documento di riferimento per l’arbitrato rodio del 196-192, Magnetto 2008, p. 43,
l. 171, con pp. 110, 177 e 180 e sotto); sulle motivazioni delle poleis per l’iscrizione delle missive
regali, vd. Bencivenni 2010, spec. pp. 161 sgg. Vd. anche la nota seguente.
10 Su natura, storia, diffusione del diagramma reale come istituto giuridico, ancora una volta
da ricondurre a Filippo II, si veda l’eccellente sintesi di Bencivenni 2003, pp. 18-32 e 90-93, 115-
129, dove si considera anche il rapporto con la documentazione legislativa cittadina; vd. anche
Mari 2006, pp. 211 sgg.; Maffi 2006, p. 310; Cassayre 2010, pp. 48 sgg.
11 Nel significato definito da Ph. Gauthier di documenti «donnant lieu à enregistrement»
(BE 1995, 525, p. 526). Il medesimo messaggio poteva costituire naturalmente sostanza per la
composizione da parte della cancelleria reale di una catena documentaria destinata a circui-
to misto, più o meno coeva: per un’attestazione concreta, vd. la versione epigrafica del dossier
relativo all’attribuzione di dorea ad Aristodicide di Asso, nella quale la lettera figurava insieme
con (parte del)la sequenza di trasmissione dell’ordine ai funzionari interessati (I.Ilion 33 con
Bencivenni 2004 e qui sotto); per l’insieme dei documenti reali connessi con una disposizione
del re che riguardava un personaggio di una polis ma che prevedeva un circuito più ampio, reale
e poleico, vd. RC 66, ll. 16-17, la lettera del 135 con cui Attalo III comunicava a Cizico gli onori da
lui attribuiti al suo cittadino Ateneo accludendo ×z: tz ìo:nz nçootzyµztz ×z: ç:ìzvÐçanz
tz yçzçcvtz c縵av ncç: toctoc (essa è pervenuta in una sequenza epigrafica della capitale
del regno Pergamo, OGIS 331, composta del decreto cittadino di recezione di quanto richiesto
dall’ultima lettera iscritta, di una lettera di Attalo II del 142 ad Ateneo stesso, della lettera di
Attalo III a Cizico, della lettera di quest’ultimo re a Pergamo, di tre giorni precedente, che comu-
nicava la decisione di rendere Zeus Sabazio synnaos di Atena Niceforo e Ateneo suo sacerdote,
ordinando che le lettere-prostagmata fossero «riportate (çcçcoÐz:) tra le leggi sacre» della polis,
ll. 59-60; vd. anche sotto).
12 Il volere del re passava, nella città, attraverso la deliberazione del demos: si vedano, ad
esempio, l’ordine di Filippo V nella sua prima lettera a Larisa del 217, ×ç:va ¦¸ç:ozoÐz: cµz;
ona;... (Syll.
3
543, l. 6; cfr. l. 14), oppure la lettera con cui Eumene I nel 263-241 esprime la vo-
lontà che il demos pergameno onori i cinque strateghi usciti di carica e scrive ad esso ona;
cv ta: µctzçc ¿çova: ¸ocìccozµcvo: t:µ¸o¸tc zctoc;... (I.Pergamon 18 (OGIS 267), ll. 18-
19; la lettera è alle ll. 1-20; il decreto alle ll. 21-39). Quanto al rimando congiunto alle norme
reali e civiche cui rifarsi, tra i numerosi esempi si ricorderanno: il decreto di Ereso RO 83, B,
ll. 16-19 (nel 332, i tiranni sono processati [×zt]z tzv 8:zyçzçzv t[a ¸]zo:ìca; Aìcçzv8ça
206
Esplicito, benché riferito a località retta da un governatore reale, è il caso di Egina,
che nel 159-144 onorava l’epistates pergameno Cleone per l’equanimità con cui
aveva svolto la sua attività giudiziaria: quando necessario egli aveva rimandato
alle disposizioni legislative prese dai re, da un lato contenute nelle «ordinanze
(reali) registrate nell’archivio cittadino» di pertinenza, dall’altro lato assorbi-
te nelle leggi civiche (cn: tz... vcvoµoÐct¸µcvz ¸µ:v cno ta [v ¸z]o:ìcav ×ztz
tc tz c:[; to 8¸µ]oo:ov ×c[¿]縵zt:oµcvz n[çoo]tzyµztz ×z: toc; voµoc;)
13
.

×z: to:; voµo:;, ovvero in conformità con le procedure indicate da Alessandro e secondo le
leggi della città, cfr. l § VI, ll. 13-15 e 23-25); il decreto di Colofone SEG 48, 1404, ll. 21-24 (III sec.,
nel periodo in cui la città era sotto controllo di un sovrano), un regolamento del contenzioso
fra politai e appaltatori delle tasse il quale prevedeva che le citazioni si effettuassero ×ztz tov
voµov e i processi ×ztz to 8:zyçzµµz toc ¸zo:ìca; (il documento peraltro probabilmente
riguardava l’appalto delle tasse dovute al re: vd. Étienne, Migeotte 1998, p. 150 (= Migeotte
2010, pp. 382-383); Migeotte 2004, p. 224; Chandezon 2004, p. 142 e sotto); I.Iasos 82 (Tit.Cal.,
Test. XVI; SEG 44, 696), ll. 45-46 (nel decreto con cui Calimna, nell’orbita dei Lagidi, nel 250-
225 ringraziava i giudici iasî per aver operato ×ztz tc to 8:zyçzµ[µz toc ] ¸zo:ìca; ×z: toc;
voµoc;; cfr. Cassayre 2010, p. 113, con Gauthier, BE, 1995, 449; Dössel 2003, p. 254; Bencivenni
2008, p. 189, nt. 9; Walser 2008, p. 271, nt. 241; in generale, per le forme d’intervento dei re
ellenistici nelle crisi giudiziarie delle poleis e per le scritture che lo esprimevano, vd. Gauthier
1994, pp. 166 sgg. = Gauthier 2011, pp. 114 sgg., circa l’cn:otoìz di Antigono Dosone a Caristo
SEG 44, 710); IG XII 4, 1, 152, ll. 14-18 (il giuramento civico di Coi e Calimni uniti in homopoliteia,
nel quale l’impegno è verso la democrazia vigente, l’accordo ripristinato ×z: to:; voµo:; to:;
cy Ka: nztç:o:; cnzç¿oco: ×z: to:; 8oyµzo: tz; c××ì¸o:z; ×z: tz:; 8:zyçzçz:; tz:; cncç
tz; oµonoì:tc:z;, secondo una sequenza che a ragione Bencivenni 2008, pp. 199, 201 sgg.
propone di ricondurre alla compresenza della normativa locale e di documentazione ufficiale
lagide relativa all’accordo); Le Guen, Associations, n. 47, III B, ll. 7-9, Aneziri, Vereine, pp. 387-391,
D12 (nell’indicazione del re Eumene II, il tribunale congiunto di Teo e dei Technitai dionisiaci
nel II sec. usava giurare di operare [×ztz toc;] voµoc; ×z: tz ; cn:otoìz ; t[aµ ¸zo:ìcay ×z:
tz ] ¦¸ç:oµztz toc 8¸µoc; sull’ingerenza del re nell’attività istituzionale della città vd. Le Guen,
Associations, pp. 248 sgg. e Cassayre 2010, pp. 66-67; l’idea di Aneziri, Vereine, p. 100, nt. 450 che
«die Reihenfolge entspricht hier dem Wert der aufgezählten Begriffe» non è seguita dall’ap-
prezzamento dell’intrusione del volere reale nei dispositivi decisionali civici). I riferimenti alla
sequenza lettera/e del re-decreto/i fatti nel dossier di Larisa (217-215), sia dalla polis (l. 47, cfr. ll.
17-18 e 52) sia dal re (ll. 26-27), nella forma attengono all’ordine procedurale di decisione. Anche
a questo sistema di relazione si rifaceva il detto attribuito ad Antioco III secondo cui le poleis
non dovevano tener conto dei suoi scritti quando questi ordinavano qualcosa «contro i [loro]
nomoi» (zv t: yçz¦¸ nzçz toc; voµoc; ×cìccav ycvcoÐz:, Plut. Mor. 183 F, su cui vd. Virgilio
2011, pp. 28-29). Per un tentativo di ricostruzione della posizione concreta delle ordinanze reali
negli archivi cittadini si rimanda al volume in preparazione.
13 IG IV
2
2, 749, ll. 14-15 (ancora citato come OGIS 329; cfr. SEG 45, 233 e Virgilio 2011, p. 51, nt.
110). L’interrogativo di Savalli-Lestrade 1996, p. 156, nt. 25 circa la natura dei nomoi richiama-
ti, suscitato dalla formulazione complessiva del passo e dalla condizione dell’isola di possesso
personale degli Attalidi (dal 209), sembra risolto comunque dal confronto con i nessi espliciti
attestati nei documenti citati nella nota precedente: anche se pesantemente condizionati dal
controllo o dall’imposizione reale, i nomoi si configuravano come il versante civico del com-
plesso giuridico di riferimento in Egina (fondamentale a riguardo è Gauthier 1993, pp. 44
sg., 48; vd. anche Savalli-Lestrade 2001, p. 90 e K. Hallof, IG, ad loc.). La polis del resto doveva
anche incamerare altri documenti reali, dal momento che, nelle sue condizioni di controllata,
doveva sottoporre al re i decreti che riguardavano i suoi agenti, per la convalida: se per Egina si
conserva solo il dispositivo del decreto al riguardo (ll. 51-53), per la pisidica Olbasa si conserva
207
la ‘presenza’ dei re negli archivi delle poleis ellenistiche
Ad entrambe le categorie, oltre che all’insieme dei documenti contabili connessi,
si rifacevano evidentemente i «documenti» (cnoµv¸µztz) esibiti dagli amba-
sciatori di Eraclea al Latmo incaricati dopo il 196 di richiedere ad Antioco III la
conferma di un articolato insieme di privilegi fiscali concessi «dai re» preceden-
ti
14
. Né è il caso di insistere sull’insieme dei chrematismoi contenuti negli archivi
della città caria di Milasa (da gran tempo grecizzata), ricorrentemente impegnata
con i sovrani di tre dinastie e i loro funzionarî a sostenere le proprie competenze
amministrative e fiscali sul centro religioso di Labraunda e perciò sollecita nel
conservare le lettere (redatte tra il 280 ca. e il dicembre 219) utili ad accompa-
gnare la documentazione amministrativa interna e a suffragare la legittimità dei
proprî argomenti
15
. E particolarmente indicativa (anche della tipologia dei docu-
menti di garanzia che le poleis ellenistiche archiviavano) era la notizia che, dopo
il 305, un fiduciario di Tolemeo I riportava in una lettera a Iaso: egli era stato rag-
giunto da ambasciatori della città che «recavano le vostre petizioni accolte da noi
nelle quali era (riconosciuto) che la città era libera, autonoma e alleata» (çcçovtc;
tz nzçcµav zç:aµztz cv o[:;] ¸v t¸v noì:v [cìccÐcçzv ×z: ] zctovoµov c:vz:
×z: cv ocµµz¿:z:)
16
.
Che del resto il rapporto tra l’autorità regale e l’amministrazione di una po-
lis trovasse uno degli aspetti qualificanti nella corretta gestione dei documenti
inviati e ingenerati appare dal regolamento del piccolo centro cario di Filippi-

di seguito a uno dei due decreti interessati la lettera di Attalo II di convalida (Virgilio, LDP
2
, n. 34,
con SEG 47, 1759 e Savalli-Lestrade 2001, p. 89).
14 SEG 37, 859, C, ll. 12-13; il termine hypomnemata può richiamare sia documenti «origina-
li» sia memoranda confezionati su e con essi per la contingenza (Montanari 1998, 813); nel
contesto, sembra da preferire la prima opzione, già proposta, con cautela, da Wörrle 1988,
p. 457, nt. 155 («vielleicht eher Akten aus dem städtischen Archiv», nella traduzione i «dos-
siers» ripresi da Savalli-Lestrade 2003, pp. 32-33, nt. 70 e Ma 2004, pp. 153, 391); per la se-
conda, cfr. Chankowski (A. S.) 2009, p. 102: «mémoirs fondés sans doute sur l’analyse de
documents d’archives». Sulle vicende storiche di Eraclea, che non ebbe forse mai prima un
controllo seleucide, vd. Wörrle 1988, pp. 433 sgg.; Ma 2004, pp. 53, 59, 61, 65, 89, 149, 263, nt.
63; Chankowski (A. S.) 2009, pp. 101-102; sulla complessa situazione amministrativa del centro
sotto il controllo seleucide e sulla documentazione correlata vd. sotto.
15 Per il dossier epigrafico, che menziona o riporta le lettere/ i grammata in possesso della città
inviati dal funzionario Sofrone, di Tolemeo figlio di Tolemeo II, del dinasta Olimpico (quattro
epistole a Milasa e una a Seleuco II, inviata per conoscenza alla polis), oltre che due lettere di
Seleuco II (a Olimpico) e due di Filippo V (a Milasa e a Olimpico) e il giuramento di quest’ulti-
mo a favore della città, vd. Virgilio, LDP
2
, nn. 20-25, con le pp. 170-184 (cfr. Virgilio 2001); per
un’analisi accurata della documentazione prodotta dall’intera vicenda vd. Bencivenni 2003, pp.
247-298, n. 9; per una recente illustrazione dei manufatti iscritti, indispensabile per la com-
prensione delle vicende dell’archivio, vd. Isager 2011, pp. 206 sgg. e sotto, con nt. 73.
16 I.Iasos 3, ll. 2-3. Appare chiaro il riferimento all’aspetto concreto del «portare» la documen-
tazione utile (per il çcçc:v, vd. sopra, nt. 8). In questo caso si trattava degli zç:aµztz, le doman-
de scritte di concessione dello statuto indicato rivolte qualche anno prima a Tolemeo, le quali
erano state accolte ed erano divenute di conseguenza documenti di prova (così giustamente
Savalli-Lestrade 2003, pp. 32-33, nt. 70). Sulle vicende di Iaso sotto la signoria lagide, vd. da
ultimo Vacante 2008, pp. 524 sgg.; vd. anche sotto.
208
Euromo, conseguente all’“alleanza” stretta con Antioco III nell’agosto-settembre
del 197
17
. «Tutto quel che concerne i documenti ufficiali» (tz ×ztz toc; ¿ç¸µz-
t:oµoc;) diventava pertinenza della nuova, o rinnovata, magistratura principale
dei prostatai del demos (ll. 10-11), mentre la redazione e la spedizione delle lettere
ufficiali (yçzµµztz) che dovevano transitare formalmente dall’ufficio loro o da
quello dell’altra nuova arche dei kosmoi incaricati della sicurezza dello stato (8:z
tav zç¿c:av toctav) venivano sottoposte al controllo reciproco (ll. 12-15)
18
.
Negli archivi poleici gli effetti del rapporto con i re si manifestavano oltre che
con l’entrata e la conservazione dei messaggi esterni e della risposta diretta ad
essi anche con la presenza delle più o meno numerose e articolate catene docu-
mentarie generate dai diversi provvedimenti e statuti giuridici, economici, fisca-
li imposti o negoziati e dalle loro conseguenze amministrative.
Ormai saldamente attestata (e non solo per i periodi e per le località di più di-
retta sottoposizione ai sovrani) è la possibilità della compresenza nella polis degli
obblighi fiscali «interni» verso il tesoro civico, il politikon, e di altri verso quello
del re, il basilikon, nelle diverse categorie e forme richieste dalle circostanze
19
. Vie-

17 Cfr. Ma 2004, pp. 385-387, n. 30 (come «decreto costituzionale»; la traduzione omette la
precisazione amministrativa menzionata nel testo, che figurava, come «by these magistrates»
in Ma 2002, p. 340); vd. anche, da altra prospettiva, Savalli-Lestrade 2010b, pp. 138-140, con il
testo alle pp. 147-148 e con la corretta lettura dell’espressione: «par l’intermédiaire de ces ma-
gistrats» (p. 148), risalente a Gauthier, BE, 1995, 525, p. 526. Il condizionamento da parte del
re appare dal tenore del documento, benché la polis, pur sempre libera, avesse tentato qualche
bilanciamento (vd. Ma 2004, pp. 121-122; Dmitriev 2005, pp. 210-211; Capdetrey 2007, pp. 215,
300-301, 378-379, 435; Fabiani 2010, p. 475; più critica appare Savalli-Lestrade 2010b, p. 140,
che indaga soprattutto l’origine della magistratura «cretese» nella città caria); merita in ogni
caso attenzione il rilievo che Virgilio 2010, pp. 104-105 (cfr. Virgilio 2011, pp. 27-28) pone
sull’attenzione di Antioco III per le relazioni epistolari con le città. L’alleanza (Ma 2004, pp.
384-385, n. 29) era datata con l’anno di regno e il mese macedone (ll. 1-2; per il significato delle
date reali nei documenti civici vd. sotto).
18 Le lettere dovevano essere redatte alla presenza dei due collegi (ll. 13-14) e non potevano
essere inviate all’insaputa l’uno dell’altro (l. 15): giustamente Dmitriev 2005, p, 294 rileva insie-
me l’interesse del re alla soluzione amministrativa adottata e il controllo pur sempre esercitato
dalla città sul proprio funzionamento; sulla medesima linea si pone Savalli-Lestrade 2010b, p.
139, la quale peraltro insiste sulle dinamiche politiche interne della polis e sul tentativo di porre
fine all’uso di lettere segrete destinate ai sovrani operanti nella regione (il testo impone tuttavia
l’obbligo solo per le lettere che dovevano «passare» per gli organi interessati, non per tutte le
lettere); sulla vicenda, vd. anche Virgilio 2011, p. 39, con nt. 74. Sulla carica dei prostatai nelle
città carie e sul loro rapporto con l’archiviazione, cfr. Fabiani 2010, pp. 472-476 e sotto, con nt.
50 (per il rapporto dell’z ç¿c: ov to nçootzt:×o v iaseo di SEG 51, 1506, ll. 8-9 con la conservazio-
ne dei documenti di pertinenza dei prostatai, in un contesto topografico e funzionale peraltro
da precisare, vd. Fabiani 2001, pp. 95 sgg.; Haensch 2003, p. 192; Fabiani 2010, p. 475, con C.
Brixhe, BE, 2002, 388). Sul senso dell’espressione 8:z ta v z ç¿c: av, come riferita «auf eine aktive
Mitwirkung der Behörde», vd. anche il contributo di K. Harter-Uibopuu in questo volume.
19 Per la distinzione tra le due casse, vd. ad esempio I.Mylasa 201 (III sec.), dove si precisava
che i locatarî dei diversi tipi di terreno dovevano pagare [×z: tz ] nçoon:ntovtz c× toc ¸z-
o:ì:×oc ¸ [noì:]t:×oc (ll. 8-9; cfr. l. 11; un decreto dello stesso periodo indicava che la polis
relativamente alle tasse sulla persona poteva concedere l’ateleia solo av ¸ noì:; ×cç:z cot:v,
209
la ‘presenza’ dei re negli archivi delle poleis ellenistiche
ne facile immaginare la necessità per la polis di tenere accurata registrazione di
quanto era dovuto alla cassa reale, ai fini della trasmissione del relativo rendicon-
to annuale ai funzionari del re competenti e a testimonianza della propria lealtà
contributiva, oltre che, nel caso opportuno, dell’attestazione di una situazione
gravosa da alleviare o di una favorevole da confermare da parte del sovrano o fun-
zionario di turno, oppure anche solo della documentazione dei limiti topografici
delle aree considerate imponibili dalle rispettive amministrazioni (ed è facile
immaginare che l’interesse alla corretta tenuta delle scritture era reciproco)
20
.
Alle carte del sistema amministrativo delle città, la dioikesis, si erano aggiunte
nuove categorie documentali, la cui «regolarità» doveva essere assai più ampia
di quanto lascino intravvedere le fonti o considerino gli studiosi che si sono oc-
cupati dei vari aspetti e dei vari momenti della relazione fiscale tra poleis e so-
vrani. Significativo della molteplicità della documentazione necessaria per un

I.Mylasa 104, ll. 8-9; sul tipo di tassazione, imposizioni regolari od occasionali destinate o all’u-
na o all’altra cassa, vd. Gauthier 1991); gli Iasî di Caria, nel 305/4 impegnati nelle già ricordate
trattative con Tolemeo I, facevano dichiarare ai loro ambasciatori – presumibilmente con pez-
ze d’appoggio – che, se da un lato essi pagavano la syntaxis per la propria difesa al re, dall’altro
tav 8c ì:µcvav ×z: tav ìo:nav nçooo8av... ×cç:oc; c:vz: (I.Iasos 3, ll. 5-6, cfr. 13-14, 24-25; vd.
Migeotte 2005a, pp. 197-198, e, per la medesima situazione lungo il III secolo, I.Iasos 37, 38, 45,
54; SEG 57, 1069, 1070, 1084). Per una rassegna di casi di pagamento di tributi varî ai re delle di-
verse dinastie da parte delle poleis d’Asia Minore, vd. Migeotte 2004, pp. 214 sgg. (per il decreto
milaseo citato, l’unico fra quelli esaminati che non appartiene a documento di esenzione, vd.
p. 215); vd. anche (per il regno seleucidico) Chandezon 2004; Martinez-Sève 2004; Capdetrey
2007, pp. 398 sgg. (con la ricognizione delle attestazioni letterarie ed epigrafiche, pp. 398-407);
Schuler 2007, pp. 384-401 (per l’Asia Minore, con la conclusione della «Invasion des königli-
chen Fiskus in die öffentlichen Finanzen der Poleis», p. 401, cfr. p. 399). Vd. anche quanto segue.
20 Sulle conseguenze documentali della situazione, cfr. Martinez-Sève 2004, p. 94 (per il re-
gno seleucidico): «la cité devait tenir une comptabilité précise et détaillée des prélèvements
effectués chez elle pour pouvoir rendre des comptes à l’administration royale» e già Corsaro
1985, quando rilevava il rapporto fra gli obblighi fiscali delle poleis nei confronti dei sovrani e le
pratiche di archiviazione (p. 92). Si dà qui per acquisito (con Chandezon 2004, pp. 140-141) che
la riscossione delle tasse dovute al basilikon fosse di competenza della polis e non dei funzionarî
reali responsabili per l’area, per quanto evidentemente essi fossero implicati nell’operazione di
ricevimento delle quote e dei loro documenti; era la città che si incaricava di conferire all’am-
ministrazione reale il dovuto: cfr., per l’imposta collettiva, Étienne, Migeotte 1998, p. 155
(= Migeotte 2010, p. 388); Ma 2004, p. 97; Migeotte 2004, pp. 221 sgg.; 2005a, p. 196, nt. 22 (for-
se troppo cauto sul ritmo annuale di raccolta), e, per la tendenza tolemaica nei territorî d’oltre-
mare «to act through the cities», Bagnall 1976, p. 242 (in parziale contraddizione con p. 110, a
proposito della Licia, come giustamente rilevato da Wörrle 2010, p. 390, nt. 154; ciò non toglie
la presenza di istituti reali anche all’interno delle poleis, come attestano il cv Aì:×zçvzooa:
yz,oçcìzç di PCZ 59036, l. 4, del 257, o i ìoycct¸ç:z delle città licie indicati nel prostagma del
277/6 o 239/8 Wörrle 2010, p. 361, l. 12, con pp. 376 sgg., «Finanzkasse»). Anche per l’ambito
attalide, se la vicenda del contenzioso tra la città di Metropolis di Ionia e gli appaltatori dei
dazî sul porto del Caistro può essere indicativa (ed è intesa correttamente), la riscossione di
versamenti per il re avveniva tramite il sistema civico (SEG 53, 1312 B, del 144/3, ll. 18 sgg., con
Dreyer, in I.Metropolis, pp. 52 sgg., che pensa ad appaltatori locali, la cui attività «wurde von
einem städtischen Magistraten täglich begleitet und kontrolliert», e Jones (C. P.) 2004, p. 477,
con un meno convincente «probably royal»; vd. anche sotto, nt. 23).
210
versamento al re può essere quanto emerge dai lacerti di un documento di esen-
zione per una polis a noi sconosciuta fra III e II secolo, esonerata per sette anni dal
pagamento al basilikon dei phoroi, e richiesta di provvedere a contribuire dall’ot-
tavo una somma derivante «da tutte le rendite prodotte ogni anno» ([c×] nzoav
tav y:yvoµcvav nçooo8av nz[çc×zotov] cv:zctov): ogni anno produceva nella
città registrazioni specifiche delle singole prosodoi, sulle quali operava l’ammini-
strazione civica per la fiscalità interna e sulle quali si computavano le quote da
riversare al titolo richiesto della cassa reale e, di conseguenza, nella scrittura cu-
mulativa ad essa riferita tenuta nella sezione dei documenti fiscali della città, alla
voce tributaria in oggetto (il tutto da consegnare in duplicato al funzionario reale
responsabile, con eventuali allegati, insieme alla somma di denaro)
21
. Non sor-
prende che a Eritre, nel III secolo, fossero distinte le categorie di versamento inti-
tolate «alla difesa della città, alla rimanente amministrazione e agli utili per il re»
(c:; tc t¸v çcìz׸v t¸; noìca; ×z: t¸v zìì¸v 8:o:׸o:v ×z: c:; tz ta: ¸zo:ìc:
ocµçcçovtz), dove l’ultima espressione cumulativa può rappresentare, in paral-
lelo a quelle tradizionali della polis, il titolo amministrativo generale che nella
città ionica era riferito alla gestione e registrazione complessiva di quanto Eritre
doveva pagare al re sotto varie voci
22
.
Gravata da un’imposizione fiscale e finanziaria estremamente articolata su
voci tradizionali e nuove, la città si trovava dunque a dover fare i conti con li-
nee di documentazione e di registrazione aggiuntive ed “estranee”, che entrava-
no negli ambiti d’archivio riservati ai vari tipi di imposte e tasse con le proprie
catene documentarie (intitolate al basilikon invece che al politikon), quando non
si integravano con le serie di informazioni raccolte dalla polis ai fini fiscali o di
contabilità proprî (con doppia intitolazione, e con tutte le trascrizioni richieste
dal passaggio tra l’una e l’altra categoria)
23
.

