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Last Updated on 24 Mar 2017

Author: Benedikt Eckhardt

CAPInv. 1789: Kaunion to politeuma


i. Geographical area The Near East and Beyond
ii. Region Phoenicia
iii. Site Sidon


i. Full name (original language) Καυνίων τὸ πολίτευμα (ΟGIS 592, l. 1)
ii. Full name (transliterated) Kaunion to politeuma


i. Date(s) 250 (?) - 200 (?) BC


ii. Name elements
iii. Descriptive terms πολίτευμα, politeuma
Note politeuma: OGIS 592, l. 1


i. Source(s) OGIS 592 (250 (?) - 200 (?) BC)
Note See also: AGRW 271
Online Resources AGRW ID 1885
i.a. Source type(s) Epigraphic source(s)
i.b. Document(s) typology & language/script Commemorative inscription, in Greek
i.c. Physical format(s) Grave stele depicting two soldiers
ii. Source(s) provenance Sidon


i. Comments The date is debated. As the politeuma is not attested in Egypt before the 2nd century BC, the Sidonian inscriptions attesting to politeumata have normally been dated to the period of Seleucid control over Phoenicia (early 2nd century BC). This approach has recently been challenged, because soldiers from Kaunos would have served the Ptolemies, but not the Seleucids (Huß 2011: 288).
iii. Bibliography Honigman, S. (2003), ‘Politeumata and Ethnicity in Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt’, AncSoc 33: 61-102.
Huß, W. (2011), Die Verwaltung des ptolemaiischen Reiches. Munich.
Sänger, P. (2014), ‘The Politeuma in the Hellenistic World (Third to First Century B.C.): A Form of Organisation to Integrate Minorities’, in J. Dahlvik, Chr. Reinprecht and W. Sievers (eds.), Migration und Integration – wissenschaftliche Perspektiven aus Österreich. Jahrbuch 2/2013, Göttingen: 51-68.


i. Private association Possible
Note The debate on the nature of ethnic politeumata has been long and inconclusive. It seems clear that they united Ptolemaic mercenaries from a given area, and that they had a certain judicial autonomy (Honigman 2003: 64-6; Sänger 2014: 59-60). According to Sänger 2014, this means that they could not have been private associations, but had "a public and institutional character" (62). It is nevertheless possible that the impulse to form a group was a private one, and we should remember that internal jurisdiction was characteristic of all ancient private associations.

One important aspect of this debate is the old question whether or not privileges similar to citizenship were accorded to members of politeumata (on the debate, cf. Honigman 2003: 61-2). The present inscription is important for this discussion, as the deceased persons are named "their politai" - were they citizens of Kaunos (αὐτῶν, auton referring to the Kaunians) or of this politeuma? Contrary to Huß 2011: 288, I do not think that the second solution is "offensichtlich" correct; it is grammatically easier to connect αὐτῶν, auton with the Kaunians mentioned in l. 1. However, in the (later) Jewish politeuma of Herakleopolis, politai seems to be used once to describe the members of the community (P.Polit.Iud. 1, ll. 17-18). As "the Jews" cannot easily be compared to the Kaunians, who were citizens of a defined polis, the relevance of this analogy is not quite clear.