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Last Updated on 01 Dec 2018

Author: Mario C.D. Paganini

CAPInv. 813: hoi apo Mempheos naukleroi Hippodromitai


i. Geographical area Egypt
ii. Nome Herakleopolites (U20)


i. Full name (original language) οἱ ἀπὸ Μέμφεως ναύκληροι Ἱπποδρομῖται (BGU VIII 1741, ll. 5-6 and 11-12)
ii. Full name (transliterated) hoi apo Mempheos naukleroi Hippodromitai


i. Date(s) 63 BC


i. Name in other forms οἱ ἀπὸ Μέμφεως Ἱπποδρομῖται, hoi apo Mempheos Hippodromitai (BGU VIII 1742, l. 8; BGU VIII 1743, l. 6)
ii. Name elements
Geographical:apo Mempheos
Topographical:Hippodromitai referring to the hippodrome (of Memphis), where (or in the quarter of which) the group was possibly based, or whence their cargoes departed. However, we so far do not have further evidence for a hippodrome in Memphis: cf. Vélissaropoulos 1980: 113-114, and n. 131.


i. Source(s) BGU VIII 1741 (Epeiph = 3 Jul. – 3 Aug. 63 BC)
BGU VIII 1742 (14 Epeiph = 18 Jul. 63 BC)
BGU VIII 1743 (20 Mesore = 23 Aug. 63 BC)
BGU XIV 2368 (20 Mesore = 23 Aug. 63 BC)
Note BGU XIV 2368 is the edition of the third column of text of BGU VIII 1743.
Online Resources BGU VIII 1741; TM 4823
BGU VIII 1742; TM 4824
BGU VIII 1743 + BGU XIV 2368; TM 4825
i.a. Source type(s) Papyrological source(s)
i.b. Document(s) typology & language/script Greek orders and documents for the shipping of tax-grain to Alexandria on ships of the naukleroi Hippodromitai.
i.c. Physical format(s) Papyrus.
ii. Source(s) provenance The papyri come from mummy cartonage from the Herakleopolite nome.


ii. References to buildings/objects σκάφη, skaphe: BGU VIII 1741, l. 9; BGU VIII 1742, l. 8; BGU VIII 1743, l. 6.


ii. Leadership The naukleroi Hippodromitai had a προστάτης, prostates. Within the period of a month (between 18 July and 23 August 63 BC), the office of prostates was undertaken by two different men: the first one was called Apollophanes (BGU VIII 1741, ll. 5, 11), the second one Malichos (BGU VIII 1743, l. 5). The term of office (however long it may have been) may have naturally ended at some point in between those dates, or the first prostates may have been unable to carry out his duties until the end of his term and had to be replaced by Malichos. We do not have positive evidence to prove that this office was necessarily shorter than the grammateus's (see VII.iv. 'Officials'), pace Hauben 1971: 269, Vélissaropoulos 1980: 114, and Hauben 1992: 325.
iv. Officials The naukleroi Hippodromitai had a γραμματεύς, grammateus (BGU VIII 1741, ll. 5, 11; BGU VIII 1742, l. 7; BGU VIII 1743, ll. 5-6). Unlike the prostates, the grammateus was the same for the whole period in which the Hippodromitai are attested (July-August 63 BC) and was called Eudemos.


ii. Realty Some members of the naukleroi Hippodromitai may have owned the ships which were used for the transport of tax-crops, besides being possibly captains of the vessels too. Zabdion, son of Artemidoros was captain and probably owner of a ship with a cargo of 1200 artabae (ca 46,600 litres = over 36 ton; BGU VIII 1741, l. 9; BGU VIII 1742, l. 8); Apollonios was captain and possibly owner of a boat with a cargo of 1800 artabae (ca 69,900 litres = over 54 ton; BGU VIII 1743, l. 6). Cf. Hauben 1971: 269-270 and n. 55.
iii. Income The group was involved in the grain transport on the Nile on behalf of the state and obtained their income from it. We do not know whether members were to pay a membership fee.


i. Number We do not know the total number of members. There are at least three members of the naukleroi at any one time. The total amount of all attested members is five.
ii. Gender Men
Note All the attested members bear men's names.
iii. Age Adults
Note Given the commercial character of the group, it seems likely that the naukleroi Hippodromitai were all adults.
iv. Status The groups gathered together naukleroi or shipping contractors involved in the transport of grain to Alexandria on behalf of the state. On the office of naukleros in Ptolemaic Egypt, cf. P.Erasm. II pp. 133-153. The prostates Malichos bears an Arabic or Nabataean name; the shipper Zabdion has a Semitic name. The group may have gathered people with Phoenician origin: cf. Hauben 1992: 326-327. Foreigners were very much involved in Nile shipping: cf. Thompson 2012: 82.
vi. Proper names and physical features Ἀπολλοφάνης π̣ροστάτης
Εὔδημος γραμματεύς
Ζαβδίων Ἀρτεμίδωρος


i. Local interaction The apo Mempheos naukleroi Hippodromitai were probably based in the city of Memphis (as their name suggests). However, given their activities of shipping contractors, they interacted with other areas of Egypt too. In the present case we have evidence for their presence and activities in the Herakleopolite nome (south of Memphis) and at Alexandria: BGU VIII 1742, for instance, mentions that the grain to be shipped to Alexandria on board of Zabdion's ship is to be collected from the thesauros of the village of Tilothis, in the Herakleopolites. It is possible that the apo Mempheos naukleroi Hippodromitai had obtained the right to be in charge of the transport of the grain-tax for the whole Herakleopolite nome: cf. Hauben 1992: 322-323.


i. Comments The internal indication of the naukleroi Hippodromitai as being apo Mempheos seems to point to the fact that the group was based in or originated from that city. However, their business activities made them present and active in other areas of the country, such as the Herakleopolite nome, like in the present case, as deduced by internal evidence (mention of the thesauros of the village of Tilothis in BGU VIII 1742, l. 3) and the provenance of the papyri (from mummy cartonage). Cf. also Hauben 1971: 269-270 and n. 60. As suggested by Hauben 1971: 270-272, SB V 8754 may deal with members of the naukleroi Hippodromitai; however, there is no evidence for this, apart from the simple fact that the people in question were active in the grain transport to Memphis.
iii. Bibliography Hauben, H. (1971), 'An annotated list of Ptolemaic naukleroi with a discussion of BGU X 1933', ZPE 8: 259-75.
Hauben, H. (1992), 'Les nauclères «phéniciens» de Memphis (63 av. J.-C.)', in Numismatique et histoire économique phéniciennes et puniques, Louvain-la-Neuve: 321-331.
Thompson, D. J. (2012), Memphis under the Ptolemies, 2nd. edn. Princeton-Oxford.
Vélissaropoulos, J. (1980), Les nauclères grecs. Genève.


i. Private association Probable
Note On the basis of their organisation, durability, name, and property, it is probable that the naukleroi Hippodromitai formed a private association. However, on the basis of our evidence (especially the lack of the use of a 'descriptive term'), we cannot exclude that the group was just a simple business enterprise either. Cf. also Vélissaropoulos 1980: 113-115.