21 Ma 2004, pp. 403-404, n. 36, ll. 14-18, per una località non identificata (cfr. ivi, p. 97 e Capde-
trey 2007, pp. 200, 406, 421; a motivo dell’esiguità della somma, Migeotte 2004, p. 222 ritiene
improbabile che si trattasse dell’imposta collettiva). La tipologia della registrazione finale di
trasmissione poteva essere dettata dalle esigenze e dalle forme dell’amministrazione reale rice-
vente.
22 I.Erythrai 28, ll. 29-31 (ca. 270), con la cauta considerazione ad locum per la terza voce «Dies
könnte eine Art von Steuer gewesen sein» (p. 115); per il riferimento all’insieme dei contri-
buti richiesti cfr. Bielman 1994, p. 85, con nt. 23 (la ripresa da Rostovzev 1966, p. 552 merita
attenzione, se non per la traduzione «alcuni pagamenti graditi al re, di cui promuovevano gli
interessi», per la corretta conclusione che «tz o. è, naturalmente, un termine tecnico», nt. 551)
e I.Erythrai 31, la lettera con cui circa un decennio dopo Antioco I o II concedeva che gli Eritrei
zçoçoìoy¸toc; c:vz:... tav tc zììav znzvtav ×z: tav c:; tz lzìzt:×z ocvzyoµcvav (RC 15,
ll. 26-28, cfr. Capdetrey 2007, p. 404, con Schuler 2007, p. 390, «ein… Blündel verschiedener
Abgabe»). Sulla çcìz׸ t¸; noìca; come categoria speciale di documentazione di molte città
ellenistiche, vd. Boffo 2011b. Ai fondi per la phylake potevano contribuire, oltre che cittadini
benefattori, come nel caso di Eritre, anche dinasti (per il caso di Filetero, e per la registrazione
al riguardo, vd. qui sotto).
23 Per l’immagine dell’«estraneità» cfr. Ma 2004, p. 114 (a proposito dell’«intrusione» nelle
poleis delle tasse a beneficio dei re, le quali generavano una «fiscalité parallèle à l’intérieur de
211
la ‘presenza’ dei re negli archivi delle poleis ellenistiche
L’obbligo della registrazione valeva naturalmente anche per l’opposto all’im-
pegno fiscale, l’esenzione concessa dal re, per periodi più o meno lunghi (compu-
tabili in annualità), su categorie di contributi o persone amministrativamente
pertinenti alla città
24
. Se per il primo caso l’impegno della polis poteva limitarsi
alla registrazione dell’esonero per la o le annualità del caso nelle diverse catego-

la cité, mais sur laquelle elle n’avait aucune autorité et qui bénéficiait à un corps qui lui était
étranger»). Quanto all’articolazione della fiscalità regale nelle poleis – che fosse o meno un’avo-
cazione di tributi pre-esistenti – vd. ad esempio la casistica di Eraclea al Latmo (sottoposta ai
Lagidi, poi a Filippo V e ad Antioco III), sui terreni, prodotti, animali, transiti, attività portuale,
importazioni (SEG 37, 859, del 196-193, B II, ll. 15-16; III, ll. 2-9; cfr. Wörrle 1988, pp. 458 sgg.;
Ma 2004, pp. 98, 125, 149, 153, 175, 245, 263, nt. 63, 276, nt. 21, 387-394, n. 31; Migeotte 2004,
pp. 216-219), oppure quella di Telmesso di Licia, sotto controllo lagide dal 279 (almeno, cfr. SEG
28, 1244), su alberi da frutto e su voci non specificate, su altri prodotti del suolo, sul cereale, sul
pascolo (OGIS 55, ll. 13-21, con Bagnall 1976, pp. 89-102; Wörrle 1978, 1979; Domingo Gygax
2001, pp. 143-150, 167 sgg., 183 sgg.; Chandezon 2003, pp. 257-258; Migeotte 2003, pp. 306-
308; 2005a, p. 197 con nt. 30; il titolare della città come dorea, Tolemeo figlio di Lisimaco, nel
240 aveva provveduto ad alcune esenzioni, ma la polis doveva pur sempre al re una decima dei
prodotti agricoli), della già ricordata Metropolis di Ionia (città sotto controllo attalide), sui tran-
siti del porto del Caistro fino all’esenzione concessa da un sovrano (SEG 53, 1312, B, ll. 18 sgg.,
con Dreyer, in I.Metropolis, pp. 52 sgg.; Jones (C. P.) 2004, p. 477; Virgilio 2007, pp. 72-73; sulla
restante fiscalità, cfr. Dreyer, pp. 50, 54, nt. 211) e, nella Macedonia antigonide, sulle transazioni
commerciali legate alle kteseis dei singoli nelle città (Hatzopoulos 1996, II, n. 20, ll. 24 sgg.,
con BE, 2007, 373, p. 700) e in generale sugli oikoi (le leitourgiai menzionate in Hatzopoulos
1996, II, n. 39, l. 12 e sotto, nt. 26). Per una fonte di reddito particolare, collegata all’iniziativa
dei re specialmente nelle città di più stretto controllo, Sardi fornisce l’esempio della presen-
za di ergasteria di costruzione e proprietà seleucidi, sui quali il basilikon esigeva l’affitto (SEG
39, 1285, ll. 8-10, c:ncç ×z: z: zììz: noìc:; µ¸ nçzooovtz:; la formulazione della lettera reale
lascia intendere che la presenza di beni del re in locazione alle città in questione non era un
caso eccezionale; vd. Gauthier 1989, pp. 105 sgg.; Ma 2004, pp. 49, 97, 283, nt. 91). Le distinzio-
ni delle linee documentali venivano probabilmente meno nel caso in cui venissero dichiarati
imponibili dei beni già soggetti al fisco cittadino («ce genre de situation était peut-être plus
courant que les sources ne le laissent entendre», secondo Migeotte 2004, p. 223, a proposito di
t¸; nçoocn:¸ì¸Ðc:o¸; c:×oot¸; cn: t¸v noì:t:׸v, imposta, per breve tempo, da Antioco III
a Sardi nel 214/3, SEG 39, 1283, ll. 5-6, con Gauthier 1989, pp. 33 sgg.; Domingo Gygax 2001, p.
198; Ma 2004, pp. 48-49, 98; Aperghis 2004, p. 165; contrarî all’idea di una doppia tassazione
sulla stessa fonte di reddito sono invece Chandezon 2003, p. 330; 2004, p. 140; Martinez-Sève
2004, pp. 94-95). Altre forme di integrazione e di circolazione interna di documenti contabili
si verificavano quando la città si vedeva restituito per certi scopi l’importo di tasse precedente-
mente devolute al re (ad esempio per l’acquisto di olio per il ginnasio: cfr. SEG 39, 1285, ll. 3-6,
con Capdetrey 2007, pp. 424-425, a Sardi, a costituire un fondo speciale (cno×c:µcvov); SEG 37,
859, A, ll. 10-11, con Gauthier, BE, 1989, 277, p. 404, a Eraclea al Latmo, il limen civico, cfr. Wörrle
1988, p. 462), oppure quando si trovava ad agire come «agente contabile» del basilikon (come
appare dal dispositivo di provvigione per i soldati di guarnigione di Palaimagnesia neo-politai
di Smirna, per i quali il demos doveva nçovo¸oz:... ona; zcto:; 8:8atz: c× ¸zo:ì:×oc tz tc
µct縵ztz ×z: tz o¦av:z tzììz ooz c:aÐc: c× ¸zo:ì:×oc 8:8ooÐz: zcto:;, I.Smyrna 573, III,
ll. 106-107, con Bertrand 2005, pp. 43-45, o, come sembra ipotizzabile per il pagamento delle
guarnigioni reali in loco, attraverso una quota di quanto dovuto al sovrano, Couvenhes 2004,
p. 93, nt. 86).
24 Le annualità erano quelle del computo amministrativo centrale, cui il calendario cittadino
si sarà dovuto adeguare: vd. anche quanto segue.
212
rie di documento interessate dai momenti e dalle fasi di raccolta, per il secondo
la cura delle scritture doveva farsi più capillare, comprendendo non solo liste di
nomi aggiornate e distribuite ai vari “uffici” interessati, ma anche cancellazioni
nelle catene documentarie che li riguardavano. Benché inserita in un contesto
organizzativo particolare, indicativa di una situazione documentale complessa
è la «lettera-proclamazione» con cui Antigono Dosone nell’estate del 222 comu-
nicava a Berea che aveva concesso l’ztcìc:z noì:t:×av ìc:toc [ç]y:av, l’esenzio-
ne dalle prestazioni personali, ai sessanta comandanti delle truppe cittadine che
avevano combattuto con lui nel Peloponneso
25
. La lista di nomi allegata, oltre che
essere fissata sulla pietra con il messaggio del re, era entrata nel circuito delle
registrazioni civiche (da quella generale degli ateleis a quelle relative alle diverse
liturgie) e delle sue relazioni con l’archivio del distretto militare regionale di Bot-
tia cui la città apparteneva e che riceveva per conoscenza
26
.
Una situazione articolata di documentazione indotta – nel positivo di un
incremento delle prosodoi e nel negativo della necessità di rendicontare ad altri
– produceva anche l’intervento del re sull’estensione del territorio di una polis
e sulla sua amministrazione economica e fiscale, mediato dalla concessione di
terreno extra-poleico a un beneficiario e dalla contestuale «attribuzione» (nço-
oçcçcoÐz:/nçoooç:,c:v) dell’area alla città
27
. Una parte almeno dei tributi che

25 I.Beroia 4, ll. 5-8 (la data in Tziafalias, Helly 2010, p. 108). La citazione è da Hatzopoulos
2001b, p. 51, nt. 31; per il provvedimento vd. anche Hatzopoulos 1996, I, pp. 438-439, 453-454 e,
per il documento in questione, Hatzopoulos 2001a, p. 121; Faraguna 2006c, p. 125; Mari 2006,
p. 219. Per il rapporto fra la monarchia di Macedonia e le città al suo interno, storiche e inglobate
nel corso del tempo, considerato precisamente nella prospettiva di «forma e contenuto dei do-
cumenti ufficiali» a partire dal regno di Filippo II, vd. Hatzopoulos 1996, 1997, 2003, 2003/4,
2006 con Mari 1999, 2006: la conclusione che i centri ebbero struttura e dignità poleica carat-
terizza diversamente l’«intrusione» da parte del sovrano, ma naturalmente non l’elimina (cfr.
Hatzopoulos 1996, I, p. 439: benché le liturgie in questione «are due within a civic framework,
the ultimate beneficiary is the central authority»). Vd. anche nt. seguente.
26 Il re aveva inviato messaggio e lista anche ai responsabili del distretto (ll. 8-9); il medesimo
procedere si ritrova l’anno seguente, quando il re scrive al koinon dei Tripolitai e a un personag-
gio identificabile nello stratego di esso, per informare dell’esenzione concessa a tre hetairoi e
ad almeno cinque hegemones di una delle città membro, i quali avevano combattuto a Sellasia
(Hatzopoulos 2006, p. 48; Tziafalias, Helly 2010, pp. 104 sgg., n. IV). Una situazione riferita
a un solo personaggio, cittadino di Azoros, attesta un’altra lettera del re allo stratego (proba-
bilmente) e a un imprecisabile «intermediario», mediante la quale si tutelano i diritti di un
minorenne rimasto orfano di padre e si prescrive che a lui z: 8açcz:... µcvctaozv z; nçotcçov
c:¿cv nzç ¸µav... ×z: o o:×o; ztcì¸; cota ca; zv c:; ¸ì:×:zv cìи (Tziafalias, Helly 2010, pp.
94 sgg., n. III, marzo 221, ll. 24-28; sul caso vd. anche sotto).
27 Per una discussione sui principî giuridici e sui caratteri del provvedimento reale nel siste-
ma ellenistico di sfruttamento e gestione dei territorî, vd. Bencivenni 2004, pp. 167 sgg. Il fatto
che la pratica sinora sia attestata in due casi nel regno seleucidico (ai tempi di Antioco I e II) nul-
la toglie al suo significato d’indicatore delle linee generali di un rapporto (anche a prescindere
dall’interrogativo se il conferimento alle città fosse obbligato o meno); inoltre, il tenore delle
disposizioni dettate a Ilio dal funzionario reale coinvolto nelle operazioni di assegnazione ad
Aristodicide di Asso sembra riflettere un contesto amministrativo non ignoto (Virgilio, LDP
2
, n.
18, p. 265, ll. 13-15 e, per una forse eccessiva convinzione della «fréquence du rattachement aux
213
la ‘presenza’ dei re negli archivi delle poleis ellenistiche
quei distretti sino ad allora avevano dovuto al re – direttamente o per tramite di
altri concessionarî – doveva continuare ad affluire al basilikon (a meno di specifi-
ca esenzione fiscale), mentre al beneficiario dovevano toccare tutte o gran parte
delle rendite pertinenti: alla polis e alla sua amministrazione, una volta concorda-
ti con il conferente il principio, le modalità, le percentuali per il servizio, doveva-
no toccare le operazioni di riscossione e inoltro per il conto del re (se richiesto) e
del concessionario, con i guadagni comportati dalla mediazione e dalle ricadute
fiscali dall’area che rientrava nei suoi confini, per quanto limitate dalle esenzioni
riservate al conferente
28
. Oltre alla corrispondenza che si sviluppava nelle diverse
fasi dell’operazione e che vedeva coinvolti diversi gradi dell’amministrazione re-
ale (e, almeno in uno dei casi attestati, probabilmente dell’interessato), oltre alla
definizione catastale dell’area entrata a far parte della chora, oltre alla consueta
decretazione civica connessa, dunque, negli archivi cittadini dedicati entravano
linee o voci parallele e poi consecutive di documentazione, riconducibili ai diver-
si ambiti della fiscalità e della sua gestione, interna e di relazione con altre entità,
comprese le varie esenzioni
29
.

cités grecques de la côte égéenne de domaines concédés aux fidèles ou aux familiers du pouvoir
royal séleucide», Capdetrey 2007, p. 151, seguito da Thonemann 2009, p. 375; 2011, p. 248). Vd.
anche nt. 29.
28 Che la polis ne traesse vantaggio è esplicitato dalla «gara» per essere scelta dal beneficiario
attestata dalla lettera del funzionario seleucide coinvolto dal donativo di Antioco I ad Aristodi-
cide (Virgilio, LDP
2
, n. 18, p. 265, ll. 5-8); che il vantaggio rientrasse nella categoria delle proso-
doi appare facile dedurre (vd. ad esempio Musti 1977, pp. 240-241; Gauthier 1980, p. 46; cfr.
Sartre 2004, p. 168, nt. 15; Bencivenni 2004, pp. 177 sgg.; Thonemann 2009, p. 375; 2011, p.
248; all’incremento della disponibilità di prodotti agricoli pensa Aperghis 2004, pp. 105-106).
Quanto agli altri interlocutori, il re otteneva di dimostrare la sua evergesia a philos, o familiare,
e città (in una scelta che poteva essere orientata), senza probabilmente perdere troppo delle sue
rendite (incrementandole in caso di mantenimento di un phoros civico proporzionale alla chora,
o, nell’eventualità di aphorologesia, salvaguardandole attraverso (gli) altri tele) e affidando la ge-
stione del territorio a enti interessati allo sfruttamento e incaricati della sua gestione fiscale; il
beneficiato godeva comunque della titolarità di un bene che gli produceva delle entrate, al netto
dell’eventuale contribuzione da conservare, direttamente o indirettamente, per il re e di quanto
doveva versare alla città (dopo adeguate trattative): è anche in questa prospettiva che si deve
valutare la condizione giuridica e fiscale del terreno inglobato nella chora di Gambreion che nel
326/5 o 325/4 il titolare Krateuas dava (in tutto o in parte) in affitto, specificando la produttività
dell’area coltivabile (e dunque la sua imponibilità proporzionale per chi fosse titolato al prelie-
vo) e il fatto che il kepos annesso doveva un phoros annuo (al re, nella persuasiva interpretazione
di Thonemann 2009, spec. pp. 375 sgg., che non considera peraltro l’aspetto che qui si rileva).
In generale, vd. Chandezon 2004; Aperghis 2004, pp. 106-107; Capdetrey 2007, pp. 149-153; cfr.
Corsaro 1985, p. 88.
29 Per quel che riguarda il re, l’unico caso di comunicazione diretta attestato sinora, in un
contesto differente, è quello di un sovrano a una città caria, nel III sec., il quale ycyçzçcv t¸:
¸ocì¸: ×z: ta: 8¸µa: ot: nçoo[o]ç:,c: t¸: noìc: tov tav Xzì׸toçcav 8¸µov, allo scopo di
creare una sympoliteia (I.Mylasa 913, ll. 2-4: vd. Reger 2004, pp. 153-154); per l’insieme della cor-
rispondenza relativa a un’operazione di prosorizein interna all’amministrazione reale, trasmes-
so alla città mediante lettera di accompagnamento del responsabile di essa, è esemplare il già
citato dossier relativo ad Aristodicide, con le sue tre lettere di Antioco I allo stratego Meleagro;
214
Il ventaglio delle catene documentarie indotte non si limitava alla fiscalità.
Appare ovvia la produzione documentale collegata con le multiformi manifesta-
zioni di onoranza che le città, più o meno spontaneamente e frequentemente,
riservavano ai sovrani, in loco o nei centri sede delle grandi feste dinastiche, dal
decreto che di volta in volta dava inizio alle procedure e dalle lettere di comunica-
zione alle varie registrazioni contabili derivate, gli elenchi, gli estratti documen-
tali... È sufficiente considerare nella prospettiva che qui si rileva una serie di dati
contenuti in documenti ufficiali.
A Teo, nel 203 ca., il denaro per la fabbrica e la dedica dell’agalma per Antioco
III doveva essere fornito dai tamiai cittadini c× tav t:µav taµ ¸zo:ìcav ¸ c× t¸;
8:o:׸oca;, ovvero in prima istanza da un già costituito fondo riservato «Onori
per i re», oppure, in caso di mancanza di denaro, da uno dei capitoli disponibili (o
riservabili) dell’amministrazione civica tradizionale, comportando l’operazione,
come quelle relative agli altri sovrani con cui la polis aveva a che fare, adegua-
ta registrazione
30
. Così avveniva in caso di altra soluzione contabile, come per

l’esistenza di un periorismos dell’area trasferita è documentata dall’altro dispositivo connesso
con la pratica, quello ordinato da Antioco II per l’area venduta a Laodice II (Virgilio, LDP
2
, n. 19,
ll. 7, 15, 51; il documento da conservarsi nella cancelleria reale e da esporsi sulle cinque steli
pubblicitarie doveva naturalmente entrare negli archivi della polis eventualmente interessata);
a uno o più decreti si affidava l’«accettazione» da parte della polis delle condizioni del rapporto
col beneficiario (Virgilio, LDP
2
, n. 18, p. 265, ll. 13 sgg.: il seguito della richiesta di Meleagro agli
Iliei – ×zÐot: zv ocy¿aç¸o¸: [scil. Aristodicide] t¸v zvzyçzç¸v no¸ozµcvo: – faceva riferi-
mento ai documenti della relazione diretta con Aristodicide e alla loro registrazione in archivio,
come prospettò RC, pp. 70-71 e accoglie Bencivenni 2004, p. 163 e 2010, p. 166; del resto, un
esemplare di psephisma di onore e beneficio fiscale è documentato dal (secondo) decreto priene-
se per l’ufficiale seleucide Larichos, I.Priene 18, ll. 20-27, benché in un contesto all’apparenza di-
verso: vd. Bencivenni 2004, pp. 179-180); seppure assai lacunosa e di difficile interpretazione,
una lettera di ambito seleucide del 220 ca.-188 indirizzata a Seleucia/Tralles e menzionante una
dekate al basilikon, sembra collegare la richiesta cittadina al riguardo a periorismoi che è suggesti-
vo ricondurre alla situazione sopra indicata (RC 41 (I.Tralleis 17), ll. 4, 5, 8; per il suggerimento,
vd. Corsaro 2010, p. 117; per ipotesi sulla paternità della lettera – Acheo, Zeuxis, un funzionario
seleucide – vd. Ma 2004, p. 213). Assai minor margine di contrattazione, ma numerose conse-
guenze documentali avevano le poleis del continente greco che per ordine del re dovevano de-
cretare l’incorporazione come cleruchi e cittadini di soldati già impiegati al servizio antigonide,
secondo la convincente interpretazione presentata da Oetjen 2010 delle circostanze dei decreti
di cittadinanza attestati in Grecia dalla seconda metà del III secolo (a cominciare naturalmente
da quelli di Larisa in seguito all’intervento di Filippo V, di cui sopra, alla nt. 12). Com’è noto,
un’ultima, significativa operazione di prosorizein reale si ebbe con la decisione testamentaria
di Attalo III di lasciare a Roma la città di Pergamo libera, nçoooç:oz; zct¸: ×z: noìc[:t:׸y]
¿açzv ¸v c×ç:v [cv] (OGIS 338, l. 6, del 133; per l’integrazione e interpretazione, vd. p. es. Virgi-
lio 1993, p. 25, nt. 53 – «aggiungendole ai confini anche quel territorio che decise (fosse territo-
rio) cittadino» – e Dmitriev 2005, pp. 78-79, con nt. 33).
30 SEG 41, 1003, II, l. 63, con Ma 2004, p. 145; nell’ambito della dioikesis era del resto previsto
dallo stesso decreto la taxis di un fondo annuale per la celebrazione dei sacrifici per la coppia
reale nelle simmorie civiche (ll. 17-21): cfr. Migeotte 2006, pp. 92-93; Rhodes 2007, p. 356, con
nt. 40. I re in questione non erano necessariamente solo seleucidi (per l’occupazione lagide
della città ai tempi della guerra laodicea, vd. Ma 2004, p. 36 e, per il successivo controllo attalide,
ivi, pp. 47, 256, nt. 65; per i problemi di datazione dei documenti tei riferiti ad Antioco III, ivi,
215
la ‘presenza’ dei re negli archivi delle poleis ellenistiche
i prestiti accesi dalla polis di Delo allo scopo di finanziare le statue e le corone
per i sovrani di turno, sia presso una banca privata, sia presso il tesoro di Apollo,
registrati dalle scritte (epigraphai) sugli stamnoi della cassa poleica e della cassa
sacra conservati nel santuario e riportati nella contabilità degli hieropoioi
31
. Nella
prospettiva dell’«intrusione» della presenza reale nella documentazione civica,
non è particolarmente significativo che le spese per gli onori per i re (e la relativa
documentazione) appartenessero a una voce finanziaria distinta e parallela ri-
spetto alla dioikesis civica, oppure rientrassero in quest’ultima e in una delle sue
attribuzioni interne
32
.
Per quanto meno «autonoma», significativa era anche la presenza dei re elle-
nistici all’interno delle liste che registravano le operazioni religiose e rituali della
polis di turno e che di volta in volta aggiungevano date, circostanze, nomi, moda-
lità. E’ ancora la Teo impegnata a onorare Antioco III e la moglie a prescrivere che
l’importante festa istituita allo scopo fosse «iscritta nel libro sacro» (zvzy[çz¦z:
8c t]zct¸v t¸v coçt¸v c:; t¸v :cçzv ¸c¸ìov), il registro ufficiale delle feste ci-

