Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Book Review: Arsinoites Nomos - Administration of the Fayum under Roman Rule

Bryn Mawr Classical Review

In this useful and interesting study of provincial Egypt, Tomasz Derda has set himself the far from moderate task of disentangling the complex and fragmented papyrological evidence relating to the formal aspects of Roman administration in the Egyptian Fayum. The book grew out of his engagement with the project of Willy Clarysse on "Fayum villages in the Graeco-Roman Period" (p. XII) and as such reflects the classic concerns of papyrology. First and foremost, this is a study of the formalities of state administration; the emphasis is heavily on clarifying the use of administrative terms which scholars encounter in the numerous surviving documentary papyri in order to chart the nature of administrative units and offices. A more penetrating analysis of the relations of power underwriting Roman rule in Fayum society, on the other hand, is not really attempted, though Derda does occasionally offer some interesting observations on this topic too.

Conceived as a study of formal administrative divisions and their chronological developments from late Ptolemaic times till the 4th century, the structure of the book is more or less given. The introduction and Chapter 1 set the scene and situate the Fayum as a somewhat aberrant case within the administrative organisation of the province of Egypt. Then follows a survey of the administration over four chapters each dedicated to clarifying the character of a specific kind of office and administrative division. Finally a conclusion summarises the results.

No comments: