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Last Updated on 05 Jan 2019

Author: Mario C.D. Paganini

CAPInv. 1316: hoi en Philadelpheia Arabes


i. Geographical area Egypt
ii. Nome Arsinoites (00)
iii. Site Philadelpheia


i. Full name (original language) οἱ ἐν Φιλαδελφείαι Ἄραβες (PSI V 538, ll. 1-1)
ii. Full name (transliterated) hoi en Philadelpheia Arabes


i. Date(s) 258 (?) - 256 (?) BC


ii. Name elements
Ethnic:Arabes, Arabs


i. Source(s) PSI V 538 (258-256 BC?)
Online Resources PSI V 538
TM 2160
i.a. Source type(s) Papyrological source(s)
i.b. Document(s) typology & language/script Request in Greek to the dioiketes Apollonios by the dekadarchai of the Arabs of the village of Philadelphia for the appointment of an epistates.
i.c. Physical format(s) Papyrus.


ii. Leadership ἐπιστάτης, epistates (l. 2). It seems that the main characteristic in order to be fit for the post was to be able to afford the expenses of the charge (l. 4: χρείαι, chreiai).
Known practice of appointment The Arabs of Philadelpheia forwarded the names of Sostratos and Maron, two of their presbyteroi who could afford the charge (ll. 4-5; the actual practice of nomination is unknown), to the dioiketes Apollonios, who is asked by them to appoint one of them as their epistates.
iii. Members Among the membership of the Arabs there was a category called πρεσβύτεροι, presbyteroi: τινες ἐν τοῖς παρʼ ἡμῖ̣ν Ἄραψιν πρεσ|βύτεροι, tines en tois par' hemin Arapsin presbyteroi (ll. 3-4). If the interpretation of the passage is correct, the group may enlist other members and requests the dioiketes that they be officially registered as such: δεόμαθα (l. δεόμεθα) οὖν σου γράψαι | Ζωίλωι ὅπως ἂν οὓς ἂν προσαγάγωμεν τούτους καταχωριζειν (l. καταχωρίζηι), deometha oun sou grapsai Zoiloi hopos an hous an prosagagomen toutous katachorizei (ll. 4-5).
iv. Officials δεκαδάρχαι, dekadarchai (l.1). There were at least two dekadarchai, Demetrios and Petechon.


i. Treasury/Funds As there is mention of some salary (ll. 6, 7: ὀψώνιον, opsonion) being paid, it is possible that the group had a treasury.
iii. Income The Arabs mentioned in their request to the dioiketes that he should see that their monthly salary (opsonion) is paid to them, as they rely on it (ll. 6-7). It is uncertain whether such a salary constituted the communal income of the group or was rather the income of the single individuals.


ii. Gender Men
Note All the attested names are male
iii. Age Adults
Note Given the presence of presbyteroi the group must have included at least adults and elders (however, the term may in fact only refer to relative and not actual age).
iv. Status The groups seems to gather people with the same ethno-cultural background (at least originally?). The Arabs are also a privileged tax category in Ptolemaic tax-registers (see Clarysse - Thompson 2006: II 159-61) and may in fact be used as a professional-designation for police corps (see also Honigman 2002: esp. 61-9).
vi. Proper names and physical features Δημήτριος καὶ Πετεχῶ̣ν̣ δεκαδάρχαι τῶν ἐμ Φιλαδελφείαι Ἀράβων.


iii. Bibliography Clarysse, W., and Thompson, D. J. (2006), Counting the People in Hellenistic Egypt. Cambridge.
Honigman, S. (2002), 'Les divers sens de l'ethnique Ἄραψ dans les sources documentaires grecques d'Égypte', AncSoc 32: 43-72.


i. Private association Possible
Note The Arabs of the village of Philadelpheia possessed an organised structure with officials (dekadarchai), a complex level of membership (with presbyteroi alongside 'common' members) and with a person in charge of their affairs (epistates); they may have had common funds, also deriving from their salary. It is therefore possible that they formed a private association (perhaps of shepherds, as sheep-farming seems to be one of the two typical occupations – next to policing – of Arabs in the Zenon archive, to which this text belongs). However, it seems in fact more likely that the Arabs in question represented a police force and not an association, probably employed as private guards by the dioiketes Apollonios to patrol his dorea in Philadelpheia.