pp. 55, 66, 203-208, Appendice 2). Il nomos che Teo – verisimilmente non unica – si era data cncç
t¸; ×ztzo×cc¸; tav t:µav (ll. 89-90) poteva riguardare i manufatti in onore dei benefattori
in generale, e non soltanto quelli dei re (tanto più che il denaro previsto per il completamento
della fontana per Laodice doveva essere prelevato senz’altro dalla dioikesis, ll. 87-88). Fondi ri-
servati (apotetagmena) per gli onori «dei re e della regina», in questo caso limitatamente alla
famiglia di Antioco III, sono attestati anche a Sardi, dopo il 209: vd. Robert 1964, p. 10, n. 1, ll. 18-
19 (con Gauthier 1989, pp. 58-59, 75-76, 152-153). Una partita di bilancio riservata agli «onori»
per i re, nelle diverse loro forme e obbligatorietà, appare anche nella Samo lagide della metà del
III secolo, dove il benefattore Bulagora interviene anche quando c:;... µcv toc; otcçzvoc; [scil.
di Tolemeo III e Berenice] ×z: tz; Ðco:z;... ncç:oç:oµcvz cn¸ç¿¸v ¿ç¸µztz (IG XII 6.1, 11, ll. 27
sgg.); ad altro capitolo apparteneva o otcçzvo; ta: ¸zo:ìc: che Alicarnasso versava a Tolemeo
II, tramite un deposito bancario che produceva ricevuta, PCZ 59036, ll. 25-26 (vd. Wörrle 2010,
pp. 377-378; cfr. anche nota seguente).
31 Cfr. I.Délos 399A, ll. 21-23 (il conto del 192 che registra il recipiente della cassa cittadina con-
tenente la somma presa a prestito dalla polis per le corone di Eumene II, oltre che di un re e di
un demos non identificabili), ll. 36-38 (la registrazione del recipiente della cassa cittadina conte-
nente la somma presa a prestito dalla polis nel 195 per le statue di Attalo I e del medico Filippo),
ll. 47-49 (il recipiente della cassa cittadina contenente la somma presa a prestito dalla polis nel
194 per pagare le statue di Attalo I, di Antioco III e di Laodice); I.Délos 442A, ll. 25-26, 64-65 (il
conto del 179 con la registrazione della restituzione alla cassa sacra nel 180 del prestito acceso
l’anno precedente dalla città per le corone di Filippo V, Eumene II e il demos di Rodi), ll. 41-44,
66-67 (le restituzioni alla cassa sacra della somma presa a prestito dalla città l’anno precedente
per le corone di Filippo V e di Massinissa). Per la natura delle epigraphai in questione, vd. ad
esempio Nouveau Choix 2002, p. 154: «soit une étiquette soit… une inscription à l’encre sur la
jarre elle-même». Sulle pratiche amministrative e contabili della polis di Delo in relazione alle
spese «comportate dalla diplomazia» vd. ivi, p. 155; su quelle generali in età ellenistica, nelle
diverse fasi, vd. Migeotte 2005b.
32 A Teo, la voce delle corone per Antioco III e Laodice era entrata all’elenco di quelle messe
annualmente in aggiudicazione dai tesorieri civici (SEG 41, 1003, II, ll. 57-59: nçoonaìc:v 8c t¸
av¸ [t¸;] otcçzvonaì:z; toc; c×zototc y:voµcvoc; tzµ:z; t¸v [nzç]zo¿c:o:v tav otcçzvav
toctav). Per la problematica del rapporto, connessa con le diverse indicazioni nelle fonti epi-
grafiche, vd. in particolare Schuler 2005; vd. anche più oltre.
216
viche e dei loro regolamenti
33
. E il risultato più in generale (oltre che probabil-
mente le forme redazionali dei registri ricapitolativi) si coglie negli esempi di
calendario rituale civico o ginnasiale pervenuti nella trascrizione epigrafica
34
.
A Pergamo, nella tarda età ellenistica, si trascriveva un calendario religioso
che, nella forma del rimando al decreto apposito mediante estratto/riassunto
dei considerando, manteneva nella sequenza mensile, esito delle trascrizioni sus-
seguenti, la registrazione della festa connessa con le vittorie di Attalo I contro
i Galati e Antioco Hierax più di un secolo prima
35
. A Eritre, dopo il 189, il calen-
dario dei sacrifici trascritto vedeva inseriti nella sequenza dei destinatarî delle
thysiai di ogni mese le voci «re» e «re Antioco (I)»
36
. Egualmente significativo
delle conseguenze documentali dell’inserimento delle cerimonie per i re nella
vita civica è il calendario dell’attività religiosa e atletica di feste nel ginnasio di
Coo, polis libera dopo Apamea, redatto fra 158 e 145: di esso resta la trascrizione
epigrafica per tre mesi consecutivi, con l’inclusione di Attaleia (per Attalo I, 240-
197), processioni per «il re Tolemeo (VI, 181-145)», per Eumene (II, 197-158), per
«il re Attalo (II, 158-138)», per un altro basileus dal nome perduto
37
. Se tali onori
erano conseguenti a donativi reali e se la trascrizione registrava la recezione di
cerimonie di carattere civico nella serie di attività dell’istituto, com’è stato corret-
tamente ipotizzato, la compresenza di serie parallele di liste, con le loro diverse
modalità e fasi di redazione appare facile da dedurre
38
.

33 SEG 41, 1003, II, ll. 28-29; su questo tipo di scritture, sulla loro organizzazione, sul loro con-
testo documentale vd. anche quanto segue.
34 Rileva giustamente la frequenza dei «giorni reali» nel calendario delle poleis, indirizzando
all’esame delle conseguenze istituzionali dell’intervento sul «tempo della città», Savalli-Le-
strade 2010a, spec. pp. 69-70 (per gli esempi qui sotto citati vd. p. 69, nt. 60) e 83; a Ma 2004, pp.
167-168 si deve la sottolineatura della pratica di inserire le disposizioni religiose connesse con
la regalità nel sistema di riferimento preesistente (vd. anche Chaniotis 2007, p. 161; Wiemer
2009, pp. 127 sgg.).
35 I.Pergamon 247, I, ll. 1-6, con Virgilio 1993, p. 33. Per le altre voci ci si limitava alla nota ×ztz
¦¸ç:oµz di un dato anno (cfr. II, ll. 2 sgg.). Sulla compresenza di mesi macedoni e «locali» nel
documento e sulla durata del calendario, vd. oltre.
36 McCabe, Erythrai 61, rispettivamente ll. 28, [34], [48], [63-64] e 22, [29a], 36, 49, [62], [64], 72-
73, 93, cfr. 82, 95; in un mese figura destinatario di sacrificio anche Alessandro (l. 90), in un altro
compare anche una basilissa (ll. 39-40, forse Stratonice); i «re» sono gli Attalidi. Dal momento
che i sacrificî per i re e per Antioco erano qualificati come koinon, è lecito pensare che essi figu-
rassero nelle registrazioni delle altre poleis della lega ionica. Per ulteriori «presenze» reali nella
vita religiosa di Eritre, vd. più sotto.
37 IG XII 4,1, 281, rispettivamente l. 8, ll. 12-14, l. 27, ll. 40-41, ll. 47-48 (la datazione della lista è
conseguente: vd. Habicht 2007, p. 145, nt. 158 e, per il contesto storico di buona relazione con le
due dinastie implicate, pp. 145-146).
38 Per la prima ipotesi, in rapporto però al solo ginnasio, vd. Bringmann, Steuben, pp. 252-254,
Kotsidu 2000, p. 569 (contra Aneziri, Damaskos 2004, p. 266 con nt. 135); per la discussione
circa competenze civiche e competenze ginnasiali in fatto di cerimonie religiose per i sovrani
e per l’idea che nel caso in questione si trattasse di «stadtische Feste», vd. Aneziri, Damaskos
2004, p. 262, nt. 107 (descrive giustamente il documento come «véritable tableau miniature
217
la ‘presenza’ dei re negli archivi delle poleis ellenistiche
Naturalmente (e variamente) associati ai «libri» sacri erano i testi religiosi
composti per i re e i loro familiari: il loro significato e la periodicità delle cerimo-
nie cui erano collegati ne garantivano la redazione “ufficiale” e la conservazione
nelle forme idonee ai diversi impieghi cui erano destinati. A Teo, gli onori per la
regina Apollonide (moglie di Attalo I) prevedevano una volta all’anno il canto di
un «inno presso l’altare» (parabômion) da parte dei paides liberi e di «un inno» da
parte di fanciulle scelte: concluderne la conservazione in almeno un esemplare
di riferimento (donde trarne le copie d’uso) diviene naturale
39
. E se la vicenda
epigrafica eritrea dell’aggiunta nel 281 del peana per Seleuco I alla sequenza delle
composizioni analoghe per Apollo e Asclepio incise nel 380-360 con il regola-
mento dei sacrifici per le due divinità può riflettere un comportamento di regi-
strazione, viene altrettanto facile pensare ad analoga aggiunta al documento o al
dossier d’archivio
40
.
Allo stesso modo significativa diventava la presenza dei sovrani nella docu-
mentazione connessa con l’attribuzione dei sacerdozî, da quella più sintetica
in una lista delle vendite a quella più ingombrante a generazione dell’apposito
contratto per i titolari susseguentisi. Per il primo caso, basterà rimandare al re-
gistro delle vendite di Eritre, comprensivo di una quarantina d’anni (300-260) e
progressivamente aggiornato anche sulla pietra: intorno al 270 viene riportata la
voce relativa al culto per «il re Alessandro»
41
. Per il secondo, appare significativa
la diagraphe stilata a Coo post 188 dalla commissione istituita ncç: tzv Ðco:zv
×z: tzv zììzv t:µzv z: ocvtcìccv[t]z: ¸zo:ìc: lcµcvc: ×z: cço:; 8c: tzv
:cçaocvzv nçzиµc[v], le cui vicende di redazione appaiono riflesse dall’esito
epigrafico, che rileva una nuova aggiudicazione dopo qualche anno e qualche

de la vie religieuse de l’époque» Le Guen-Pollet 1991, p. 198, ma nella versione del testo è da
correggere il nome dei mesi della prima e terza colonna in Gerastios e Agrianios e da elimina-
re la nota d’apparato n. 10 di p. 197; egualmente da emendare sono i nomi dei mesi di quanti
riprendono le integrazioni dell’edizione Syll.
3
1028, ora superata; vd. anche Bosnakis, Hallof
2005, p. 239); quanto alle fasi redazionali delle liste interessate, occorrerà segnalare che ad
esempio Habicht 2007 non esclude che gli Attaleia fossero festeggiati già prima (p. 145).
39 Robert 1937, pp. 9-20 (cfr. Virgilio 1993, pp. 47-48, con nt. 175), ll. 8-10: correttamente Del
Corso 2005, p. 20 ne rileva l’appartenenza al «bagaglio di testi legati a tradizioni locali, ritua-
li, o eventi storici particolari, che eventualmente potevano essere fatti leggere e studiare nelle
scuole». Mutatis mutandis, appare significativo per il lessico impiegato il riscontro del decreto
del sinodo sacerdotale egizio del 238, nella sezione riservata alle manifestazioni del culto per
Berenice III: degli inni composti in suo onore dagli scribi sacri e consegnati al maestro cantore
tz zvt:yçzçz ×ztz¿aç:oиoctz: c:; tz; :cç[z; ¸c¸ìoc;] (Virgilio LDP
2
, pp. 211-221, n. 4, l. 59).
40 I.Erythrai 205 (LSAM 24), con l’aggiunta alle ll. 74 sgg. (subito interrotte dalla frattura della
pietra).
41 I.Erythrai 201 (LSAM 25), a, l. 78, nella serie dell’anno di Zenodoto, nel mese Leneo, insieme
col sacerdozio di Zeus Basileus. Il sacerdozio è attestato sino al III sec. d.C., senza che natural-
mente si possa dire se ci sia stata interruzione: cfr. I.Erythrai 64, l. 7 e, sulla specificità del caso di
Alessandro per il prestigio del personaggio, Frija 2012, pp. 25-26.
218
adattamento di normativa, con conseguente accumulo di documenti
42
. Natural-
mente poi i sacerdozî reali entravano come gli altri nelle diverse catene docu-
mentarie della polis, per le loro implicazioni diplomatiche e istituzionali e per
quelle economiche e fiscali: per le conseguenze documentali delle seconde basti
pensare, oltre ai registri di vendita, alle diverse linee di contabilità interessate
(anche per le esenzioni fiscali concesse); al primo aspetto si riconducono quanto
meno i decreti propositivi della vendita e della costituzione delle commissioni
redigenti, a loro volta inseriti nel rispettivo insieme di documenti generato dalla
catena diplomatica col re
43
.
Neppure priva di conseguenze documentali era, tra le forme di onoranza per
i re, la costituzione di nuove tribù poleiche a loro intitolate. Del caso più noto, l’a-
teniese, che nel 307/6 passò da dieci a dodici, nel 224/3 a tredici, nella primavera
del 200 scese a undici per ritornare subito dopo (e sino all’età romana imperiale)
a dodici, abbiamo indicazione nelle conseguenze sulla definizione e posizione
istituzionale dei demi. La prima aggiunta alle dieci tradizionali delle tribù Anti-
gonide e Demetriade (per Antigono Monoftalmo e Demetrio Poliorcete) sembra
aver comportato il trasferimento ad esse di quindici demi ciascuna; quella suc-
cessiva della Tolemaide (per Tolemeo III) il prelievo di un demo dalle precedenti
e la creazione del nuovo Berenikidai; l’eliminazione delle due macedoni una ri-
assegnazione di quelli svincolati alle phylai originarie; l’ultima dell’Attalide (per
Attalo I) la ripresa di un demo per tribù e la creazione del nuovo Apollonieis
44
. La
conclusione di conseguenze sui documenti connessi con l’organizzazione della
polis attica diviene scontata: al di là del mutare di ruolo e peso delle strutture in-
termedie nel sistema amministrativo ateniese e delle ricadute di esso nei loro



42 Si tratta di IG XII 4, 1, 306, l’incisione della prima diagraphe, mantenuta e aggiornata con la
sola sostituzione dei nomi dei commissarî e delle date (lacunosa della parte finale; la citazio-
ne nel testo alle ll. 2-3), e di IG XII 4,1, 309, l’incisione della nuova, stilata dalla commissione
trascritta anche nel documento originario, con selezione delle disposizioni indicate nel primo
documento e (apparente) aggiunta della durata epi biou. Anche se la lacunosità delle due epigrafi
(più consistente nella seconda) non permette il confronto sistematico, è possibile concludere
che il nuovo aspirante sacerdote poteva apprendere i propri doveri-diritti dai due documen-
ti associati, l’uno «riciclato» e semplicemente ridatato, l’altro stilato per l’occasione (anche in
considerazione dell’ulteriore iscrizione su pietra, sembra questa un’interpretazione più sod-
disfacente di quella di Bosnakis, Hallof 2005, p. 255, i quali pensano a «zwei Kopien ein und
derselben diagraphe», come IG, ad nn.; il discusso problema del rapporto fra versioni iscritte e
versioni d’archivio delle diagraphai sacerdotali in generale richiede un approfondimento, per il
quale si rimanda al volume in preparazione).
43 Per un caso esemplare, vd. gli esiti documentali delle legazioni del milesio Irenia presso
Eumene II e Attalo II, cui pertiene la redazione di una diagraphe per il sacerdozio del «dio Eume-
ne»: vd. Herrmann 1965, spec. 113-117, con Milet VI 3, 1040 e commento di W. Günther a p. 24.
44 Sulle diverse conseguenze della creazione delle tribù reali nel sistema tradizionale atenie-
se, vd. Traill 1975, spec. pp. 25 sgg. Sul contesto storico delle iniziative, vd. Byrne 2010, p. 159.
Sulla durata dei provvedimenti e le sue conseguenze documentali, vd. sotto.
219
la ‘presenza’ dei re negli archivi delle poleis ellenistiche
archivi, risulta difficile non pensare anche a interventi sulle mappe territoriali,
sulle liste di persone di pertinenza, sui diversi documenti della religiosità
45
.
Anche nelle altre poleis è indubbio che l’istituzione di tribù regali comportò
adeguate conseguenze nella vita locale e nei suoi documenti, da quelli ingenerati
dall’atto di assegnazione dei cittadini a quelli poi connessi con la sua esistenza
nel sistema amministrativo
46
. Un indizio, significativo per la sua risalenza (323-
312) e la sua esplicitezza può derivare da quanto stabilito dal decreto con cui la
città di Latmo organizzava l’unione con Pidasa, indotta dal satrapo di Caria Asan-
dro
47
. In essa era prevista l’aggiunta a quelle di Latmo della tribù Asandris, alla
cui composizione dovevano contribuire per sorteggio Latmî e Pidasei, i quali poi
avrebbero partecipato alle cerimonie religiose specifiche della nuova tribù e delle
fratrie interessate
48
.
Il rapporto di reciprocità e scambio tra poleis e sovrani naturalmente compor-
tava anche dei beneficî per le prime, nella forma di contributi e aiuti di vario ge-
nere da parte dei secondi.

45 Per la diversa documentazione connessa con l’organizzazione civica ateniese di età classica,
vd. Pébarthe 2006, pp. 173 sgg. L’unico catalogo di demi – raccolti per tribù – a noi giunto è una
versione epigrafica della fine del III secolo, SEG 36, 230 (IG II
2
2362), con la sezione, lacunosa,
della tribù Tolemaide, II, ll. 54 sgg.; sul suo rapporto con le operazioni del 200 e sulla documen-
tazione d’archivio ad esse correlata, di varia risalenza, vd. Stanton 1994, p. 194; per un mutato
assetto della rete amministrativa interna dalla metà del III secolo e l’apparente venir meno del
ruolo istituzionale di demi e fratrie dalla metà del II, vd. Ismard 2010, pp. 327 sgg. Naturalmen-
te alle tribù reali erano connessi anche la pratica del culto per gli eroi eponimi e un sacerdozio
specifico: vd. Habicht 1970, p. 154; Mikalson 1998, p. 81; Habicht 2006, p. 219 e quanto segue.
46 Per Demetrieis, forse con Antigoneis, a Samo, vd. Kotsidu 2000, pp. 257-259, n. 175 [E2];
per una Seleukis (Seleuco I) a Colofone e a Magnesia al Meandro, vd. rispettivamente Kotsidu
2000, p. 356, n. 241 [E] e pp. 368-369, n. 252 [E]; per Antigoneis (forse Antigono Gonata) a Tessa-
lonica, vd. Kotsidu 2000, p. 184, n. 115 [E] (I.Thess 184); per un’Attalis a Ilio, vd. Kotsidu 2000,
pp. 309-310, n. 213 [E], a Magnesia sul Meandro (Attalo I), vd. Kotsidu 2000, pp. 369-371, n. 253
[E 1, 2]. A contesto diverso, ma con pari conseguenze, si riconducono le tribù regali connesse con
la (ri)fondazione di una città e variamente attestate nel tempo: vd., forse, la tribù Alexandris
a Ilio (Kotsidu 2000, pp. 300-301, n. 205 [E]); l’Antiochis (Antioco I) ad Antiochia al Meandro
(Kotsidu 2000, p. 381, n. 261 [L]); le Seleukis, Antiochis, Laodikis, Eumenis, Attalis, Stratonikis a
Hierapolis di Frigia, (Cohen 1995, p. 306); le Attalis e Laodikis di Laodicea al Lico (Cohen 1995,
p. 309); le Seleukis e Antiochis di Nysa (Cohen 1995, p. 258); le Philetairis, Attalis, Eumeneia di
Pergamo (Cohen 1995, p. 169); gli Eumeneis di Sardi (Cohen 1995, p. 231). A questi elenchi, noti
da tempo, si aggiunga l’attribuzione a un re (forse Tolemeo I) della quinta tribù attestata a Iaso
negli ultimi decenni del IV secolo (I.Iasos 59 e Maddoli Suppl., 5, su cui Fabiani 2010, p. 482), la
Tolemaide (riferita al Filadelfo) dell’epigrafe caria SEG 51, 1495, l. 2 (Bargasa?), le Seleukis e An-
tiochis di Ege (Malay, Ricl 2009, p. 40, ll. 22-25, con P. Hamon BE, 2010, 522, p. 830).
47 SEG 47, 1563, su cui Bencivenni 2003, pp. 151 sgg., n. 6; Wörrle 2003a, 2003b, pp. 1373-1377:
la volontà del satrapo sarebbe stata espressa e comunicata da un diagramma, o da un documento
contenente la sua gnome (cfr. Hamon, BE, 2011, 526). Per la cronologia di Asandro, vd. Fabiani
2009, spec. pp. 62-65, 72. Per la durata del provvedimento (e per la sopravvivenza del decreto),
vd. più oltre.
48 Ll. 4 sgg. Il passo con il dispositivo in questione non è del tutto chiaro per quel che riguarda
l’organizzazione civica originaria dei due centri: vd. Wörrle 2003a, pp. 125-128.
220
La città aveva interesse a tenere precisa contabilità di riscontro alle sovven-
zioni che il sovrano decideva di assegnarle dal basilikon, come nel caso della Teo
seleucidica di fine III-inizi II secolo, dove una parte del prezzo di un fondo che la
polis donava agli Artisti dionisiaci doveva essere pagata dai tamiai dell’anno se-
guente «sui primi contributi che sarebbero stati loro conferiti dal tesoro reale per
l’amministrazione civica» (c× t[av nç]atav 8oиooµcvav zcto:; cy ¸zo:ì:×oc
c:; t[¸v t¸ ]; noìca; 8:o:׸o:v)
49
.
Necessità e cura per la documentazione – interna ed esterna – comportavano
i casi di elargizioni reali finalizzate, su più anni, o in perpetuo. Viene facile pen-
sare alla documentazione prodotta da quella della regina Laodice a Iaso (195 ca.),
in base alla quale il diecete per dieci anni doveva conferire alla città diecimila
medimni attici di cereale, che i tamiai dovevano vendere (in toto o in parte) ad un
prezzo fisso, così che i prostatai e quanti altri la città ritenesse utile coinvolgere
procedessero ad assegnare una quota del ricavato (non superiore alle trecento
dracme di Antioco) in dote alle fanciulle povere
50
. Più nel particolare, un punti-
glioso decreto della polis di Delfi, che nel 159/8 regolamentava lo sfruttamento
del capitale di fondazione conferito in perpetuo dal re (associato) Attalo II per l’e-
ducazione dei fanciulli liberi e per il finanziamento degli Attaleia, nell’attestare la
ricaduta delle operazioni contabili e amministrative comportate dalla gestione
dei prestiti quinquennali conseguenti indica le vie della catena documentaria
che ne derivava
51
. La richiesta esplicita ai commissarî di depositare nel damosion

