Peter van Minnen

A Receipt for Tax Arrears from Hermopolis*

Plate 22

A completely preserved papyrus with a seal. The papyrus tapers towards the bottom. The lower part of the text was folded upwards three times, covering line 5; a strip of papyrus was then wound around the lower part; a seal was impressed over the strip; the rest of the text was then also folded upwards. The seal is visible on the back; so are impressions of the seal where it pressed against the folded papyrus. The description on the Michigan APIS site reads the seal as Ν, but it is a standing figure (in the middle) holding a scorpion (top right) [1] and surrounded by other animals including another scorpion (bottom left), a bird (bottom right), and perhaps a scarab (top left). [2]

The date of this tax receipt is based on the hand alone (see also the note on line 3 below). The whole text is written in one hand, which is not as neat as the ones that wrote similar receipts, wherever I have been able to locate an image of these. This tax receipt joins a series of such receipts, occasionally preserving a seal as here but invariably different ones. [3] These receipts originate from Hermopolis and date to the early Arab period. Many involve Menas the soldier as here. The most recent edition of such a receipt with full commentary is P.Pintaudi 27,[4] also from a 10 th indiction; even more recently published are P.Heid. X 455 (ind. 13) and 456 (undated). Menas the soldier is sometimes identified as Apa or Abba Menas, Menas son of Sarapammon, or even Menas brother of Loukas. Here, as in P.Lond. V 1743 (ind. 10), he is not the taxpayer himself but the intermediary for another taxpayer, here Victor (son of) Patk( )p( ).

The scribe and tax collector, Athanasios, is not the same as the notarios in SB XVI 13018, where the script is neater (see ZPE 50 [1983] Tafel IX), but could be the same as the scribe and tax collector in P.Lond. V 1738 (ind. 9), incidentally a receipt for a tax payment by Menas son of Sarapammon. The script of P.Lond. V 1738 (checked on a microfilm) is somewhat more upright, but has similar abbreviations.

“Thoth 28, 10th indiction. I received from Victor (son of) Patk( )p( ) from the remainder of his taxes of the sixth and seventh of the cycle of indictions 2 (two) one-solidus coins, which (amount) was given (to me) by Menas the soldier.

I, Athanasios, acknowledge the receipt of 2 (two) solidi.”

1. The name Πατκ( )π̣( ) is a patronymic or a nickname. The first abbreviation is probably to be expanded Πατκ(ουι), “the one of the little (feminine noun).” The second abbreviation has been tentatively read as a pi: it looks like a wobbly omicron with an overstroke, and the whole is written in one go and most likely represents one character.

2. Instead of λοιπ(ά)δ(ος), λοιπ(α)δ(αρίου) is also possible. Both words are occasionally written out in full. Whether the remainder is now paid in full is uncertain. Some editors take ἀπό (perhaps too) literally: “out of (but not exhaustively).”

3. The taxes are due for two consecutive indictions (6 and 7). In such cases ἰνδικτιόνων[5] is sometimes preceded by the definite article as here (see P.Merton I 46.12 [ca. 500]; P.Oxy. I 149 verso [572]; P.Oxy. XVI 2028.2 [VI]).

The payment of the remainder of these taxes is made in indiction 10, more than two and three years after they were due, which is more than in similar receipts. This may be a case where an individual taxpayers accumulated arrears for several years, but it is just possible that it reflects the more general difficulties with tax collection discussed by L. Casson, Tax Collection Problems in Early Arab Egypt, TAPA 69 (1938) 274–291 at 279–288. This would push the date of the text into the (early) eighth century.

An ἀρίθμιον νόμισμα is a solidus “by count,” a real coin and not an “accounting” solidus, as often maintained, hence the awkward translation “2 (two) one-solidus coins. See on this F. Morelli, Le monete d’oro contanti di SPP X 62 raddoppiato, ZPE 189 (2014) 218–224.

The raised theta of δ(ο)θ̣(έν) looks like a tau, but rather than assuming an orthographical error, I prefer to think that the scribe indicated the circle in the middle of the theta (written — + o) with a rather thin stroke here; earlier in the line he had indicated the circle in the middle of the theta much more conspicuously. The raised taus marking an abbreviation (of Βίκτ(ορος) in line 1 and of ἕκτ(ης) in line 2) do not seem to have a stroke in the middle.

4. στρατιώτου is to be taken cum grano salis. Menas was not a member of the Arab military, but more like a messenger on the model of the earlier σύμμαχοι. See P.Pintaudi, p. 133, n. 7.

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University of Cincinnati
Department of Classics
410 Blegen Library
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0226, USA

Peter van Minnen

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Tafel 22

* I would like to thank Monica Tsuneishi for the images and the anonymous readers of Tyche for their helpful comments.

[1] For scorpions on such seals see A.-K. Wassiliou, Siegel und Papyri. Das Siegelwesen in Ägypten von römischer bis in früharabische Zeit , Wien 1999, nos. 9, 22, and 34.

[2] In E. Zwierlein-Diehl, Antike Gemmen und ihr Nachleben, Berlin, New York 2007, Abb. 787, a so-called Bes Pantheos (Harpocrates) is holding a scorpion. There is also a scarab to the left. This is a much bigger, magical amulet from the second (perhaps early third) century. The much smaller stone used for the seal on P.Mich. inv. 1055 would most likely not have been a magical amulet, but could well have been as old.

[3] I have checked P.Lond. V 1738, 1743, and 1749 on a microfilm. SB VIII 9759 is illustrated in Études de Papyrologie 8 (1957) pl. VII following p. 40, and P.Pintaudi 27 on pl. XXVII in the edition. The sealed portions of P.Lond. V 1738, 1743, and 1749 and SB VIII 9759 had not been opened when they were photographed. The seal in P.Pintaudi 27 is a case of Untersiegelung.

[4] SB XVIII 13737 mentioned there is now PUG V 214 (ind. 9), P.Iand. inv. 18 recto is now SB XXVIII 17225 (undated), and P.Monts.Roca inv. 199 and 498 are now P.Monts.Roca IV 74 (ind. 11) and 75 (ind. 12).

[5] P.Lond. V 1738 concerns the arrears for three indictions. The abbreviation in line 3 should therefore be expanded as ἰνδ(ικτιόνων), not ἰνδ(ικτίονος) as in the DDBDP.