49 Le Guen, Associations, n. 39, ll. 15-18, con le importanti osservazioni sul possibile iter conta-
bile all’interno della polis di Rhodes 2007, pp. 360-361: i sovrani in questione potrebbero essere
i Seleucidi o gli Attalidi (vd. ivi, pp. 204 sgg., con l’opzione per i secondi, fra 218 e 204; per una
sintesi delle posizioni, vd. Aneziri, Vereine, pp. 174 sgg., 376 ad D2). Allo stesso modo Eraclea
al Latmo chiedeva ad Antioco III che 8:8atz: 8c ×z: c× ¸zo[:ì:×oc c:; 8:o:׸]o:v t¸; noìca;
µzì:otz µcv nìcov, c: 8c µ¸ yc tzìzvtz [c. 5 a ]; nçotcçov (SEG 37, 859, C, ll. 1-2, con Wörrle
1990, p. 19, nota *; Migeotte 2004, pp. 218-219; Schuler 2005, pp. 401-402; in Ma 2004, p. 389
ancora erroneamente [… c:; ¿ç¸ ]o:v); il re concedeva anche c× ¸zo:ì:×oc per tre anni la som-
ma necessaria per il ripristino dell’acquedotto (A, ll. 12-13; per donazioni finalizzate, vd. anche
quanto segue).
50 Ma 2004, pp. 375-380, n. 26A, ll. 15-25; cfr. Ma 2004, pp. 134-135, 233-234, con Fabiani 2010,
pp. 473-476 (i pr. erano allora i magistrati principali della città, detentori della demosia sphragis
e, come a Euromo, connessi con pratiche di produzione e conservazione di documenti ufficiali,
tenuti nel loro archeion; cfr. sopra con nt. 18) e Vacante 2011, pp. 43-45 (che propende per la
vendita in quantità fissate). Giustamente Vérilhac, Vial 1998, p. 166, nt. 98 respingono l’idea
di una molteplicità di simili fondazioni da parte della regina. Vd. anche la nota seguente.
51 Bringmann, Steuben, n. 94 [E], sul cui contesto storico vd. Murray 1996, spec. pp. 40 sgg.
(ma per la data esatta vd. Mulliez 1998, pp. 237 sgg.); su alcune delle pratiche amministrative
connesse vd. Dimopoulou-Piliouni 2007 e Migeotte 2009/10. Un analogo caso di costituzio-
ne di capitale di fondazione a partire da un dono regale indirizzato all’educazione dei bambini
si ebbe a Rodi nel 161/160 grazie all’invio di 280.000 medimni di cereale da parte di Eumene II
(Polyb. 31,31,1-3); lo stesso re aveva gratificato Delfi di un fondo di rotazione riservato per la sito-
nia (F.Delphes III 3, 237, ll. 5-7, Syll.
3
671B, ll. 6-7: cfr. Migeotte 1991, pp. 34-35 = Migeotte 2010,
pp. 320-322) e di una fondazione per gli Eumeneia (cfr. Syll.
3
671A, il decreto di regolamento, in-
viato in copia al re), anch’essi naturalmente ricchi di conseguenze documentali. I giusti rilievi
221
la ‘presenza’ dei re negli archivi delle poleis ellenistiche
grammateion l’elenco definitivo dei mutuatarî (con una parallela nel tempio) sot-
tolineava l’importanza dell’operazione e il significato di riferimento del docu-
mento che conteneva i nomi di quanti permettevano al meccanismo di svolgersi.
Essa non attestava che la lista era l’unico documento generato dalle operazioni e
destinato alla conservazione nei luoghi della comunità
52
. Qualche dettaglio, al-
meno per una linea del complesso documentale, appare laddove è il sovrano che
detta le procedure, come per la Mileto del 299 ca., che riceveva da Antioco (I) le
entrate derivanti dalla stoa fatta da lui costruire allo scopo di contribuire alla ri-
costruzione del Didymeion: i tesorieri e magistrati cittadini (i pritani) dovevano
«prendere in consegna» ([nzçz]8c¿coÐz:) le prosodoi, «assegnarle ad un fondo
speciale» (×ztztz [ooc:v 8c ] zct¸v ×zÐzct¸v) e procedere poi all’aggiudicazio-
ne dei lavori (µ:o[Ðao:v] no:c:oÐz:)
53
.
Lungo una linea più diretta dell’iter amministrativo, il nome del sovrano fi-
gurava in liste civiche riepilogative delle somme ricevute dall’esterno, la cui or-
ganizzazione – variamente costruita su uno degli elementi cardine, annualità,
nome dell’evergete, scopo – e il cui rapporto con (le) altre sequenze potevano va-
riare a seconda degli usi e della complessità della locale amministrazione
54
. Per
quanto non sia chiaro se si tratti di redazione epigrafica costruita su dati raccolti
da diverse serie d’archivio tematiche (col titolo specifico Tz8c c8a×cv 1:ìctz:-
ço; Attzìoc 8açczv ta: 8¸µa:) o della trascrizione di un elenco riassuntivo a
nome del donatore, risulta indicativa appunto della registrazione e della varietà
della documentazione generata una distinta delle doreai del dinasta Filetero alla

di Chankowski (V.) 2007b, pp. 106 sgg. e Gabrielsen 2008, pp. 117, 120-121 sui meccanismi am-
ministrativi richiesti dal dispositivo finanziario della fondazione (come istituto) potrebbero
estendersi alle conseguenze documentali di essi e alle diverse permanenze di elenchi e logoi nei
sistemi archivistici.
52 Ll. 28-31: zv|z|yçz¦zvtc; toc; 8c8zvc:oµcvoc; ×z: tz cvc¿cçz zctav cµ n:vz×z; ìc-
ìcc×aµcvoc; 8co... ×ztzÐcvta 8c toµ µcv cvz n:vz×z cv tov vzov, tov 8c cvz n:vz×z cv to
8zµoo:ov yçzµµztc:ov (sulle procedure amministrative connesse con la redazione delle liste,
preventivamente lette nell’assemblea, vd. Gauthier 2000, p. 121 = Gauthier 2011, pp. 392-393);
la disposizione, espressa con l’aoristo del verbo, è riferita alla prima serie di operazioni e non
è ripetuta nella descrizione del regime per il futuro (ll. 33 sgg.), ma il seguito del regolamento
rende chiaro che la gestione del fondo continuava a comportare la redazione e conservazione
dei due pinakes dei prestiti quinquennali, secondo i ritmi naturali di quel tipo di documentazio-
ne; vd. anche Migeotte 2009/10, pp. 211 sgg.
53 OGIS 213, ll. 19-23 (I.Didyma 479). L’intervento del sovrano non è naturalmente indicativo
del fatto che la polis non sarebbe stata in grado di contabilizzare e gestire il fondo, bensì del-
la volontà del re che il suo beneficio risultasse, nella distinzione, più evidente di quanto non
avvenisse di solito con i fondi dovuti ai beneficî di singoli (come giustamente rilevato da Ga-
brielsen 2008, p. 123: «Nominally, the donor never became completely separated from his or
her donation»). Per la pratica della ripartizione finalizzata dei fondi nelle poleis ellenistiche vd.
Migeotte 2006 (per Mileto, pp. 79-83).
54 Per il richiamo alla loro esistenza vd. Bringmann 2004, p. 150, nt. 6, donde si traggono gli
esempi che seguono.
222
città di Cizico tra 280 e 270
55
. Anno per anno (ne sono conservati sei), sono indi-
cati finalità/causale – gare, stato di guerra, rifornimento d’olio e banchetto per
i neoi, approvvigionamento alimentare – e dorea specifica, denaro (forse anche
per una fondazione), cavalli, esenzione fiscale sui beni in transito nel territorio
dinastico, truppe spesate, cereali
56
.
L’inserimento dei re in liste tematiche appare in altri documenti ricapitolativi
trascritti in un dato momento su pietra. Esempio indicativo è l’elenco dei contri-
butori alla ricostruzione di Tebe, re e città, distribuiti su una quindicina di anni
fra 315 ca. e inizi III secolo
57
. Un titolo generale di scopo (che copriva due colonne
di elenco) introduceva una prima sequenza di donatori per una decina d’anni,
città e basileis (due volte quello futuro di Sidone, Filocle, e una Demetrio, nel 304),
nella prima colonna variamente separati da spaziature funzionali; una seconda
titolatura all’interno della seconda colonna, distinta da paragraphoi, introduceva i
re che avevano contribuito successivamente (ma ante 293)
58
.

55 OGIS 748 (cfr. Bringmann, Steuben, n. 241 [E 1]): le ultime 7 linee sono lacunose; alla leggi-
bilità epigrafica si deve probabilmente il fatto che per la prima annualità è indicato accanto al
nome dell’eponimo anche la sua qualifica, assente nelle successive. Per l’inquadramento crono-
logico, e la possibilità che la sequenza temporale non sia continua, vd. Gauthier 2003, p. 13 (=
Gauthier 2011, p. 581), nt. 14; sul contesto storico, Orth 2008, p. 493.
56 Alle diverse finalità e categorie corrispondevano naturalmente catene documentarie specifi-
che: per quella connessa ad esempio con la phylake del territorio (ll. 13-14), vd. sopra, con nt. 22.
57 Syll.
3
337 (con Bringmann, Steuben, n. 83 [E 1]), privata del titolo e assai lacunosa nelle pri-
me 17 linee; egualmente perduti sono i dati di contesto del manufatto. Per la lettura del docu-
mento è ancora fondamentale, per gli aspetti che qui si considerano, Holleaux 1938, pp. 1 sgg. A
differenza dello studioso, tuttavia, non si ritiene che la ricapitolazione sia stata esclusivamente
epigrafica, raccogliendo «le contenu de plusieurs listes manuscrites jointes bout à bout» (p. 6):
se è vero che esistevano tali elenchi, corrispondenti a «plusieurs séries de versements, datant
d’époques diverses, échelonnées sur une assez longue durée», non è escluso che esistessero,
a scopo raggiunto o a periodi, liste ricapitolative d’archivio, con quelle caratteristiche formali
d’intitolazione e ripartizione che compaiono nella trascrizione epigrafica (integrale e, come ri-
leva giustamente Holleaux, pp. 4-5, effettuata in un’unica occasione).
58 Vd. rispettivamente l. 1 (integrata da Holleaux 1938, p. 39), [Too: ¿çc:µztz c8a×zv t¸ noì:
t¸ Oc:¸¸av cv tov oocvo:×:oµov], e ll. 35-36, To: ¸zo:[ìc:c; tz8c c8a×zv] t¸ noì[: cv tov ooc-
vo:×:oµov]. Ad organizzazione tematica può ricondursi la (lacunosa) trascrizione epigrafica
di Argo SEG 32, 371 (Bringmann, Steuben, n. 47 [E]), che riporta in parallelo su due colonne
rispettivamente il contributo finanziario dei re Tolemeo VI, Tolemeo VIII, Cleopatra II e quello
di nove città cipriote, entrambi conclusi da un vacat: l’impaginato dell’iscrizione e la natura del
manufatto non impediscono la possibilità dell’inserimento della sequenza in un elenco (epi-
grafico e, a monte, d’archivio) più lungo introdotto dall’indicazione di scopo (vd., a partire da
una diversa interpretazione delle quote contributive delle poleis, Meadows 2005, con la con-
clusione che esse dovevano essere reiterate). La forma più «semplice» d’ingerenza reale nei
documenti civici è rappresentata dall’inserimento del nome in elenchi più specificatamente
civici, come quelli di sottoscrittori: quello accluso all’estratto di decreto istitutivo di epidosis per
il restauro del ginnasio a Larisa nel 192-186 (SEG 33, 460, II, conservato solo in parte) vede indi-
cati 1:ì:nno; ¸zo:ìcc; (alla l. 1 probabilmente come il più generoso) e Hcçocc; 1:ì:nno: to:
¸zo:ìc:o; (ll. 17-18; sul documento, vd. Migeotte 1992, pp. 90-93, n. 33).
223
la ‘presenza’ dei re negli archivi delle poleis ellenistiche
Alla luce di quanto precede, appare comprensibile che alcune poleis, per perio-
di di tempo anche prolungati, ritenessero di dover riservare agli «affari relativi
ai re» (tz ¸zo:ì:×z ) una voce dell’agenda delle assemblee, in posizione di rilie-
vo subito dopo i hiera
59
. Una possibile conseguenza di ciò era che, nell’organiz-
zazione della raccolta dei decreti della seduta, quanto eventualmente suscitato
dalla circostanza trovava una collocazione regolare e facilmente reperibile nelle
sequenze delle ekklesiai
60
.
In rapporto ai diversi tipi di documentazione introdotta e ingenerata dai re
ellenistici nelle poleis e alle forme della loro gestione nel rapporto quotidiano
con l’amministrazione e le cancellerie reali un ulteriore fattore merita attenzio-
ne: l’impiego di sistemi di datazione proprî a queste ultime, i quali, sotto diversi
aspetti e con vario peso sulla vita amministrativa della polis, richiedevano ad essa
un ulteriore impegno nell’organizzazione delle carte, e probabilmente anche un
supplemento di documentazione, rappresentato da “tavole di conguaglio” e da
liste parallele
61
.
Significativi di un’esigenza e di una pratica (per quanto sinora limitata alla
Caria seleucidica e a una città di dipendenza più diretta) sono i due decreti ono-
rarî di Amyzon del 202 e 201 che recavano la data reale (indicazione del regno di
Antioco III, anno dell’era seleucide, mese macedone, il nome del gran sacerdote
del culto dinastico e di quello di Zeus Kretagenetas e Diktynna) e – introdotta dal-
la formula a; 8c o 8¸µo; zyc: («e come computa il demos») – la data locale, com-
posta dello stefaneforo eponimo e del mese ionico in un caso, dello stefaneforo

59 Una rassegna dei decreti onorarî che comportano il privilegio dell’accesso all’assemblea
«dopo (la trattazione de)gli affari sacri e reali» figura in Ivantchik 2007, pp. 105-107 (con il
giusto rilievo dei «problèmes soulevés par le roi (par une lettre ou par une ambassade)»): si
tratta di Samo, con una trentina di ricorrenze tra fine IV e metà III sec. (vd. anche IG XII 6, 2,
Ind. VIII, 38 a-b); Efeso, con cinque, ca. 325-275; Bargilia, con una, ca. 270-261. Ai dati proposti
dallo studioso si deve sottrarre quello suggerito di Olbia Pontica (SEG 57, 723, l. 18: vd. i dubbi
giustificati di A. Avram, in BE 2008, 399), ma aggiungere quello di Calimna, persuasivamente
integrato alla l. 64 della versione iscritta I.Iasos 82, citata sopra per l’intervento di un re median-
te diagramma nella richiesta di giudici stranieri (nt. 12). Per l’applicazione del principio della
priorità istituzionale assunta dal rapporto con il re di turno, sono significative le disposizioni
date nel testo dell’accordo di reclutamento fra un Antigono e la polis cretese di Eleuterna (IC II,
xii, 20, con Guizzi 2001, pp. 385-389): una volta giunti gli ambasciatori del re, i cosmi devono
convocare l’ekklesia entro dieci giorni, o comunque «al più presto», e, in essa, introdurli e «non
trattare null’altro prima di aver dato loro una risposta» (ll. 11-17).
60 Per ipotesi circa l’organizzazione d’archivio dei decreti cittadini, si rimanda al volume in
preparazione.
61 Da altra prospettiva, l’aspetto è stato meritoriamente rilevato nell’importante contributo di
Savalli-Lestrade 2010a (vd. anche sopra, con nt. 34 e le note seguenti). Occorre naturalmente
distinguere tra la versione iscritta e quella d’archivio (oltre che considerare gli usi delle varie
versioni di un documento: vd. Meadows 2005, pp. 464-465); ad esempio la considerazione di
Gauthier, Hatzopoulos 1993, p. 36, che in Macedonia «la datation par année de règne est loin
d’être la règle sur les documents antérieurs à 168» nasce dalla considerazione esclusiva dell’epi-
grafia.
224
e del sacerdote locale dei re (Antioco padre e figlio omonimo) nell’altro
62
. Un uso
corrente nei documenti di accordi interpoleici, allora presumibilmente affidato
alla rispettiva memoria degli incaricati delle poleis e a un conguaglio ad hoc, in
una relazione più indiretta poteva trovare la formalizzazione scritta, di volta in
volta tra la sequenza eponimica cittadina, l’anno del regno di controllo e, al caso,
l’eponimia sacerdotale generale di turno (lasciando alle memorie civiche fissate
all’inizio del contatto più stabile con le monarchie il conguaglio tra il computo
mensile del tempo locale, civile e religioso, e il calendario macedone)
63
. Se l’archi-
viazione dei documenti si poteva mantenere (per praticità) per anno e mese po-
leico (quale che fosse), le necessità della corrispondenza con l’amministrazione



62 Rispettivamente Ma 2004, pp. 338-339, n. 9, ll. 3-4; pp. 339-340, n. 10, ll. 3-4, entrambi in in-
tegrazione sicura (per l’ovvia lettura vd. Buraselis 2010, p. 427; incomprensibile la traduzione
di Debord 2003, p. 290: «dont le peuple [i.e. la cité] est maître [à l’initiative]»; vd. anche quanto
segue). La polis era del resto stata abituata alla datazione con anno di regno e mese macedone
dalla lunga sottoposizione ai Tolemei, quando peraltro l’eponimo locale era il neopoios dell’Ar-
temision: vd. Robert, Robert 1983, p. 118, n. 3, ll. 1-3 (cfr. p. 127, n. 6, ll. 1-3); il fatto che nelle
versioni epigrafiche non venisse riportato il nome del mese locale non autorizza a concludere
che il calendario macedone al tempo dei Lagidi «a remplacé le vieux calendrier local» (p. 120;
cfr. Savalli-Lestrade 2010b, p. 131), che ricompare nel 202; qualche anno dopo peraltro poteva
apparire un’epigrafe con decreto onorario datato da anno locale e mese macedone (ivi, p. 235,
n. 35, ll. 1-2; cfr. anche Savalli-Lestrade 2010b, pp. 131, nt. 29 e 132-133: l’ipotesi dapprima poco
convinta che ci potesse essere stato «panachage» con i mesi macedoni diventa via via accredi-
tabile; vd. nota 64). Per il demosion di Amyzon, vd. Robert, Robert 1983, p. 213, n. 26, l. 6; per una
(nuova) lista di stefanefori dal 167, dopo il ventennio rodio, vd. ivi, pp. 244 sgg., nn. 51-54.
63 Tra i non pochi esempi della formulazione di conguaglio nei documenti intercittadini e
intragreci, vd. il trattato di pace fra Mileto e Magnesia al Meandro, Milet I 3, 148 (185-180?: sulla
datazione, vd. lo status quaestionis in Laffi 2010, pp. 78-79, nt. 7), ll. 89-91: esso doveva iniziare a ;
µc v M:ì¸ o:o: z yoco:v, otcçzv¸ço çov Ðco v to v µc[tz
---
×]z : µ¸ vz Hczvo¦:a vz ×z: c ×t¸v c n:
8c ×z, a ; 8c Mz yv¸tc; [z yoco:v, otcçzv]¸ço çov Aç:otc z ×z: µ¸ vz Ayvca vz ×z: nc µnt¸<v>
c n: 8c ×z. Per le eponimie sacerdotali annuali centralizzate lagidi occorre segnalare che la loro
menzione nella data di alcuni decreti di Xanto – abbinata all’eponimia del locale hiereus dei Tole-
mei e non a quella civile – contiene solo i titoli, non i nomi (cfr. SEG 36, 1218, del 202/1); l’ipotesi
di Bousquet 1986, p. 31, che essi non fossero conosciuti non appare sostenibile, anche alla luce
del richiamo all’uso egizio di simili «gelichtete Formeln» fatto da Buraselis 2010, pp. 422 sgg.
Diverso era naturalmente il caso delle eponimie pluriennali, come quella dell’archiereus intro-
dotto da Antioco III e ripreso poi dagli Attalidi e dell’archiereia di Laodice: la ritenzione del nome
era semplificata, ma la presenza – almeno nelle città di più diretto controllo – era intesa come
invasiva, dal momento che per il primo il re aveva disposto di ×ztz¿aç: ,c:v 8c zc to v ×z: c v
tz: ; ocyyçzçz: ; ×z: c v to: ; z ììo:; ¿ç¸µzt:oµo: ; o: ; c: Ð:otz: e per la seconda che le titolari
c n:yçzç¸ oovtz: 8c ×z: c v [to: ;] ocvzììz yµzo: µctz toc ; ta v [nçoyo v]av ×z: ¸ µa v z ç¿:cçc: ;
(vd. rispettivamente Ma 2004, pp. 326-328, n. 4, ll. 44-46 e pp. 405-406, n. 37, ll. 26-28; cfr. pp.
232-233, con il rimando ai decreti conservati che applicano la prima norma nelle città di Amyzon
e Xanto; la durata di un anno circa della seconda, legata al presunto ripudio di Laodice – vd. ad
esempio Debord 2003, pp. 291, 293 – è da verificare: cfr. Ogden 1999, pp. 137-138; l’idea si con-
nette con la convinzione che la norma, in assenza di altre attestazioni epigrafiche, non avesse
trovato grande e diffusa applicazione: per un giudizio sospeso, vd. Müller 2000, p. 533, con nt.
81).
225
la ‘presenza’ dei re negli archivi delle poleis ellenistiche
del re richiedevano un sistema di pronto reperimento, con liste cronologiche pa-
rallele di confronto (quando non di registrazione)
64
.
Tali liste erano tanto più importanti quando si trattava di registrare le festi-
vità introdotte per i sovrani, che erano aggiunte o associate a quelle civiche, ma
che rispondevano anche al calendario macedone della regalità. Dati i contesti e
quanto si viene delineando sull’attività documentale nelle poleis, viene facile in-
terrogarsi sull’esistenza di copie del calendario macedone con le feste reali, cui
conformare la scelta dei giorni e dei mesi civici via via dedicati ai sovrani (e in-
trodotti poi nel «libro sacro»)
65
.
Com’è già stato notato, gli obblighi fiscali nei confronti dell’amministrazio-
ne reale prevedevano dei computi secondo le annualità di essa, che avevano il
loro riscontro nelle cancellerie di rapporto. Le poleis variamente impegnate nella
raccolta e nel rendiconto delle tasse dovute difficilmente avrebbero potuto esi-
mersi dai calcoli e dalla registrazione conformi a quel ritmo. La precisione ammi-
nistrativa, del resto, era funzionale anche alla tempistica delle esenzioni, come
dimostra la già ricordata lettera di un funzionario seleucide del 197 ca. che fissava
lo statuto fiscale di una città sconosciuta per gli anni a venire: essa non avrebbe
pagato nulla al basilikon per sette anni, riprendendo dall’ottavo
66
.

64 Questo naturalmente non significa l’«uso parallelo di due diversi sistemi calendariali», che
giustamente Daubner 2008, p. 177, nt. 24 esclude per Pergamo (senza spiegare la compresenza
di mese macedone e mesi «eolici» nel già citato I.Pergamon 247 altrimenti che con la Sonderstel-
lung della polis-capitale del regno). A facilitare le relazioni intervenne nelle poleis micrasiatiche
il progressivo slittamento dell’inizio dell’anno dal solstizio d’estate all’equinozio d’autunno: vd.
Savalli-Lestrade 2010a, pp. 63, 83 (cfr. Laffi 2010, p. 92; per la complessità della situazione
nei possedimenti lagidi d’oltremare, vd. anche Bousquet 1988, p. 23, con i rimandi di nt. 6: il
calendario macedone di Xanto e della Licia non corrispondeva a quello d’Egitto). Non si può qui
approfondire il caso ateniese, che, al dire di Plutarco (Dem. 10,4), dal 307 al 287 avrebbe visto la
sostituzione dell’eponimia tradizionale con quella del sacerdote dei Soteres Antigono e Deme-
trio (il cui nome essi cn: tav ¦¸ç:oµztav ×z: tav ocµ¸oìz:av nçocyçzçov), senza però trova-
re conferma nelle fonti epigrafiche: fra il tentativo di Dreyer 1998 di ricondurre il dato all’epo-
nimia (aggiuntiva) degli anagrapheis tra 294 e 292/1 e la negazione di massima della veridicità
della notizia di Buraselis 2010, si potrebbe richiamare l’ipotesi di un’eponimia secondaria che
gli Ateniesi avrebbero variamente praticato nelle scritture correnti, ma non in quelle esposte;
B. Dreyer (p. 27, nt. 15) pone l’accento sull’uso nel passo del verbo anagraphein per l’ascrizione
dei due Macedoni agli theoi soteres (10,4: oat¸çz; zvcyçz¦zv) e per la registrazione nella serie
dell’ultimo titolare del 287 (46,1: ^:ç:ìov, o; ¸v :cçcc; tav lat¸çav zvzycyçzµµcvo;): ciò non
può documentare una coincidenza delle funzioni eponimiche di hiereus e di anagrapheus (come
responsabile di scritture), ma può indicare la presenza di liste con, rispettivamente, l’anagraphe
degli onorati e quella dei loro sacerdoti.
65 Col segnalarne l’attuale mancanza di attestazione, non evita di richiamare il problema
Savalli-Lestrade 2010a, p. 68 («dans la plupart des cas, nous ignorons en règle générale si oui
ou non le choix des jours et des mois consacrés localement à un roi ou une reine avait comme
référent ultime une liste de fêtes royales dont les dates étaient établies d’après le calendrier
macédonien»; il corsivo è della studiosa; cfr. anche ivi, p. 70).
66 Ma 2004, pp. 403-404, n. 36, ll. 14-18. Vd. Schuler 2007, pp. 395-396 e sopra, con nt. 33.
226
All’aspetto della presenza reale negli archivi cittadini, nelle sue diverse e molte-
plici applicazioni, si collega naturalmente quello, speculare, della sua cessazione,
attraverso lo scarico – eventuale – del materiale connesso con figure o regni non
più praticati dalla polis (restando inteso che la documentazione reale connessa con
la dinastia di governo o controllo doveva essere conservata in tutte le componenti
principali e di lunga durata della sua filiera)
67
. Che ci potesse essere attenzione al
riguardo da parte di un sovrano sembra emergere dalla richiesta di Attalo III alla
propria città capitale di immettere nella sezione delle «leggi sacre» (: cço: vo µo:)
dell’archivio civico, ex officio e dichiaratamente di validità illimitata, i prostagmata
reali circa la nomina di Ateneo a sacerdote ereditario di Zeus Sabazio, l’installazio-
ne del dio nel Nikephorion e le cerimonie da compiere, «affinché [gli onori per il
dio e i beneficî per il personaggio] permangano per sempre non rimossi né modi-
ficati» (o na; z v c: ; z nzvtz ¿ço vov z ×: v¸tz ×z: z µctz Ðctz µc v¸:)
68
.
Come s’è visto, il problema riguarda sostanzialmente la corrispondenza con
le sue componenti e conseguenze normative, la documentazione fiscale, quella
connessa con l’organizzazione istituzionale e religiosa.
L’interesse della città a conservare comunque le missive di un re o della sua
amministrazione che la riguardavano appare evidente per ciò che concerneva la
definizione del suo statuto e delle sue relazioni con l’autorità rappresentata, in
base al «principio burocratico-amministrativo del ‘risalire il più indietro pos-
sibile nella serie degli atti delle amministrazioni reali relativi alla questione’»
riconosciuto dagli studiosi ai rapporti tra petenti e autorità
69
. E in questa prospet-

67 A prescindere naturalmente dai ritmi d’archivio riservati ai documenti a vita breve coinvol-
ti nella relazione qui parzialmente delineata.
68 RC 67, ll. 14-16 (OGIS 331, ll. 58-60, cfr. sopra, nt. 11); Pergamo aveva compiuto l’operazione
attraverso lo psephisma adottato all’uopo, come rilevano le linee finali, sole superstiti, che pre-
vedono l’archiviazione anche di esso: cyyçz [¦]z: 8c ×z: c:; [to]c [; : ]cçoc; voµoc; [toc; t¸ ];
[no ]ìca; [t]o8[c to ] ¦¸ç:oµz ×z: ¿ç¸oÐz: zcta: voµa: ×cç:a: c:; znzvtz toy ¿çovov (OGIS
331, ll. 2-4). Le ipotesi di C. B. Welles (p. 271) circa le ragioni dell’ultimo re di Pergamo per la ri-
chiesta – sostanzialmente l’incertezza del futuro – non sono dimostrabili (in ogni modo da sfu-
mare è l’idea che «royal enactments… would not outlast the dinasty»). L’espressione nel testo
era una variante retorica del formulario civico relativo ai decreti che passavano a leggi (sacre):
cfr. il pressoché contemporaneo psephisma Virgilio, LDP
2
, pp. 246-251, n. 14 (con Hamon 2004)
che doveva essere [×]cç:ov... c:; znzvtz tov ¿çovov ×z: ×zt[z]tc[иv]z:... cv voµo[:; : ]c[ço:;]
(ll. 61-62; la «deposizione» naturalmente aveva significato concreto) e, sempre per il II secolo,
LSAM 13, ll. 40-43, il regolamento civico per il sacerdozio di Asclepio, con la variante cyyçz¦z:
8c ×z: c:; toc; voµoc; [toc; t]¸; [no ]ìca; to ¦¸ç:oµz to8c ×z: [¿ç¸oÐa]ozv zcta: voµa:
×cç:a: c:; znzvtz tov ¿çovov. Per un’attestazione di basilikoi nomoi a Pergamo, vd. in fine.
69 Cfr., nello specifico per il caso di Labraunda, Virgilio 2001, p. 49 e Bencivenni 2003, p.
281, nt. 68, che riprendono le considerazioni di Habicht 1972, p. 168, via Robert, BE, 1972, 422,
p. 462 (cfr. anche Bencivenni 2003, pp. 260-261, nt. 8, con Dignas 2002, pp. 277-278). L’even-
tuale incisione delle lettere promossa dalle città potenziava l’efficacia politica ed esemplare
delle disposizioni impartite in esse, ma costituiva pur sempre una – ulteriore – «diramazio-
ne» documentaria della catena nella quale esse erano inserite, che garantiva nel suo complesso
il fondamento giuridico dell’operazione specifica (la quale poteva essere «rappresentata» in
misura più o meno completa attraverso la pietra: per un’analisi di motivi e aspetti della pratica,
227
la ‘presenza’ dei re negli archivi delle poleis ellenistiche
tiva occorre considerare il fatto che la città conservava non solo i documenti che
le riconoscevano dei privilegi (e che venivano sovente iscritti), ma anche quelli
di contenuto meno favorevole (epigraficamente esibiti solo collateralmente e in
contesti particolari). Basterà ricordare due casi, nei quali la procedura di resa epi-
grafica attesta una vita d’archivio trasversale alle diverse autorità di controllo.
Com’è noto, Priene dovette gestire per molta parte della sua storia una situa-
zione territoriale fatta di contestazioni e conflitti. Non sorprende che essa, in
generale attenta alle carte civiche, tenesse via via memoria dei documenti reali
che vi pertenevano. Nel 285 ca., impegnata a trattare uno status favorevole con
Lisimaco, la città esibiva (per intero o per estratto) l’autorevole dispositivo di Ales-
sandro, del 334, che aveva definito i suoi confini e concesso un’ateleia
70
. Nel 196-
191, in occasione dell’arbitrato rodio nella rinnovata contesa territoriale con Samo,
Priene poteva aver ancora esibito un documento di Alessandro, oltre a c n:otoìz:
¸zo:ì:×z: delle diverse dinastie coinvolte e le lettere dello stratego lagide Agesar-
co del 245 ca.
71
. Ed è difficile pensare che, nel 135, quando legati prienesi e samî si
recarono a Roma per un’ulteriore fase della contesa, i primi recassero soltanto il
pur dettagliato testo dell’arbitrato, cui si richiamava il senato per la conferma
72
.
Significativo, sotto diversi aspetti, è anche il dossier collegato alla già ricorda-
ta querelle fra il sacerdozio del santuario di Labraunda e la polis di Milasa in Caria,
composto dalle lettere di re e amministratori lagidi, seleucidi, antigonidi redatte

vd. Bencivenni 2010, spec. pp. 165 sgg. e anche quanto segue). Dal canto loro, i Romani non
mancarono di dichiarare la validità di provvedimenti giuridici e fiscali dei re di cui assumevano
i territorî, come dimostrano ad esempio i senatoconsulti Popillianum e Licinnianum del 132 e 119
(riferiti rispettivamente agli Attalidi e a Mitradate V del Ponto: RDGE 11, con SEG 50, 1212, e 13,
con Daubner 2003, pp. 231-235 per la data).
70 Un diagramma per Bencivenni 2003, pp. 8, nt. 12, 30, nt. 39; un insieme di tre documenti
per Vacante 2010, pp. 220, 232 sgg. La versione significante del precedente (con la sua rubrica
d’archivio, piuttosto che epigrafica, Bzo:ìca; A[ìcçzv8]çoc) e il dossier decreto civico-lettera
di risposta venivano incisi contemporaneamente sul fronte dell’anta Nord del tempio di Atena
Poliade: I.Priene 1 (con Vacante 2010, pp. 220-221), 14, 15, con Sherwin-White 1985, pp. 82-83;
Magnetto 2008, p. 18.
71 Vd., rispettivamente, Magnetto 2008, p. 42, ll. 168-70 (con pp. 105 e 176), l. 171 (con pp. 110,
139 e, per una lettera di Antioco III, l. 167, pp. 140-141, con una datazione fra 213 e 197), ll. 131-
132 (con pp. 131-132); vd. anche Magnetto 2009, p. 9. Sull’archivio prienese, interessato dalla
vicenda, vd. Magnetto 2008, p. 178 e Camia 2009, p. 91; i Prienesi, che citavano col rimando
ad annum la legazione a Lisimaco del 283/2 ca. (p. 40, ll. 120-121), conservavano senz’altro copia
della lettera del diadoco che aveva allora attribuito la vittoria a Samo (che l’aveva pubblicata: IG
XII 6.1, 155). Per la data dell’arbitrato, vd. Magnetto 2009, pp. 10 sgg.
72 Camia 2009, p. 86 (già I.Priene 41, RDGE 10B; cfr. Famerie 2007, pp. 99-101, AEp 2007, 1428),
l. 12. L’esibizione di documenti può essere indicata dal rimando come precedenti ai ×ç:t¸ç:z
×c×ç:µcvz accettati da Roma qualche tempo prima nel senatoconsulto inciso nell’«archivio»
del tempio di Atena (Famerie 2007, pp. 99-100 (AEp 1427), l. 5; cfr. Magnetto 2009, p. 16, con
cui s’inclina qui a pensare che il documento, già I.Priene 40, RDGE 10A, fosse riferito sempre alla
contesa con Samo; non toccate sono comunque le capacità documentali di Priene, che poteva
forse anche rifarsi a un verdetto di Antigono Monoftalmo: vd. Magnetto 2008, pp. 109-110 e
2009, loc.cit.).
228
fra 280 ca. e 219, sette delle quali, databili o agli anni ’40 o agli anni ’20, ci sono
giunte riprodotte su diversi supporti nel santuario e nella polis, o in immedia-
ta conseguenza dei fatti, o in epoca romana (alla fine del II secolo o nel I secolo
d.C.)
73
. Che il dossier avesse anche e sempre una sua vita d’archivio parallela a
quella epigrafica può essere suggerito dal recente rilievo che la lettera di Seleuco
II a Olimpico del 242 ca. (e da questi inoltrata a Milasa), iscritta sia all’arrivo sia
nella prima età imperiale romana, figurava con la lettera d’accompagnamento
del funzionario solo nella seconda incisione
74
. Non iscritto nelle due riprese del
documento cui era connesso (del 220 ca. e del tardo II sec.) risulta sinora anche
l’antigraphon della lettera di Olimpico a Seleuco II suscitata negli anni ’40 dall’u-
dienza conseguente alle prime decisioni del re, che lo stratego trasmetteva alla
polis con la propria epistola di conferma del suo statuto e delle sue competenze
75
.
Parte del dossier labraundeno trovava inoltre nella prima età imperiale ulteriore
versione epigrafica a Milasa stessa, a giudicare dalla conservata trascrizione della
lettera di Olimpico alla città del 220
76
. Quali che fossero le ragioni della rivaluta-
zione dei documenti in diversi momenti dell’epoca romana, appaiono evidenti
l’interesse e il valore riconosciuti dai diversi interlocutori ai precedenti ammini-
strativi, di qualsivoglia origine, uniti alla pratica di usare epigraficamente atti “a
disposizione”
77
.

73 Vd. sopra, con nt. 15. Gli archivi in questione dovevano essere due, quello dei sacerdoti e
quello della polis, entrambi dotati della corrispondenza e della documentazione in oggetto. La
considerazione di Isager 2011, p. 206 che la lettera di Olimpico a Milasa che concludeva in senso
positivo la fase degli anni ’40 del III secolo «quite likely» fosse incisa circa vent’anni dopo può
sostenere l’idea di J. Crampa (I.Labraunda, p. 52) che la (sinora) unica incisione contemporanea
dei documenti del 240 ca., la lettera di Seleuco a Olimpico favorevole a Khorris, senza la lettera
del funzionario alla città, derivasse dall’archivio sacerdotale e riflettesse il (momentaneo) pre-
valere dell’autorità religiosa (cfr. Reger 2010, p. 51). Rovesciando la prospettiva, si può anche
ritenere che l’autorità che dettava l’iscrizione fosse Milasa, che pubblicava una lettera in fondo
«possibilista» e taceva della trasmissione di Olimpico, che richiedeva l’«obbedienza» ad essa
(I.Labraunda 2, l. 5).
74 Cfr. Isager 2011, pp. 206 con ntt. 25 e 27, 207-208 e 213: si tratta rispettivamente di I.Labraunda
1, 1B (Virgilio, LDP
2
, pp. 272-273, n. 20) e di I.Labraunda 2. A quanto si può giudicare attraverso le
lacune, i testi delle diverse serie risultano identici nel dettato, fatta salva la monottongazione.
75 I.Labraunda 3 (Virgilio, LDP
2
, pp. 273-275, n. 21), ll. 24-25; 3B, ll. 7-8; cfr. I.Labraunda 4, ll. 6-7.
Non escludeva l’incisione anche dell’antigraphon Crampa, I.Labraunda, p. 52.
76 I.Mylasa 23, con Virgilio 2001, p. 48, nt. 31 (cfr. I.Labraunda 4); la nota di Crampa, ad
I.Labraunda 4, p. 24, nt. 1, che il documento milaseo «may have belonged to a collection of earlier
documents» non chiarisce il rapporto con la documentazione d’archivio.
77 Per un’analisi delle circostanze storiche e del rapporto tra le diverse entità coinvolte, vd.
(con qualche cautela) Dignas 2002, pp. 204 sgg. Per una rassegna dei documenti di età ellenisti-
ca iscritti a Labraunda in età romana, vd. Chaniotis 1988, pp. 248 (D32), 250-251 (D41), con l’i-
dea del rinnovo di documenti già incisi, per contingenti ragioni politiche (pp. 256, 273-274). Si
ricorderà che all’incirca alla stessa epoca avveniva la nota indagine tiberiana sui titoli dell’asylia
micrasiatica, la quale riconosceva, accanto ai maiorum beneficia e ai sociorum pacta, anche regum…
qui ante vim Romanam valuerant, decreta (Tac. Ann. III, 60).
229
la ‘presenza’ dei re negli archivi delle poleis ellenistiche
Prova significativa dell’importanza dei documenti reali per l’amministra-
zione di una polis impegnata con i susseguenti poteri di controllo e anche del
destino d’archivio in cui quegli atti potevano incorrere è quanto emerge da un
insieme epigrafico dell’1 a.C. di Nysa, già fondazione seleucidica, che riferisce e
riproduce l’esito di una vicenda documentale lunga quasi tre secoli, connessa con
il riconoscimento di beneficî al santuario di Plutone e Kore entrato nella perti-
nenza della colonia. Esso vedeva incisi una lettera del 281 di Seleuco I e del figlio
Antioco ad un funzionario (preceduta forse dalla lettera di accompagnamento
di questi alla località allora interessata), una di re di altra dinastia impegnato a
confermare quanto riconosciuto dagli cµnçooÐcv / nço ¸µav ¸zo:ìc:; e altri
documenti correlati
78
. A quanto si può dedurre dal documento civico che è all’ori-
gine della scrittura epigrafica, si trattava di tz :cçz yçzµµztz, che la città aveva
conservato in archivio, ma che aveva dovuto rimuovere in epoca romana, quando
verisimilmente i privilegi erano stati revocati. Uno degli strateghi cittadini, che
si era occupato (cn:µcì¸Ðc:;) degli interessi del luogo di culto e della città presso
il governatore romano, riportandone alla fine una lettera d’assenso, si era difatti
curato di recuperarli, di «illustrarli» (cµç[z]v:oz;) al magistrato e di «restituirli
al (loro) archivio» (zno×ztcot¸ocv c:; to yçzµµzt¸ov), ricomponendo ufficial-
mente un dossier che la polis si premurava di riprodurre, per le parti significative,
sulla pietra nel santuario
79
.
Il medesimo principio del valore di precedente da confermare o da modi-
ficare, specialmente nel passaggio da un controllo all’altro, si può attribuire ai
documenti fiscali – almeno quelli cumulativi e di trasmissione – che entravano
evidentemente in causa quando si doveva dimostrare la consistenza di un contri-

78 RC 9 (lettera di Seleuco I e Antioco, per lo studioso forse già incisa a tempo debito), 64 (di re
imprecisabile: per l’ipotesi di Mitradate VI, dopo l’88, vd. Rigsby 1996, pp. 402-403, n. 185; sui
tentativi d’identificazione, che comprendono anche Antioco III ed Eumene II, vd. la discussione
di Ma 2004, p. 214, che esclude Antioco III sulla base dell’uso del singolare, presupposto ora da
rivedere, come segnalato da Virgilio 2010, pp. 119 sgg.; 2011, pp. 75, 224-230; il riferimento ai
predecessori citato nel testo è alle ll. 7, 12, 13); per i frustuli di ulteriori documenti del dossier,
compresa all’apparenza una lettera reale tardo-seleucidica che menziona Antioco «il Grande» e
che precede RC 64, vd. Rigsby 1996, p. 401; Ma 2004, pp. 218-219, 311-312.
79 Syll.
3
781 (RDGE 69), I, ll. 9 sgg.; al documento civico segue la lettera del proconsole (II),
debitamente «consegnata» in patria dall’emissario niseo (zno8oc;, l. 13) e registrata all’arrivo
(vd. l. 14, la data di recezione): di essa si sono conservati solo la formula di saluto e l’inizio delle
considerazioni, con il nome dello stratego (ll. 15-16). Alla ricostruzione indicata, che riprende le
osservazioni di Rigsby 1996, p. 405 sui «papyrus documents» in questione, non sembra poter-
si opporre un’alternativa ragionevole (soprattutto non quella, pure considerata dallo studioso,
«that grammateion here means the archival wall at the temple»). I tre mesi intercorsi fra l’arrivo
della lettera del proconsole e la «verbalizzazione» epigrafica furono necessari per le eventuali
verifiche dei documenti esibiti al magistrato, forse più numerosi di quelli iscritti, e per l’inci-
sione del dossier (inevitabile è la conclusione di Rigsby, loc. cit., che i documenti o le loro copie
«had been kept privately over the intervening years by interested parties»). Per un periodo mi-
tridatico di Nisa, che giustificherebbe una crisi nei rapporti con Roma, vd. Rigsby 1996, p. 402 e
Campanile 1996, pp. 162 sgg. Vd. anche, in generale sul rapporto fra autorità civili e santuario,
Boffo 1985, pp. 287-293.
230
buto per il quale si dichiarava l’entità imponibile e/o si richiedeva una forma di
esonero. È lecito immaginare che le dichiarazioni generali di beneficio fiscale si
fondassero in realtà su trattative specifiche, corredate dei documenti “storici” che
riferivano alla nuova, o rinnovata, signoria, le aree imponibili, lo stato tributario,
l’entità media delle prosodoi connesse.
Il processo della relazione fra Antioco III e Teo illustrato dal primo dei due
decreti civici in onore della coppia reale, al di là dei «filtri» del linguaggio di-
plomatico, è ricco di suggestioni
80
. Un soggiorno nella polis aveva reso edotto il
re della «grandezza» (µcycÐo;) delle syntaxeis versate ad Attalo I da una quindi-
cina d’anni, che egli prometteva di condonare nell’assemblea in cui dichiarava la
polis sacra, inviolabile ed «esente dal phoros»; lasciati i particolari tecnici ad una
successiva legazione della città richiesta per lettera quando era ormai lontano,
Antioco alla fine confermò ad essa di aver esonerato Teo in perpetuo dei phoroi
pagati al rivale
81
. Appare difficile escludere che l’operazione avesse implicato
dei grammata con una registrazione della contabilità precedente, necessarî per
le verifiche applicative di una rimozione che si configurava «per sempre» e che
aveva le sue conseguenze nell’amministrazione e nelle entrate seleucidi
82
. E non
mette conto qui di rilevare le componenti documentali del regolamento fiscale di
Apamea del 188, per le poleis che avrebbero dovuto pagare a Eumene i tributi già
versati ad Antioco
83
.
Più sfuggente (a motivo dello stato delle nostre conoscenze sul fenomeno) è
il destino dei documenti d’archivio connessi con le diverse forme di onoranza
religiosa, o delle voci derivate nei documenti della città
84
.
Una categoria che diviene semplice concludere come conservata in ogni
modo è naturalmente quella degli atti amministrativi civici che richiamavano
la figura reale soltanto attraverso la data, o la menzione di una tribù intitolata.
Com’è stato di recente chiarito, anche in un caso di rimozione esasperata della
memoria come quello dell’Atene del 200 a.C. contro tutti gli Antigonidi (in ogni
caso avvenuta dopo ventinove anni di distacco effettivo), perfino le azioni mani-

80 Per la natura del linguaggio in questione e per l’immagine nel testo, vd. Ma 2004, p. 354.
81 Ma 2004, pp. 351-353, n. 17, ll. 14, 19-20, 29-34.
82 Per una valutazione «amministrativa» dell’operazione in due tempi, vd. Ma 2004, p. 92,
con qualche forzatura; vd. anche Capdetrey 2007, pp. 418 sgg. (a sua volta, la decisione del re
«n’avait de force et ne pouvait s’inscrire dans la durée que si sa formulation prenait une forme
écrite»); non si entra qui nella vexata quaestio semantica e di sostanza del rapporto tra phoros e
syntaxis, ricorrenti nelle fonti con apparente indifferenza e incoerenza, e in quella dello statuto
della aphorologesia in relazione ai diversi obblighi contributivi di una città verso il re di turno:
vd. a riguardo Chankowski (V.) 2007a, pp. 324 sgg., con giuste osservazioni circa la necessità di
andare oltre la mera considerazione del «discorso ideologico reale» (e civico).
83 Polyb. 21,45, 2.
84 E che ancora una volta deve essere valutata a prescindere dal destino epigrafico dei docu-
menti, sinora l’unico a essere preso in considerazione nell’ambito delle ricerche sulla damnatio
nel mondo greco. Vd. anche quanto segue.
231
la ‘presenza’ dei re negli archivi delle poleis ellenistiche
feste di erasione epigrafica furono selettivamente concentrate nelle aree centrali
della polis e in ogni modo non toccavano il contenuto dei documenti, liste, decre-
ti onorarî per singoli o collegi
85
. Precisamente la finalità dimostrativa, a quanto
pare limitata nel tempo, oltre che nello spazio, sembra contrastare con l’idea di
un’indagine più o meno sistematica (e piuttosto impegnativa) negli archivi per
l’abolitio nominis corrispondente.
Naturalmente rimossi dovevano essere invece i documenti legati ad un’or-
ganizzazione tribale decaduta. Se esplicito è il caso di Atene, con le modifiche
già segnalate, meno chiaro è il caso di altre poleis, sia ove non ci siano dati pre-
cisi sulla fine di un ordinamento, sia ove resti testimonianza delle phylai reali
o dinastiche per epoche tarde. Ad esempio il destino dell’organizzazione legata
alla tribù Asandris ci è precluso dall’incertezza circa la data di creazione e il suc-
cesso dell’unione fra Latmo e Pidasa (comunque legata al decennio di governo
del satrapo, 323-313) e il rapporto istituzionale tra Latmo e la successiva Eraclea
al Latmo, fondata nei pressi negli anni del controllo di Antigono Monoftalmo
86
.
Se è tuttavia vero che il permanere della stele nel tempio poliade di quest’ultima
attesta l’inserimento del documento nella (almeno epigrafica) «lokalgeschicht-
liche Urkundensammlung», come una sorta di «Gründungsurkunde», e che ad
Asandro, come «fondatore», era riservato un culto nell’ambito della phyle, non
si può escludere che almeno quest’ultimo fosse rimasto e che nei hiera grammata
della nuova città se ne conservasse documentazione
87
.
Precisamente l’atteggiamento conservativo o di recupero delle memorie delle
città si connette con il permanere o il riemergere del culto per un sovrano o per
una dinastia, con tutte le sue manifestazioni pubbliche e le sue giustificazioni
documentali, originali o rinnovate. Com’è noto il problema è complesso e condi-
zionato dalla scarsità e natura delle fonti, ma è lecito attendersi, per periodi più o
meno lunghi, una sopravvivenza attiva, oltre che, in alcuni casi, un recupero, con
i suoi diversi riflessi nella documentazione d’archivio, via via conservata, ricopia-
ta, creata
88
. I dies festi, sacra, sacerdotes che Atene nel 200 annullò per gli Antigonidi

85 Vd. Byrne 2010, spec. pp. 65 sgg.; vd. anche Culasso Gastaldi 2003, pp. 259-260. Ciò non
escludeva naturalmente che la versione d’archivio di quei documenti andasse soggetta al «nor-
male» destino degli atti civici col passare del tempo. Sulle vicende storiche ateniesi dell’epoca,
vd. Habicht 2006, pp. 218-220 e Byrne 2010, p. 159. Vd. anche sotto.
86 Sulle incertezze legate all’operazione, variamente collocabile nel periodo di dominio di
Asandro, vd. Bencivenni 2003, p. 166; Wörrle 2003b, p. 1376, nt. 61. Sui rapporti con la succes-
siva fondazione, vd. Wörrle 2003b, pp. 1375 sgg.
87 Per le considerazioni sulle memorie della città di Eraclea evocate dal documento e dalla sua
storia, vd. Wörrle 2003a, pp. 142-143, donde si traggono le citazioni nel testo, e 2003b, p. 1376.
Quanto alla documentazione interessata, si può pensare, se non al decreto istitutivo, almeno a
voce sul «libro sacro» della città (vd. qui sopra).
88 Si tratta naturalmente di cogliere la vitalità delle manifestazioni al di là del permanere
delle epigrafi e dei monumenti, variamente investiti di un valore storico e dimostrativo che
aveva vita propria: cfr. Savalli-Lestrade 2009, pp. 141-142; 2010a, pp. 68 sgg. Un caso per il
quale l’apparente rimozione dei manufatti è stato visto corrispondere alla cancellazione di
232
si poterono mantenere senza disagio in luoghi ben più numerosi di quelli che
sinora documentano per epoche anche molto più tarde giorni intitolati, mesi,
tribù, festività e concorsi, sacerdozî, santuarî
89
.
Allo stesso modo vivevano di vita propria i diversi istituti finanziarî connessi
con capitali di fondazione erogati dai re, con il corredo di documenti correlati. Si-
gnificativo è il caso di Colofone, che in età romana amministrava il fondo offerto
dagli Attalidi per banchetti da offrire ai frequentatori del ginnasio dopo l’efebia,
la cui celebrazione annuale richiedeva un decreto e la nomina di epimenioi de-
putati, con l’avviamento delle procedure di finanziamento per quel che doveva
figurare, nei diversi luoghi, sotto la rubrica ¸zo:ì:×z 8c:nvz
90
.
È in questa prospettiva dei destini archivistici di documenti più o meno di-
rettamente prodotti dall’amministrazione reale che occorre valutare il contro-
verso caso del basilikos nomos pergameno – un regolamento urbanistico sotto la
responsabilità degli astynomoi locali – fatto incidere in età traianeo-adrianea da

tutto il dispositivo in occasione del passaggio di dinastia appare quello di Teo, i cui decreti per
Antioco e Laodice disposti su blocchi di parastas del tempio furono rinvenuti fuori sito presso
il muro del temenos (Herrmann 1965, pp. 31-33, 89-93): se l’idea avanzata da Chaniotis 2007, p.
171, che Teo avrebbe avuto interesse a rimuovere quanto era collegato con un re che si era distin-
to per aver eliminato le syntaxeis pagate al rivale, è plausibile, occorre pur sempre riflettere sull’e-
sistenza della lista dei Seleucidi divinizzati incisa nel II secolo OGIS 246 (Kotsidu 2000, pp.
473-474, n. *356 [E]; cfr. Ma 2004, pp. 192, 211). In generale sulla durata delle forme di culto reale
nelle poleis, vd. ancora Habicht 1970, pp. 186 sgg.; per una rassegna delle attestazioni, vd. Kot-
sidu 2000 (Kultische Ehrungen, pp. 636-637 dell’indice, alle diverse voci). Vd. anche sopra, nt. 41.
89 Per le vicende ateniesi vd. ancora Liv. 31,44, 4: il decreto, oltre all’abolitio nominis, preve-
deva diesque festi sacra sacerdotes, quae ipsius [Filippo V] maiorumque eius honoris causa instituta
essent, omnia profanarentur. L’associazione dei Demetrieia con le Dionisie, iniziata nel 295/4, era
terminata con la rivolta ateniese al re nel 288/7 (cfr. Le Guen 2010, pp. 506, 510). L’elenco delle
attestazioni nel testo riprende quello (analitico) di Chankowski (A. S.) 2010, pp. 277-278, che
è comunque suscettibile di ampliamento. Per il mantenersi del culto reale, inter alia inserito
nel sistema dell’evergetismo, vd. già Robert 1966, p. 15 (ripreso in Gauthier 1985, pp. 48-49);
per gli Attalidi onorati a Pergamo almeno sino al 60 a.C., con un possibile accantonamento al
tempo della permanenza in città del re del Ponto, vd. Virgilio 1993, spec. pp. 69 sgg., 92 sgg.;
per il mantenersi nella Sardi dell’epoca augustea degli Eumeneia e Panathenaia (per l’Atena di
Pergamo) istituiti nel 166 ca., vd. Robert, Robert 1950, pp. 7-8, 18-25.
90 SEG 39, 1244, II, ll. 46-54: c n: tc nçctz vca; lc ççz voço; ¦¸ç:ozµc voc toc 8¸ µoc tz ¸zo:ì:-
×z 8c: nvz to: ; vc o:; ×z: nçco¸ctc ço:; ocvtcìc: oÐz:, ta v 8c 8:8oµc vav c: ; tzc tz ¿ç¸µz tav µ¸
8:zno:oc vtav, z ììz ta v z no8c:×vcµc vav c n:µ¸v: av oc × o ì: z c zcta v c: oçcço vtav Mc v:nno;
toc ; tc µc ììovtz; c n:µ¸v:cc oc:v z nc ìcoc t¸ ; 8znz v¸;, tz tc 8:8o µcvz ¿ç¸ µztz nzçz t¸ ;
no ìca; z vc ncµ¦c t¸ : no ìc:, t¸ v tc toc 8¸ µoc nçoz: çco:v ×z: tz ; ta v ¸zo:ìc av c t¸[o: - - - - - -,
su cui vd. Robert, Robert 1989, pp. 99-101 (per i quali si tratterebbe di una ripresa dell’istituto) e
Bringmann, Steuben, pp. 303-304, n. 262a [E]; da circostanziare è la lettura di Fröhlich 2009, p.
83, nt. 122, che accenna al dato come a uno degli «examples d’évergètes prenant le relais des rois»
(come per l’anonimo ginnasiarco pergameno che fornì l’olio [×]ztzvzìocµc vav [¿]ç[¸]µz tav...
c × ta v ¸zo:ì:×a v yz[,a v... ], esauritisi dopo la morte di Attalo III nel torno di qualche anno: P.
Jacobstahl, «MDAI(A)» 33 (1908), pp. 381-383, n. 3 + H. Hepding «MDAI(A)» 35 (1910), pp. 419-
421, ll. 9-10, su cui vd. Hamon BE, 2009, 518 e, per la data del decreto al 129, Wörrle 2007, p. 509).
Per i problemi di datazione, per la quale si propongono gli anni seguenti al 120 o al 90, vd. Eilers
2002, pp. 124 sgg.
233
la ‘presenza’ dei re negli archivi delle poleis ellenistiche
uno di quei magistrati, a sue spese, nell’area dell’agorà inferiore della polis
91
. Il
collegio, che doveva continuare ad avere un proprio zç¿c:ov – ufficio e archivio
– poteva ancora disporre di una copia (di cui si manteneva l’ortografia) di un re-
golamento che conteneva gli ambiti d’intervento e rappresentava la continuità
delle funzioni della magistratura
92
.
Non si può dire quali fossero i termini di applicazione di quel precedente
“storico”, ma esso costituiva evidentemente un documento di riferimento per chi
esercitava quella carica, degno di un’esposizione che dava rilievo al magistrato
promotore di essa
93
.

91 SEG 13, 521 (alla l. 1, correggi zotcvoµav in zotcvoµav). Per i problemi di datazione dell’e-
pigrafe – ad esempio ricondotta dai Robert all’epoca ellenistica avanzata (BE, 1952, 137; 1955,
188) – vd. Chandezon 2003, p. 189, nt. 33; sul problema del rapporto tra normativa risalente e
attualità imperiale romana, vd. ad esempio Virgilio 1993, pp. 111-114 (di cui non si condividono
tutte le considerazioni); vd. anche Amelotti 2001, p. 225.
92 Per il rilievo dell’ortografia vd. Robert, Robert, BE, 1952, 137. La menzione esplicita a un
zç¿c:ov è alle ll. 227-229, laddove si prescrive una multa per gli astinomi se essi µ¸ Ðavtz: t¸v
cç czctav yçzç¸v tav ççcztav c:; to z., al termine della sezione riservata alle cisterne; la
prima disposizione relativa al controllo di esse è che i magistrati zvzyçzçoµcvo: [la lista delle
strutture nelle case] cv ta: HzvÐc:a: µ¸v: t:ÐcoÐaozv t¸v yçzç¸v nço; toc; otçzt¸yoc; (ll.
206-208). Resta da chiarire se l’archeion in questione sia il medesimo, come sembra indicare una
prima lettura e come pensano quanti lo intendono come «archivio» tout court (vd. ad esempio
Allen 1983, p. 176); che la documentazione prodotta dagli astinomi avesse collocazione artico-
lata, a partire precisamente dal loro ufficio, appare naturale dagli usi nelle poleis: la graphe in
questione doveva figurare anche (almeno) negli archeia degli strateghi (per struttura e organiz-
zazione degli archivi di Pergamo, si rimanda al volume in preparazione).
93 Ad «impliciti aggiornamenti» pensava Amelotti 2001, p. 225, in evidente riferimento al
fatto che le multe nel documento originario erano conteggiate in dracme (per un caso analogo,
sempre da Pergamo, vd. Wörrle 1969, con pp. 185-187 e nt. 99). Sull’importanza del documento
per il collegio magistratuale, vd. ancora Wörrle 1969, p. 188.
234
Abbreviazioni
AEp L’Année épigraphique, Paris 1888-.
Aneziri, Vereine S. Aneziri, Die Vereine der dionysischen Techniten im Kontext der
hellenistischen Gesellschaft, «Historia-Einz.» 163, Stuttgart 2002.
BE Bulletin Epigraphique, a cura di AA.VV., in «REG», 1938-.
Bringmann, Steuben K. Bringmann, J. von Steuben (a cura di), Schenkungen
hellenistischer Herrscher an griechische Städte und Heiligtümer, I,
Zeugnisse und Kommentare, Berlin 1995.
DNP Der neue Pauly: Enzyklopädie der Antike, a cura di H. Cancik, H.
Schneider, Stuttgart 1996-.
F.Delphes III G. Colin et al., Fouilles de Delphes, III, Épigraphie, Paris 1929-.
I.Beroia L. Gounaropoulou, M. B. Hatzopoulos et alii, Inscriptiones
Macedoniae Inferioris, I, Inscr. Beroeae / lHlIlA1l2 KATU
MAKlJONlA2, A', lHlIlA1l2 BllOlA2, Athenai 1998.
I.Délos Inscriptions de Délos, Paris 1926-1972.
I.Didyma A. Rehm, Didyma II, Die Inschriften, Berlin 1958.
I.Erythrai H. Engelmann, R. Merkelbach, Die Inschriften von Erythrai und
Klazomenai (IK 1, 2), I-II, Bonn 1972-1973.
I.Iasos W. Blümel, Die Inschriften von Iasos (IK 28.1, 28. 2), I-II, Bonn 1985.
I.Ilion P. Frisch, Die Inschriften von Ilion (IK 3), Bonn 1975.
I.Kyme H. Engelmann, Die Inschriften von Kyme (IK 5), Bonn 1976.
I.Labraunda Labraunda, Swedish Excavations and Researches, III, 1, J. Crampa, The
Greek Inscriptions, 1-12 (Period of Olympichus), Lund 1969.
I.Magnesia O. Kern, Die Inschriften von Magnesia, Berlin 1900.
I.Metropolis B. Dreyer, H. Engelmann, Die Inschriften von Metropolis (IK 63), I,
Bonn 2003.
I.Mylasa W. Blümel, Die Inschriften von Mylasa (IK 34, 35), I-II, Bonn 1987,1988.
I.Pergamon Altertümer von Pergamon, VIII 1, Die Inschriften von Pergamon, a cura
di M. Fränkel, Berlin 1890.
I.Priene F. Hiller von Gärtringen, Die Inschriften von Priene, Berlin 1906.
I.Smyrna G. Petzl, Die Inschriften von Smyrna (IK 23, 24.1), I-II, Bonn
1982,1987.
I.Thess
lHlIlA1lKA Ol22AAONlKllA· 21MBOAH 2THN
HOAlTlKH KAl KOlNUNlKH l2TOllA TH2 AlAAlA2
Ol22AAONlKH2, a cura di P. M. Nigdeles, Thessalonike 2006.
235
la ‘presenza’ dei re negli archivi delle poleis ellenistiche
I.Tralleis F. B. Poljakov, Die Inschriften von Tralleis (IK 36.1), Bonn 1989.
Le Guen, Associations Br. Le Guen, Les associations de technites dionysiaques à l’époque
hellénistique I. Corpus documentaire, Nancy 2001.
LSAM Fr. Sokolowski, Lois sacrées de l’Asie Mineure, Paris 1955.
Maddoli Suppl. G. Maddoli, Epigrafi di Iasos. Nuovi Supplementi, «PdP», 62, 2007,
pp. 193-384.
McCabe, Erythrai D. F. McCabe, Erythrai Inscriptions, Packard Humanities Institute
CD #6, 1991 (http://epigraphy.packhum.org/inscriptions/main).
Milet I. 2, I.3 A. Rehm, Inschriften, in Milet. Ergebnisse der Ausgrabungen und
Untersuchungen seit dem Jahre 1899, I. 2, Das Rathaus in Milet, Berlin
1914; Milet. …, I.3, Das Delphinion in Milet, a cura di Th. Wiegand,
Berlin 1914.
Milet VI.3 P. Herrmann et alii, Inschriften von Milet, 3, Inschriften n. 1020-
1580, in Milet. …, VI.3, a cura di V. von Graeve, Berlin 2006.
Nouveau choix 2002 Nouveau choix d’inscriptions de Délos. Lois, comptes et inventaires,
(Études Épigraphiques 4), a cura di Cl. Prêtre et alii, Athènes.
OGIS W. Dittenberger, Orientis Graeci inscriptiones selectae.
Supplementum sylloges inscriptionum Graecarum, I-II, Leipzig
1903-1905.
PCZ Catalogue général des antiquités égyptiennes du Musée du Caire:
Zenon Papyri, I-IV, a cura di C.C. Edgar, Le Caire 1925-1931.
RC C. B. Welles, Royal Correspondence in the Hellenistic Period. A Study
in Greek Epigraphy, London 1934 (rist. anast. Chicago 1970).
RDGE R. K. Sherk, Roman Documents from the Greek East. Senatus
Consulta and Epistulae to the Age of Augustus, Baltimore 1969.
RO P. J. Rhodes, R. Osborne, Greek Historical Inscriptions 403-323 BC,
Oxford 2003.
SEG Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum, Leiden 1923-.
Staatsverträge H. Bengtson, H. H. Schmitt, Die Staatsverträge des Altertums, I-II, a
cura di H. Bengtson, München-Berlin 1962-1969 (II
2
, 1975); III, a
cura di H. H. Schmitt, München-Berlin 1969.
Syll.
3
W. Dittenberger (F. Hiller von Gärtringen), Sylloge
inscriptionum Graecarum, I-III, Lepzig 1915-1924
3
.
Tit.Cal. M. Segre, Tituli Calymnii, «ASAA», n.s. 6-7 (1944-45) [1952].
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2
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245
Copie, malacopie, copie d’ufficio ...
Il recupero di testi da cartonnages ha posto gradualmente un problema che la ri-
cerca papirologica sta affrontando ancora in questi anni: quello della definizione
esatta non solo del concetto di archivio, ma anche della casistica che individua le
forme differenti di aggregazione dei documenti e soprattutto della paternità o
denominazione precisa di queste aggregazioni. Con il termine di aggregazione
intendo qui comprendere sia la definizione di archivio vero e proprio, sia quella
più ampia, recentemente affermatasi, di dossier. Alla definizione, come pure alla
distinzione tra archivi e dossier pubblici o familiari, in particolare per l’epoca el-
lenistica, ma non solo, hanno contribuito principalmente gli scritti di Pestman,
Martin e più recentemente Jördens, Van Beek, Vandorpe, Clarysse e ancora Heil-
porn
1
. Questi studiosi si sono impegnati a descrivere e connotare approfondita-
mente tale aspetto della ricerca papirologica, anche in relazione agli studi com-
piuti su insiemi documentali, principalmente di carattere contrattuale o fiscale
e per lo più provenienti dall’Alto Egitto e quindi da contesti talvolta anche arche-
ologicamente ricostruibili, come per gli ostraca tebani recentemente pubblicati

1 Mi riferisco naturalmente alle classiche definizioni fornite rispettivamente in Pestman
1990
2
, p. 51; e più specificamente, per gli archivi familiari e per la distinzione con i dossier,
Pestman 1995, pp. 91-92; Martin 1994, p. 570; Jördens 2001; Van Beek 2007, pp. 1034-1037;
Vandorpe 2009, 218-219; Heilporn 2009, pp. 17-20; Clarysse 2010, p. 48.
Copie, malacopie, copie
d’ufficio e il problema
della titolarità di un archivio
nell’Egitto tolemaico
lucia criscuolo
246
da Paul Heilporn o per gli archivi familiari da Pathyris studiati da Vandorpe-Wae-
bens
2
. Nel primo caso, cioè quello degli archivi veri e propri, com’è noto, si in-
tende sottolineare il deliberato intento di raccogliere e conservare i documenti,
mentre per i dossiers si tratta di raggruppamenti avvenuti ‘a posteriori’, talvolta
anche nell’antichità, ma non necessariamente con l’intento primario di conser-
varli o di classificarli: come per esempio nel caso di ostraca gettati via in un certo
momento o in un certo luogo e quindi riuniti arbitrariamente dalle circostanze
di rinvenimento, oppure di papiri impiegati per confezionare cartonnages. Certo
in casi simili molti dei testi potevano essere stati conservati congiuntamente an-
che prima di essere eliminati, ma nel momento del loro recupero non è detto che
si possa constatare e definire facilmente né la natura del loro eventuale passato
accorpamento, né l’autore o gli autori di tale operazione. In altre parole ciò che
è avvenuto per l’archivio di Zenone, pur nella complessità della struttura e delle
articolazioni che anche questo celeberrimo ‘archivio’ ha gradualmente rivelato,
non è facilmente applicabile ai documenti recuperati dai cartonnages tolemaici
3
.
Oltre al filtro rappresentato dal loro ultimo impiego da parte degli imbalsama-
tori in un certo luogo e in un certo momento, che di regola ignoriamo e che per lo
più può essere anche lontano da quello di origine dei papiri, spesso con i papiri da
cartonnages ci si trova di fronte a contenuti molto differenti per tipo e per genesi,
che mescolano pubblico e privato, ovvero spesso a testi inviati e ricevuti da uno
stesso personaggio ma, come vedremo, scritti dalla stessa mano. Inoltre di solito
il numero di testi, apparentemente, è quasi sempre assai modesto. Ciò nonostan-
te le esigenze di studio e talora forse anche una certa fretta hanno moltiplicato
nelle edizioni la definizione di “archivio o dossier del signor X” semplicemen-
te quando un nome, specie se di un funzionario, ricorreva più spesso. E questo
fin dalle origini della moderna papirologia: è il caso dell’archivio di Menches, il
comogrammateo di Kerkeosiris, pubblicato nei volumi dei papiri di Tebtynis,
sul quale gli studi di Verhoogt hanno riportato l’attenzione riconducendone
i documenti ad una raccolta pubblica e non privata, ancorché particolarmente


2 Heilporn 2009 ha infatti brillantemente tentato di ricostruire dei piccoli archivi familiari,
che in origine avevano raggruppato ricevute che furono rilasciate a medesimi contribuenti e
che poi, dopo essere state gettate, furono probabilmente ritrovate, insieme a molte altre, in uno
stesso contesto archeologico, ma successivamente vennero distribuite, e talvolta pubblicate, in
differenti collezioni. In pratica da dossiers di documenti fiscali ha identificato piccoli archivi,
anche se ormai solo virtuali. Analogamente in Vandorpe-Waebens 2009, partic. pp. 53-79, le
autrici hanno proceduto a collazionare tutti i documenti, ora dispersi, che in origine erano stati
conservati come archivi di alcune famiglie di Pathyris, secondo un metodo definito di archeolo-
gia museale.
3 Un’estrema sintesi delle complesse ricostruzioni dei nuclei identificabili nell’insieme di
circa 2.000 papiri che costituiscono il cosiddetto archivio di Zenone (meglio ‘archivi’ di Zenone)
si può leggere nel volumetto altamente divulgativo, ma assai preciso di Clarysse -Vandorpe
1995, partic. p. 31.
247
Copie, malacopie, copie d’ufficio ...
degli scribi di Kerkeosiris
4
. In effetti credo si possa ormai ritenere assodato che
la presenza di lettere o pro-memoria o conti di sicuro carattere privato, non sia
inconciliabile con accorpamenti pubblici da parte dei titolari di cariche, sia di
rango elevato sia di livello anche molto modesto
5
.
In questa sede perciò vorrei affrontare il tema della titolarità di un archivio,
cioè di un insieme di documenti deliberatamente raccolti e conservati in antico,
verificando proprio alcuni casi di raccolte legate alla realtà amministrativa che
sono state, per comodità o per fretta, attribuite a personaggi, i quali difficilmente
invece ne sono stati i titolari o i responsabili. Lo scopo è proprio quello di di-
mostrare come la natura dei cartonnages, prodotti con materiali di scarto, abbia
invece enfatizzato le caratteristiche dell’amministrazione tolemaica fissandola
proprio nella sola fase finale, nel momento in cui l’oggetto del suo intervento non
aveva più ragione di essere, anzi nel momento in cui i documenti diventavano
ormai superflui, e sottolineare la necessità di porsi alcune domande, meno fre-
quenti finora, ma indispensabili se si vogliono interpretare correttamente certi
testi.
Preliminarmente poi vorrei anche chiarire che è inoltre fondamentale cer-
care di attribuire una più corretta identità diplomatica a testi che sovente sono
frettolosamente definiti “malacopie” o “minute” (drafts), piuttosto che, più sem-
plicemente, “copie”, solo sulla base di una maggiore o minore eleganza calligrafi-
ca o correttezza ortografica nella loro stesura. Come si è detto, l’aggregazione di
testi sotto la denominazione “archivio di” è stata infatti fondamentale non solo
per orientarsi più facilmente tra i testi e all’interno di gruppi di essi, ma anche
per analizzare i processi amministrativi. Tuttavia dopo questo primo passo è ora
indispensabile operare un’analisi più accurata sotto il profilo diplomatico per
verificare la correttezza delle definizioni e di conseguenza la corretta interpre-
tazione ultima dei documenti: in sostanza, per ripercorrere più esattamente il
procedimento e la trafila dell’amministrazione. È evidente infatti che se si consi-
derano certi testi come prodotti diretti di un determinato autore, piuttosto che

4 Verhoogt 1998, pp. 24-32. Da quanto segue potrebbe essere utile in futuro un’ulteriore ri-
flessione anche sull’insieme di documenti provenienti dai cartonnages trovati a Tebtynis da
Grenfell e Hunt, molti dei quali, come quelli relativi ad Ossirinca, sembrano nel complesso
provenire più genericamente dall’ufficio/archivio di alcuni villaggi tout-court.
5 Cf. Van Beek 2007, p. 1039, che però propone una lettura di questi insiemi documentari
misti a mio avviso un po’ riduttiva: «A rigid distinction between public and private c.q. family
archive, however, is not possible; officials often kept part of their administrative papers when
retiring from office, merging them with their private correspondence». Una tale ricostruzione,
peraltro non dimostrata (si potrebbe altrettanto plausibilmente sostenere che erano le carte
private ad essere finite insieme a quelle pubbliche), comporta una valutazione dell’ammini-
strazione tolemaica come di un sistema quasi dilettantistico, in cui da una parte ognuno poteva
portarsi via i documenti, dall’altra ciascun singolo funzionario, detentore di un ufficio anche
nel villaggio più piccolo, faceva fronte ai propri impegni a casa propria, anche senza avere a
disposizione le carte necessarie lasciate dal predecessore.
248
copie di un altro, se ne può modificare la funzione o il significato
6
. Il fatto stes-
so che un documento pubblico possa essere stato conservato anche per decen-
ni dopo la sua redazione comporta inevitabilmente la necessità di valutarne il
perché, sia rispetto ai doveri che ogni funzionario doveva adempiere, sia rispetto
alle forme di controllo che lo stato evidentemente poteva attuare. Per contro, la
convinzione che un funzionario al termine del proprio mandato potesse portare
via i documenti relativi al suo incarico, dà della dimensione amministrativa elle-
nistica un’immagine piuttosto approssimativa e quasi amatoriale e rappresenta
un’oggettiva contraddizione con quanto sopra osservato.
Vorrei pertanto soffermarmi su alcuni casi a mio avviso significativi e co-
gliere l’occasione per ringraziare pubblicamente i responsabili e i collaboratori
delle iniziative che ci consentono questi ulteriori studi, vale a dire in particolare
papyri.info (http://www.papyri.info/), e tutte le piattaforme di database, ormai
ricchissime di testi e anche di immagini
7
.
Il problema di partenza risiede nella scelta dell’espressione “malacopia” abi-
tualmente utilizzata per connotare testi nei quali siano presenti errori, e so-
prattutto cancellature, soprascritture, correzioni. Questa parola però comporta
due conseguenze: la prima è che attribuisce a chi scrive, implicitamente ed au-
tomaticamente, la qualifica di ‘primo autore’ del testo stesso, e la seconda è che
non sempre è possibile giustificare il legame tra due testi, quando, come spesso
avviene, la ‘malacopia’ si trovi insieme (e particolarmente sul verso) ad un testo
diverso. Per le “copie” invece, il problema si affronta solo in quanto si conosca o si
deduca l’esistenza di un testo assolutamente uguale ad un originale di partenza:
per esempio dalla menzione in una petizione di altre copie della richiesta inviate
a funzionari diversi, oppure dalla presenza o riferimento sullo stesso foglio di
un altro testo chiamato “antigraphon” (“ti mando la copia della lettera che X ha
inviato ecc.”). In quest’ultimo caso si può parlare naturalmente di “copia d’uffi-
cio”, ovvero di una redazione che riproduceva, a cura di terzi, un originale, senza
l’intervento o la consapevolezza, e forse nemmeno il consenso, dell’autore.
Come si è detto i cartonnages spesso hanno restituito testi che per le modalità
di scrittura sono stati considerati come “malacopie”, ma che ad un più approfon-
dito esame, dovrebbero essere considerati invece come “copie d’ufficio”, cioè anti-
grapha, realizzati a cura di grammateis e per scopi di carattere burocratico.

6 Per fare un esempio abbastanza banale: la famosa “lettera di istruzioni” di un dieceta ad un
economo, P. Tebt. III, 703, giustamente definita “copy”, iscritta sul recto e sul verso di un papiro
frammentario, ben difficilmente sarà stata quella redatta ad Alessandria per l’economo dell’Ar-
sinoite, sebbene ovviamente il suo contenuto riporti quel testo. La scrittura e la stessa impagi-
nazione sui due lati del rotolo fanno piuttosto supporre che essa sia stata ri-copiata in un ufficio
periferico o per un ufficio periferico, ad uso anche di altri funzionari.
7 Un particolare ringraziamento devo anche a Todd Hickey, conservatore della collezione del-
la Bancroft Library, per la cortesia, e la tempestività con cui, nel momento in cui predisponevo
la prima versione di questo contributo, ha provveduto ad inviarmi le immagini di alcuni papiri
di Tebtynis non immediatamente accessibili.
249
Copie, malacopie, copie d’ufficio ...
La necessità di affrontare questo aspetto dell’interpretazione dei documenti
è sorta e si è presentata con evidenza allorché ho pubblicato gli ultimi papiri de-
nominati P. Med. Barelli che la prof. Orsolina Montevecchi mi aveva assegnato
8
.
L’insieme era stato acquistato alla fine degli anni ’70 del secolo scorso ed era stato
denominato, forse addirittura dallo stesso venditore, come archivio di Pankra-
tes. A mia conoscenza tutti coloro ai quali la Montevecchi affidò la pubblicazione
partirono dal presupposto sottolineato dalla studiosa che i testi fossero «forse in
origine incollati l’uno appresso all’altro a formare un rotolo»
9
. La frequente men-
zione di Pankrates, un o nço; t¸; ocvtzçc: attivo intorno alla metà del II secolo
a.C., come destinatario contribuì a orientare la comune opinione verso l’ipotesi
di trovarsi di fronte ai documenti raccolti nel suo ufficio. Ad essi inoltre si dove-
vano aggiungere alcuni altri documenti frammentari conservati nella collezione
di Lille e pubblicati all’incirca negli stessi anni da Boyaval
10
. I papiri più ampi e
leggibili sono stati ormai tutti editi
11
. Ne restano forse due o tre di una consisten-
za apprezzabile, oltre a numerosi altri testi più frammentari, che però continua-
no ad attendere un’edizione, anche sommaria. Dei papiri da me letti due erano
petizioni di un medesimo personaggio di nome Ptolemaios a Pankrates
12
, quasi
a confermare la tesi che appartenessero al suo archivio. A proposito del primo
caso però, un documento iscritto solo sul recto, osservavo: «in apparenza sembra
trattarsi di una minuta per l’assenza della data, che però potrebbe essere andata
perduta nella parte mancante del papiro»
13
; di essa però esisteva anche l’inizio di
una copia, apparentemente della stessa mano, con un vistoso errore proprio nel
nome del funzionario (Hcyçztc:, P. Med. Bar. 10, l. 1 = SB 18, 13096). Era anche
questa una malacopia, dato il marchiano errore? Nel secondo caso invece mi tro-
vai di fronte ad una realtà più complessa: il protagonista della petizione scritta
sul recto, il cleruco Ptolemaios, compariva infatti, a proposito della stessa questio-
ne, anche in altri 2 documenti del cosiddetto archivio, scritti rispettivamente sul
recto e sul verso di un altro papiro, e probabilmente era autore anche di una terza
petizione
14
. Un altro elemento che pareva confermare l’identificazione dell’uffi-
cio di Pankrates come luogo di destinazione e dunque di raccolta dei papiri era

8 Si tratta dei papiri editi in Criscuolo 2004, che concludono la pubblicazione dei testi più
estesi tra quelli di questo gruppo acquistati dall’Università Cattolica.
9 Montevecchi 1981, p. 251.
10 Boyaval 1988, p. 105 e nota 2, con bibliografia precedente.
11 Si veda la lista in Criscuolo 2004, nota *.
12 SB 18, 13095 e P. Med. Bar. 3 recto in Criscuolo 2004.
13 Cf. l’editio princeps in «Aegyptus», 66, 1986, p. 24.
14 Si tratta di SB 16, 12721 (P. Med. Bar. 2v), petizione ad Apollodoro, epistates e grammateus dei
cavalieri catecici, e dell’ancora inedito P. Med. Bar. 2r, petizione sempre a Pankrates. A questi
documenti rinviava anche l’editrice di P. Med. Bar. 3v, SB 18, 13097, petizione di cui però manca
il prescritto con l’indirizzo e il nome dell’autore.
250
che la mano di tutti questi documenti era la stessa
15
: il cleruco aveva evidente-
mente tempestato di missive Pankrates, che diligentemente le aveva conservate.
Dunque che dubbi possono esserci su questa ricostruzione? A dire la verità
molti: anzitutto uno dei documenti in questione, SB 16, 12721, iscritto sul verso
di una petizione a Pankrates, non era indirizzato a Pankrates ma ad un epistates
di nome Apollodoro. Certo Ptolemaios poteva aver copiato per Pankrates anche
la petizione inviata ad un altro funzionario, ma come spiegare la sciatteria, pur
nella correttezza grammaticale e sintattica, con cui entrambi i documenti erano
stati scritti
16
? La risposta veniva in realtà da un altro testo dell’archivio, il P. Med.
Bar. 14 = SB 16, 12722, la lettera accompagnatoria di Pankrates ad un certo Petesou-
chos, sfortunatamente un personaggio ignoto, che diceva “Ti abbiamo inviato la
copia dell’hypomnema consegnato a noi da Ptolemaios…”. Certo gli hypomnemata
erano stati più di uno
17
, ma evidentemente l’ultimo destinatario di questi papiri
non era stato Pankrates e la mano che aveva scritto i testi che noi leggiamo non
era quella di Ptolemaios, ma di uno scriba dell’ufficio dell’ o nço; t¸; ocvtzçc:.
Questo però poteva spiegare assai meglio perché nel cosiddetto archivio accanto
a queste petizioni indirizzate a Pankrates e a documenti in cui egli veniva men-
zionato, ci fossero testi per contenuto totalmente estranei all’ufficio di questo
funzionario militare: non era lui che aveva conservato i papiri e non era da lui
che i papiri erano stati eliminati per finire in cartonnages, ma da coloro che li
avevano ricevuti in copia, presumibilmente cioè i funzionari locali del villaggio
che, questo sì, compare direttamente o indirettamente, in tutti i testi: Ossirinca.
Ecco perché già nell’edizione del P. Med. Bar. 3r proposi di non considerare più
come ‘minute’ i documenti, solo perché apparivano iscritti affrettatamente, con
poca cura, e spesso utilizzando abbreviazioni proprio per le denominazioni dei
funzionari, ed ecco perché soprattutto suggerii di identificare come luogo ultimo
di raccolta proprio un ufficio di Ossirinca, una sede amministrativa di più fun-
zionari con competenza su quel villaggio e su quelli ad esso collegati
18
.
Alla luce di queste considerazioni può essere interessante saggiare, per casi

15 Cf. anche nell’editio princeps di SB 18, 13097, in «Aegyptus», 66, 1986, p. 31.
16 Sciatteria che naturalmente ha condotto a definire il papiro già edito, cioè il verso, come
“abbozzo di una petizione”, cf. editio princeps in «Aegyptus», 63, 1983, p. 18.
17 Cf. sicuramente SB 18, 13095, P. Med. Bar. 3 recto in Criscuolo 2004, P. Med. Bar. 2r ined.; a
cui forse si può aggiungere SB 18, 13097.
18 Cf. Criscuolo 2004, p. 11; ad una conclusione simile è giunto anche Clarysse 2008, p. 65,
ma con Clarysse non sono d’accordo che ci fosse più di un ufficio per ciascun villaggio (per
esempio un ufficio dei basilikoi georgoi, ibid., p. 68) ai quali tornavano in copia, da altri uffici
per lo più di livello superiore, i documenti che da lì erano partiti, come le petizioni di singoli,
o che ad esso erano relativi; penso che ci fosse una sede unica per le carte di tutti i funzionari
di villaggio, e che da lì i fogli di papiri, forse dopo parecchi anni, venissero prelevati per finire
nei cartonnages. Di recente, cf. Jördens 2008, è stata data notizia di un archivio, da cartonnage,
relativo a Busiris che parrebbe, pur dalla sommaria descrizione, rappresentare una situazione
abbastanza simile, con petizioni indirizzate a differenti funzionari del villaggio.
251
Copie, malacopie, copie d’ufficio ...
simili, se le descrizioni di papiri definiti come “malacopie” (drafts) possano corri-
spondere effettivamente a minute, e verificare le attribuzioni che sono state date
ad archivi, quando i testi provengano da cartonnages: come si vedrà in qualche
caso ci sono molte ragioni per rivedere queste definizioni o attribuzioni.
Un caso piuttosto curioso è per esempio quello dell’archivio di Philô: si tratta
di 4 papiri, i P. Koeln 5, 222-225, tutti collegati a questa donna, vedova di Hexakon,
un amministratore della dorea di Galestes nell’Herakleopolites, anche in questo
caso, come per i documenti di Pankrates, alla fine degli anni ’40 del II secolo
19
. Il
fatto che tutti e 4 siano iscritti sul verso di papiri che non hanno altri testi iscritti
sul recto, se non a volte “tracce di lettere” (probabile indizio del lavaggio), di per
sé potrebbe trovare giustificazione proprio nella conservazione di copie per uso
personale all’interno della famiglia di Philô. Ma solo il P. Koeln. 5, 223 è la petizio-
ne di Philô al dieceta (e tra l’altro non si tratta decisamente di una minuta, a meno
di non considerare Philô come una scriba di alta professionalità), mentre gli altri
tre sono chiaramente testi d’ufficio che la nominano e fanno riferimento alla sua
situazione fiscale: come mai allora sarebbero arrivati tra le sue carte? Quanto pri-
ma osservato per i testi di Pankrates, penso sia utile anche qui: i documenti sono
sì relativi alla questione sollevata da Philô, ma non sono mai stati tra le sue carte.
Essi, copiati in uffici differenti (uno, il P. Koeln 5, 222, probabilmente proprio in
quello del dieceta), sono poi stati messi insieme in quello del villaggio di riferi-
mento, dal funzionario o dai funzionari che dovevano procedere all’applicazione
di quanto deciso dalle autorità superiori.
Analogamente, anche un altro piccolo gruppo di “malacopie” (drafts) che con-
tengono lettere a funzionari, si può prestare a qualche osservazione. P. Tebt. 3,
732, 733 e 734 infatti sono stati tracciati, secondo gli editori, dalla stessa mano
sul verso di altri documenti
20
e sono indirizzati rispettivamente al dieceta Sara-
pion, all’epimelete Apollonios e di nuovo a questi (P. Tebt. 3, 734, fr. 1) e al suo
successore Ptolemaios (P. Tebt. 3, 734, fr. 2), attivi nell’Arsinoites alla fine degli
anni ’40 del II secolo e attestati da documenti rinvenuti sempre nei cartonna-
ges di Tebtynis
21
. Anche questi papiri provengono dai cartonnages rinvenuti a
Tebtynis, e in particolare dalla medesima mummia di coccodrillo n. 26. Da questa
stessa viene inoltre P. Tebt. 3, 735, un resoconto di arretrati dovuti nel villaggio di

19 Per la figura di Galestes come detentore della dorea menzionata nei papiri cf. Criscuolo
1986; sull’archivio, per il quale già si prospetta un’attribuzione non imperniata sulla figura di
Philô, vd. ora il sito http://www.trismegistos.org/arch/archives/pdf/265.pdf. Inoltre le fotogra-
fie dei 4 papiri sono ora accessibili nel sito http://www.uni-koeln.de/phil-fak/ifa/NRWakade-
mie/papyrologie/Karte/band5.html.
20 Riproduzioni fotografiche, di quasi tutti i papiri editi e dei loro recto, sono consultabili di-
rettamente da www.papyri.info; i testi, nella descrizione degli editori , «are closely connected,
being draft reports on various subjects to superior officials, hastily written in the same rather
coarse hand on the back of other documents».
21 Cf. Sarapion, Pros. Ptol. I, 46 e VIII, 46; Apollonios, Pros. Ptol. I, 935 e VIII, 935; Ptolemaios,
Pros. Ptol. I, 955.
252
Areos Kome, parimenti indirizzato all’epimelete Apollonio, ugualmente definito
come “draft”, ma scritto sul recto di un papiro precedentemente già utilizzato e la-
vato per essere scritto nuovamente. Sebbene gli editori non abbiano fatto osser-
vazioni in merito, la fotografia permette di constatare che la scrittura è del tutto
simile a quella dei tre verso ai numeri precedenti, come pure la particolare forma
di abbreviazione del titolo di Apollonios
22
. Il fatto di essere scritti su papiri nel
loro secondo utilizzo ha portato a considerarli come “malacopie”, prime stesure
di testi che avrebbero ricevuto una redazione più decorosa e corretta. Ma restano
aperti due interrogativi: chi fu l’autore di queste “malacopie” e sono veramente
“malacopie”?
P. Tebt 3, 732 ha sul recto un documento inedito. Di questo si sa però che vi si
menzionava un raccolto e una distribuzione di viveri. P. Tebt. 3, 733 ha sul recto
invece il n. 956 (inedito descritto), un’altra richiesta o lettera, concernente forse
un appalto, che si conclude in calce con la richiesta di fare indagini indirizzata
forse ad un basilicogrammateo, che però dovrebbe essere stato in carica nell’He-
rakleopolites, nonché con l‘ordine impartito, forse ad un subordinato, di copiar-
la
23
. Infine P. Tebt. 3, 734 ha come recto il n. 1007 (inedito descritto), un testo assai
frammentario concernente sementi, forse un conto che però menziona due vil-
laggi della meris di Themistos. Il tenore delle 4 lettere ad epimeleti, P. Tebt. 3, 733,
734 (fr. 1 e 2) e 735, oltre ai testi nei recto, fa pensare ad un funzionario al livello di
nomo che si rivolge ad un suo collega, epimelete. Gli editori ipotizzarono un ba-
silicogrammateo
24
, si potrebbe proporre anche un economo, ma il vero problema
è se i 4 testi siano veramente malacopie stilate dal basilicogrammateo o dall’eco-
nomo, ovvero nel loro ufficio. Anzitutto le forme di indirizzo non corrispondono
al modo con cui ci si rivolge tra funzionari, soprattutto se parigrado: solitamente
infatti nella forma epistolare non si riporta il titolo, oppure, negli hypomnema-
ta, il titolo compare in forma completa e soprattutto corredato dalla titolatura
aulica, che qui manca completamente. È vero che in una malacopia non è detto
che si rispetti del tutto quanto poi si scriverà nel testo definitivo, ma è comun-
que un dato significativo, dal momento che è costante. C’è infatti un’annotazione
in testa al fr. 1 di P. Tebt. 3, 734 che, in questa forma, suscita qualche dubbio
25
:
zv(c:ì¸ntz:?) (ctoc;) ×Ð Hz¿(av) ¸, “ricevuta l’8 di Pachon dell’anno 29”. Ma

22 A onor del vero in quest’ultimo papiro la prima linea, in cui ci sarebbe l’indirizzo con il
nome del funzionario e il titolo, è attualmente del tutto illeggibile, e solo pallidamente, cono-
scendo la trascrizione, si può scorgere forse la sopralineatura della my con cui questo scriba
abbreviava il titolo di cn(:)µ(cì¸t¸;).
23 Cf. ll. 14-15: Açovvaççc:. ,¸t¸o [ov]. Tc (¸:) :;. Uça:. zvt:yç (z¦z:(?)). Tc (¸:) :;. Secondo
gli editori Aronnophris potrebbe essere il basilicogrammateo dell’Herakleopolites.
24 Peraltro il contenuto dei recto, si adatta molto bene anche ad un ufficio di funzionari legati
all’amministrazione dei monopoli, come l’economo o, appunto, l’epimelete.
25 La foto non consente di vedervi una seconda mano, come riportato in www.papyri.info, né
gli editori hanno fatto questa affermazione. La mano a mio avviso è la stessa, solo le dimensioni
delle lettere sono assai più piccole.
253
Copie, malacopie, copie d’ufficio ...
perché si dovrebbe fare una simile annotazione su una malacopia? E perché con-
cludere questa malacopia con un’altra annotazione abbreviata: “cn(ctzçz) t¸v
cn(:otoì¸v)”, “ho allegato la lettera”? Mi pare dunque che si possa dare un’inter-
pretazione diversa di questi documenti. Si tratta piuttosto di ‘copie d’ufficio’ pre-
disposte per conservare memoria di quanto era stato inviato, per le quali era im-
portante mantenere l’indicazione anche abbreviata, sia dei destinatari, sia, come
nel P. Tebt. 3, 734, degli eventuali allegati che avevano accompagnato l’invio. In
tal caso l’annotazione in testa al P. Tebt. 3, 734 potrebbe forse essere interpretato
come “zv(t:yçzçov)” oppure ancor meglio “zv(cyvaotz:
26
)”. E di ‘copie d’ufficio’
(questa volta presumibilmente allegate ad accompagnatorie e forse ritornate ad
un ufficio periferico) si tratta per i due documenti che hanno reso possibile la
ricostruzione dell’enteuxis di un basilikos georgos di Ossirinca, P. Tebt. 3, 771, di cui
appunto sono state trovate nel cartonnage di provenienza due versioni danneg-
giate, ma integrabili: l’una tracciata con una scrittura estremamente elegante, ac-
curata, quasi libraria e con un’impaginazione perfetta, l’altra scorrevole e sicura,
ma decisamente assai meno curata.
Un altro articolato insieme di documenti da cartonnage è quello che viene
comunemente ascritto al basilicogrammateo dell’Herakleopolites Dionysios, do-
cumenti conservati principalmente ad Heidelberg e nella collezione dell’Univer-
sità Cattolica di Milano. Mentre il primo gruppo è stato pubblicato recentemen-
te nel volume IX della raccolta dei P. Heid. con il titolo Papyri aus dem Archiv des
königlichen Schreibers Dionysios, il piccolo nucleo di Milano resta sostanzialmente
inedito. Tuttavia da una rapidissima ricognizione a questo gruppo ho potuto con-
statare almeno un dato interessante
27
, e cioè che su 46 frammenti, alcuni molto
piccoli, di documenti in gran parte amministrativi, 17 risultano scritti sul verso
di testi che non hanno più scrittura sul recto
28
, il che corrisponde a più di un terzo
circa: una percentuale piuttosto alta, che potrebbe trovare la sua giustificazione
proprio nella pratica di redigere copie su documenti inutili o resi inutilizzabili,
come nel caso dei documenti di Philô. Ma già i papiri della raccolta di Heidel-
berg presentano una casistica notevole: alcuni di essi infatti sono chiaramente
indirizzati al basilicogrammateo Dionysios, altri fatti pervenire a lui già in copia

26 Cf. l’annotazione che compare oltre che in P. Heid. IX, 425, 428, anche in P. Berl. Salmen. 10-
12 e 15, 17; P. Mert. 2, 59; P. Ryl. 2, 65, UPZ I, 118.
27 Ringrazio la prof. Carla Balconi che mi ha concesso di vedere gli originali. Ho potuto quindi
ispezionare i papiri che però sono ancora nella stessa situazione in cui si trovavano al momento
dell’acquisto, cioè appoggiati a cartone, sotto plexiglas. Non è stato possibile quindi verificare il
lato opposto di quello visibile, presumibilmente privo di scrittura. Solo tre documenti del grup-
po sono finora stati editi, SB 22, 15213; 24, 15896 e P. Sijp. 10a. Sull’insieme dei testi vd. Daris
1995.
28 Solitamente nel caso i papiri avessero testo su entrambi i lati, venivano venduti in modo
che fosse visibile, quindi dato che tutti questi sono appoggiati su cartoncino bianco non do-
vrebbero avere testo apprezzabile: va da sé che sarebbe auspicabile poter verificare se erano
comunque stati utilizzati.
254
per conoscenza, e conservati, talora dopo essere stati a loro volta inoltrati ad altri
funzionari
29
. In questi casi si tratta veramente di copie effettuate per l’uso del ba-
silicogrammateo, come riferimento delle questioni sbrigate
30
. È interessante che
spesso compaia, in calce ad una copia di testo di inoltro, anche l’indicazione de-
gli altri funzionari ai quali doveva essere inviata una copia, o comunque notizia,
dell’affare in questione
31
: ciò consente di avere un’idea ragionevolmente fondata
sulla dimensione della produzione documentale che gli uffici tolemaici realizza-
vano: per esempio per ciascuno dei casi illustrati dai documenti che partivano da
petizioni di singoli, si possono calcolare almeno altre 4 copie, inclusa quella con-
servata dall’ufficio, cioè tre altri funzionari (per esempio, lo stratego, l’epistates
e l’archiphylakites). Se poi ciascuno degli altri funzionari a sua volta riproduceva
almeno una volta lo stesso testo e come minimo dava riscontro o assenso al ba-
silicogrammateo, si può arrivare facilmente ad un numero tra i 10 e i 20 testi che
venivano generati dal sistema
32
.
Naturalmente una revisione completa di tutta la documentazione provenien-
te da cartonnage, nella quale siano individuabili nuclei omogenei di testi perti-
nenti agli stessi funzionari o villaggi, potrebbe fornire ancora altri esempi delle
pratiche d’ufficio, sia per quanto concerne le annotazioni, particolarmente atten-
te alla cronologia dei documenti oltre che alla definizione dei contenuti, sia sulle
modalità di espletamento delle pratiche, e consentirebbe forse di collocare anche
meglio, nella filiera burocratica, alcuni di questi piccoli archivi. Per il momento
in questa sede mi pare ci si debba limitare a due principali conclusioni.
La prima è che la convinzione secondo la quale un documento pubblico e re-
datto da scribi fosse prodotto secondo alti standard professionali (senza cancel-
lature, ripensamenti, correzioni ecc.) e debba essere valutato perciò come i docu-
menti delle amministrazioni pubbliche moderne, va rivista, almeno per quanto
concerne l’amministrazione a livello di nomo o più in basso. Gli scribi degli uf-
fici avevano sicuramente una buona manualità e, sovente, una certa sicurezza
nell’indicare anche con abbreviazioni e sintesi, aspetti più formulari, peraltro
facilmente leggibili, ma non avevano nessuno scrupolo a correggere, aggiunge-
re, cancellare testi perfino se questi venivano poi spediti al di fuori del proprio
ufficio. Non basta perciò che un papiro si presenti sciatto o pieno di correzioni
per considerarlo una ‘malacopia’.

29 Per esempio P. Heid. IX, 422, 423, 425, 431 in cui Dionysios è indicato come diretto destina-
tario, o 428 in cui invece si fa solo allusione, in testi indirizzati ad altri funzionari, a notifiche
ricevute.
30 Così li interpreta l’editrice, P. Heid. IX, pp. 5 ss.
31 Cf. P. Heid. IX, 423, ll. 23-24; 431, ll. 37-41.
32 Una serie di copie di documenti partiti dall’ufficio di un basilicogrammateo è stata identifi-
cata nei P. Berl. Salmen. 10-17, datati al I secolo a.C., che offrono anche alcuni aspetti diplomatici
piuttosto simili a quelli dell’ufficio del basilicogrammateo Dionysios.
255
Copie, malacopie, copie d’ufficio ...
La seconda conclusione è che la produzione e l’archiviazione di documenti in
copia (propria o altrui) è probabilmente un fenomeno più frequente e diffuso di
quanto finora non si sia considerato nella ricostruzione dei processi amministra-
tivi; questa pratica è stata spesso attribuita piuttosto agli utenti (autori di petizio-
ni, coltivatori, contribuenti ecc.), mentre, come si è visto, molte di queste copie
venivano predisposte all’interno degli uffici. Questo fenomeno per contro può
complicare l’identificazione dell’ultima destinazione di un documento e quindi
dell’archivio da cui ci è arrivato, che non necessariamente coincideva con quelli
dei personaggi che compaiono al suo interno.

256
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a Colloquium on Thebes and the
Theban Area in the Graeco-Roman
Period, ed. S. P. Vleeming, Leiden
1995, pp. 91-100.
Scheuble 2010
S. Scheuble, Quittung für
Grapheiongebühren (¸;zaazt:×z )
(P.UB Trier S 78-12), «APF», 56/1,
2010, pp. 51-58.
Van Beek 2007
B. Van Beek, Ancient Archives and
Modern Collections. The Leuven
Homepage of Papyrus Archives
and Collections, in: Proceedings of
the 24
th
International Congress of
Papyrology, Helsinki, 1-7 August
2004, edd. J. Frösén et al.,
Helsinki 2007, pp. 1033-1044.
Vandorpe 2009
K. Vandorpe, Archives and
Dossiers, in: The Oxford Handbook
of Papyrology, ed. R. Bagnall,
Oxford 2009, pp. 216-255.
Vandorpe-Waebens 2009
K. Vandorpe-S. Waebens,
Reconstructing Pathyris Archives.
A Multicultural Community in
Hellenistic Egypt, Brussel 2009.
Verhoogt 1998
A. M. F.W. Verhoogt, Menches,
Komogrammateus of Kerkeosiris.
The Doings and Dealings of a
Village Scribe in the Late Ptolemaic
Period (120-110 B.C.), Leiden 1998.
259
reflections on reconstructing private and official archives
The three papers in this session have covered very diverging aspects of archives
and archive keeping, from found to reconstructed, from private to official, from
original (in the sense of the archive document itself) to copy (in the widest sense
of the word, including ‘publication’).
Ingo Kottsieper has presented us some examples of private archives, which,
as he has convincingly demonstrated, deal with very specific private matters.
Rather than just ‘general papers’ they turn out to be collections of documents
relevant for a legal problem of their owner. This problem often concerns money
and property, of course.
Thus we have seen the documents selected by Jedanja to prove that every-
thing he inherited from his parents really belonged to him; or the couple Anani
and Jehoišhma, for whom documents proving the legal status of the woman
were an essential part of the archive, again because they could prove her right to
possess property. The two cases illustrate nicely that it is essential for the study
of a private archive to reconstruct the last owner, i.e. the person for whom the
documents have meaning and legal value. It is in fact only when the last owner
is identified by the historian (or philologist) that everything suddenly ‘fits’: one
could compare it with a detective story which features a great multitude of clues.
These clues do not actually make sense until the proverbial Hercule Poirot (a Bel-
gian!) gathers everyone at the end of the book and in a lengthy exposé informs
Reflections on
Reconstructing Private
and Official Archives
mark depauw
260
everyone who is the killer and why. As a matter of fact, there are more similarities
between the detective and the scholar in this case: they also face similar prob-
lems in identifying what is evidence and what is not. It is clear from Kottsieper’s
survey that identifying which documents are part of the archive and which are
not is often problematic. In fact, this question runs parallel with the identifica-
tion of the owner and purpose of the archive, just like the metamorphosis of a
fact into a clue is essential when a detective determines who did it and why.
This brings us to the longstanding discussion of the definition of an archive,
1

which was briefly touched upon by Lucia Criscuolo: ‘What is an archive? What is
a dossier? Should we study one or the other?’. Here I think – and I hope to please
everyone by saying this – that everyone is right. Of course a historian should use
all available evidence when reconstructing a historical fact, and thus dossiers are
essential. But on the other hand Kottsieper’s and Criscuolo’s papers have illus-
trated once more that reconstructing an archive – with its (last) owner and its
‘raison d’être’ – can give us a much deeper insight. In this case the archive sud-
denly becomes ‘alive’, and a ‘tranche de vie’ appears before us.
Reconstructing such a collection of documents is often difficult. In the ideal
situation the set is found during official excavations, nicely wrapped and other-
wise protected, with perfectly preserved texts. This seems like an archival schol-
ar’s wet dream, but once in a while it does in fact occur. Thus the Demotic archive
of Totoes was found in Deir el-Medina as the content of two sealed jars.
2
Second best is the case of the archive now kept in Brussels, purchased in the
early 70ies, with papyri still wrapped in linen.
3
A package with three large con-
tracts concerning the sale of a specific house by a woman called Setjairetbinet
alias Taba, and two packages with smaller documents, some of which concern the
same sale transaction. Yet other of the smaller documents deal with very differ-
ent matters by a necropolis worker called Djedher. In fact, it is only because we
know from other sources that these two people were married and had children
that we know this must be their private archive. The collection of papers only
then makes sense.
But even in this case, where we have ample background information, ques-
tions remain: thus the business papers of the husband do not form a coherent
whole: they seem entirely unrelated to each other and to his wife’s papers record-
ing the sale transaction. If we did not have the physical evidence that they belong
together, scholars no doubt would have refrained from reconstructing them into
a single archive. In this case, even with the physical evidence little ‘sense’ can
apparently be made of this part of the archive. Why would a busy businessman

1 For a recent survey of the discussion and the terminology used, see Vandorpe 2009, esp. pp.
217-219.
2 Botti 1967, vol. 1, p. IX. See also Vandorpe 2009, p. 223.
3 Depauw 2000, pl. 1-5.
261
reflections on reconstructing private and official archives
keep only a few receipts for different taxes and a letter apparently unrelated to it?
It illustrates the inherent danger in reconstructing private archives which deal
with a specific purpose, i.e. that scholars throw out other items because they do
not fit in. In a way the scholar has to do this, because like the detective he needs
a motive to solve the murder, and unrelated facts are useless to this purpose. But
still the person who turned out to be guilty also had a life outside his crime. The
writer of detective stories will not focus on that and perhaps even make abstrac-
tion of it entirely. But it was still there and may have left its traces. Even some-
thing that does not fit in can still be part of an archive.
The Brussels archive is also interesting in precisely the opposite respect: i.e.
the danger that documents which were physically not part of the archive but fit-
ted in nicely are reconstructed as being part of the archive. Compare it to the
detective who at the end finds the solution to the puzzle and identifies the killer,
but suddenly sees clues everywhere, many of which may actually be facts totally
unrelated to the crime. Paradoxically some of the facts which are not related to
the crime – and are thus in a sense ‘false clues’ – can even help to solve the puz-
zle.
4
To come back to the concrete: the Brussels archive has been claimed by some
to be incomplete in the sense that another document thought to be part of it was
already known seventy years earlier, in casu the marriage contract of Setjairet-
bint and Djedher, known since 1900.
5
At first sight it seems inevitable that this
item belongs to the archive, thus ruining its closed character and making the
scholar wonder what other items may belong to it. But in fact a logical principle
(reconstructed by Pestman on the basis of other archives) saves the integrity: a
wife tends to keep her marriage contract, which contains commitments from
her spouse, in a safe place where malignant husbands have no control over it,
e.g. in the house of her parents or of other family members such as brothers.
6
This always reminds me of the novel The Quincunx by Charles Palliser, where
the search for documents (the last will and a codicil modifying it) illustrates how
important ownership of a document is in a system where claims were not cen-
trally registered. Whoever owned a document could destroy it, thus effectively
annihilating the claims and rights it contained. So in fact it is rather unlikely or
actually very improbable that the marriage document was preserved in the Brus-
sels archive after all. This again illustrates the importance of reconstructing an
archive for the Sitz-im-Leben of the documents – and vice versa.
What I have said so far relates mostly to private archives. But what about pub-
lic archives? Are they similar? Or completely different? Well, first of all we must
probably problematize the distinction private – public/official itself, at least to a

4 As William of Baskerville is led to the perpetrator by a false hypothesis in U. Eco, The Name
of the Rose.
5 See e.g. Muhs 1996, p. 15 and n. 40, corrected in Muhs 2008, esp. pp. 38-39 n. 22 & 33.
6 See Pestman 1961, pp. 83-86; Muhs 2008, p. 38 n. 22; and Depauw 2000, p. 11.
262
certain extent. It is true that everyone in antiquity – and each of us today – has a
private side to his life and a public, ‘official’ one. We work as scholars for a uni-
versity and everything which relates to our office is ‘official’. Yet we are also hu-
mans and our professional interaction is only one aspect of our social life. Often
the two cannot be distinguished neatly in our lives, and we should probably not
expect the ancients to be more ‘politically correct’ in this respect than we are.
Perhaps letters in particular illustrate the problematic distinction between pri-
vate and official: within a single letter people switch from business to official to
private. So much so, that when my colleague Willy Clarysse urged me to make
this distinction in my book on Demotic letters,
7
I tried but in the end decided
against it. It is often almost impossible to draw the line (although it is good to
try to draw it!).
8
For us, conflicts of the private and the official are often problematic and pain-
ful: imagine a hopeless student who turns out to be the son of a friend, or a judge
who presides the trial of someone he knows very well. It is an interesting ques-
tion whether in antiquity people were less strict in this. Probably hierarchy and
‘knowing someone’ were even more important than today – and caused less prob-
lems. A nice example of this mix of official and private, other than the Menches
archive already mentioned by Criscuolo or the Nakhthor archive mentioned by
Kottsieper, is the Zenon archive. Like the Aramaic Nakhthor archive, the Zenon
archive includes the archive of Panakestor, his ‘official’ predecessor (as private
manager!). But it also contains evidence for Zenon’s private business dealings ‘on
the side’, which were probably not ‘illegal’ – and the term is very anachronistic
here. Whether this lends the Ptolemaic administration something ‘approxima-
tive’ or even ‘amateuristic’ (in Criscuolo’s words) is an interesting question.
An extra problem when dealing with official and public archives is that these
apparently are far less likely to survive the tooth of time than their private coun-
terparts. This is probably inherent to their nature: since they had to be public,
they had to be in some way at least occasionally accessible to people who wanted
to consult them, and thus could less easily be preserved in a safe place far away
from every disturbance, surviving thousands of years.
9
In fact, with the excep-
tion of inscribed copies to which I will return later, in Egypt these more official
archives indeed particularly seem to be preserved when they – paradoxically –
were thrown away or recycled into mummy cartonnage.
10
One can imagine the
problems this gives for the scholar who wants to reconstruct their original Sitz-
im-Leben, as Criscuolo convincingly demonstrates: there are a lot of clues here,

7 Depauw 2006, pp. 106-109.
8 For a typology, see Vandorpe 2009, pp. 231-237.
9 It is instructive that most of the Demotic family archives preserved are those of underta-
kers and other necropolis workers, who have access to tombs to safeguard their papers! See
Muhs 2008, esp. pp. 33-35.
10 See e.g. Cuvigny 2009, pp. 45-47.
263
reflections on reconstructing private and official archives
but also a lot of suspects and no clear motive! One could even say that the scholar
here is like a detective walking around in a battlefield, with bodies scattered
everywhere: no wonder people get confused as to which crime they should in-
vestigate first. As a result people tend to group documents on the basis of similar
names just as if they try to group bodies with similar wounds ...
Criscuolo’s paper is somewhat of an antidote to this exclusively prosopo-
graphic approach. She presents documents which have long been considered
drafts originally preserved in a private archive, but which are in her view ‘quick’
secondary copies for official purposes. In fact, she reconstructs not the archive of
an official (Pankrates) or even a group of officials (such as the basilikoi grammateis
of Areos Kome), but rather an official archive for all government officials in a
particular locality. A similar study of the diplomatics of the documents involved,
also shows the archive of Philo to be official rather than private, and again part
of the village archive. That such archives did in fact exist, is also suggested by
a set of documents which formed the subject of a paper at the congress of De-
motic studies in Oxford in 2011. Cary Martin presented an impressive collection
of rather large papyri with early Demotic letters which only recently appeared
on the market. Although the texts are clearly letters starting with the appropri-
ate epistolary formulae, there is something strange about them: they are written
on large sheets, which is atypical for Demotic letters, something I had already
noticed when I first saw the photographs.
11
But also, it turns out that on some
sheets more than one letter is present, sent by different people but apparently
written (or should I say copied) in the same hand. Here again it is an attractive
hypothesis to suppose that these documents are copies which were part of an of-
ficial archive, perhaps that of a village or town.
As Criscuolo shows, examining the evidence very carefully can help to recon-
struct the Sitz-im-Leben. It is not because a document is written in a rather care-
less hand and with spelling mistakes, that it has to be a preliminary draft written
by the author. She shows how these drafts in some – and perhaps many - cases
turn out to be rather the opposite: post-factum copies written by a third party for
bureaucratic or archival purposes. Indeed this conclusion may warrant the re-
examination of further archives to see whether the so-called drafts could not in
fact be rather careless copies, e.g. for Demotic the archive of Hor or the archive of
Medinet Madi, with the very long set of ostraca which has been identified by the
editor Menchetti as a draft for a petition.
12
Of course we should be very careful to
abuse this new interpretation and let it become a panacea: no doubt we will find
archives with drafts (all private?), just as others may turn out to be copies.

11 A photograph appeared in Pierre Bergé et associés. Vente aux enchères publiques Paris. Vente: Ar-
chéologie, Miniatures Orientales, Art de la Chine. Samedi 15 et Dimanche 16 octobre 2005, Paris 2005,
pp. 92-93 no. 374. See www.trismegistos.org/text/105770 or Enchoria 29 (2004/2005), p. 156 no.
285 [DL 29. 285].
12 Ray 1976; Menchetti 2005.
264
This raises the interesting question of standards of care (or quality control)
in an archive. Indeed visual impact seems to be important in legal documents,
at least in the original. Formal issues such as large format or careful layout en-
hance the appeal and thus probably also legal value of an agreement. A single
mistake could apparently sometimes lead to the production of an entirely new
copy (in the other English sense of the word this time).
13
It may not be a coinci-
dence that these formal aspects tend to become somewhat less important as the
centralisation of evidence proceeds. Perhaps systematic registration and archive
keeping by the authorities made it less important what the document looked like
or indeed made ownership of documents less important.
14
On the other hand
we should probably not underestimate the archive keeping of older societies. In
the corridors of the Demotic congress I talked to Kim Ryholt about some recent
research of his, and he pointed to archaeological evidence for large to very large
official archives of documents, already in the Old Kingdom.
15
It only makes us
wonder how much there once used to be, but is now lost.
The questions relating to standards of care and the no doubt immense amount
of evidence which has disappeared in the course of time brings me to the third
paper in this session, of Laura Boffo. She deals with what one could call ‘very’ of-
ficial or ‘real public’ archives, which unfortunately are only known to us through
extracts and copies (carefully executed this time) on stone. Her situation is not
enviable. To continue my whodunnit-simile: she is a detective walking around
on a battlefield where the bodies have long disappeared, and the only clue to the
murder is a commemorative inscription at the entrance. Little hope of finding
who is guilty of which crime here, but fascinating to see how big the battle must
have been and why it took place ...
To an Egyptologist it comes as no surprise that the king is present in these
archives: in Egypt the pharaoh, like God, is everywhere (and probably knows eve-
rything), to such an extent that questioning his presence almost seems blasphe-
mous. This of course is very different in Greece, where kings are what one could
call with an oxymoron something of an atavistic novelty. Kings brought with
them new types of documents which the archival administration in the poleis
had to cope with.
Here again money is important: fiscal obligations to the polis and to the king
must have caused administrative problems. This is not very different in hellen-
istic Egypt, where similar distinctions between sacerdotal and royal taxes and
perhaps military and royal taxes were made: it must have made life of officials

13 An example is P. Dem. Memphis 7 A-B (published in Martin et al 2009, pp. 145-152. See
www.trismegistos.org/text/43705).
14 Compare Depauw 2012.
15 K. Ryholt, oral communication.
265
reflections on reconstructing private and official archives
dealing with taxes in all these categories far from easy.
16
Here also you see trans-
fers from one category to the other and temporary exceptions, with all the dis-
cussions, conflicts and paperwork this entails. Expansions of the territory of the
poleis may have caused similar problems, which may be compared to changes
in borders of nomes in Egypt (e.g. because of the founding of a new city such as
Antinoupolis), about which relatively little is known. But fiscality (taxes) was not
the only area in which dealings with the king left their traces. Honours to the
king and other expenses had to be paid, from a special account or not, and feasts
for the royals could be registered officially, in ‘the holy book’ of each polis; royal
priesthoods were created and corresponding lists were made; new tribes were
created; etc..
Royal epistolography and royal diagrammata regarding all these matters en-
tered the polis archives and changed legal life. Officials were now obliged to take
both royal and polis legislation into account, and this may in many cases have
been somewhat of a puzzle. Anglo-Saxon common law with its precedents spon-
taneously comes to mind.
To make things even worse, royal dates were installed next to the local ones,
probably another thing to keep track of. The administration probably stuck to the
local calendar, but for correspondence with the king needed to keep track of the
royal system. The debate about using BCE and CE instead of BC and AD illustrates
how sensitive such symbols are, so no mistakes could be made here. On top of
that long term commitments were demanded by king, and he could also ask for
documents to be removed because privileges were revoked.
Of course epigraphy is selective in what it preserves for eternity (or at least
for long): favourable decisions are more likely to be inscribed than unfavourable
ones, but they must also have been present in the archives. Although they only
offer a glimpse, and not even an impartial one, these Greek inscriptions show us
what there must once have been. So many crimes that scholars would never have
had the time to solve them ...

16 For an introduction, see Falivene 2009, pp. 530-532.
266
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