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Ancient Egypt: Allotment of crown lands in Ptolemaic times
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Allotment of crown lands to soldiers and their rents in Ptolemaic times

Column a.
1. .................. =112 ½ 1/xx artabas .......... 5 aruras 22 ½ 1/xx artabas
2. ..............
3. .............. 160 artabas
4. .............. 1046 1/xx aruras = 5736 1/xx artabas
5. .............. = 320 artabas
6. .............. = 6056 1/xx artabas (?)
7. ..............
8. .............. = 829 1/xx artabas
9. ...... from the year 25 the ....... and the families of the horsemen
10. ....... 58 325 1/xx artabas (?)
11. ....... 1156 ½ ¼ [aruras] = 6381 1/xx artabas (?)
12. ..... 1 ¼ arura 8 ½ ¼ artabas (?)
13. the foot soldiers up to year 16 of the king's father, who are exempt from rent
14. the company (?) of Aristodemus 35 aruras
15. from year 1 of the king's father their single (?) ........ which is exempt from the rent 169 ¼ 1/xx aruras
16. ....... 5 aruras
17. the men to whom the king has made ........ 505 1/xx aruras = 2639 1/xx artabas
18. ........ 100 aruras 533 1/xx aruras (?)
19. the men of the town of Memphis .......... = 272 1/xx artabas
20. the men of Thrasycles ...........

Column b.
1. the men of Hermias 10 aruras 60 artabas
2. to the men of Qqe (?) 25 aruras 121 artabas
3. the men of Gymnus who are inscribed ........ 15 aruras 70 artabas
4. the men who have been among ..... the sailors (?) of Shashotep
5. 13 aruras 86 ¼ 1/xx artabas.
6. the foot soldiers up to year 16 who are exempt from rent 35 aruras.
7. and from year 1 who are exempt from rent 169 ¼ aruras.
8. (those) who have a rent written against them 640 1/xx aruras = 3367 ¼ artabas
9. ......... 106 aruras 589 1/xx artabas (?)
10. to the foot soldiers 844 ¼ 1/xx aruras
11. and those which were given them from the year 22
12. the foot soldiers ........ 124 aruras 962 1/xx artabas
13. ...... 40 aruras = 213 ¼ (?) artabas (?)
14. the men of Totoes 113 ½ 1/xx aruras = 676 artabas
15. the men of Pete ....... 35 1/xx aruras =209 artabas
16. the sailors (?) to whom was given the portion from year 1 17 1/xx aruras 82 1/xx artabas
17. and those which were given them from year 12 36 1/xx aruras 133 (?) 1/xx artabas.
18. and those which were given them year 25 6 aruras 27 ½ artabas
19. ........ the topogrammateus Ql..... 24 ¼ aruras 150 1/xx artabas
20. to the foot soldiers up to the year 16 who are exempt from rent 35 aruras
21. and from year 1 who are exempt from rent 169 ¼ aruras.
22. (those) who have a rent written against them 657 ¼ 1/xx aruras = 3 (?) .... artabas
23. and from year 12 (?) 359 1/xx aruras ......

Source: Herbert Thompson The Demotic Papyri
in W.M.F. Petrie Gizeh and Rifeh

-   This is a list of lands allotted to soldiers - infantry, cleruch (cavalry) and possibly sailors - probably during the reigns of Ptolemy Epiphanes and Philometor. Some of the land was rent free, other allotments paid on average 5½ artabas of wheat per aroura.
  Throughout much of Ptolemaic rule there was popular unrest and the army was used to put down rebellions. During the reign of Epiphanes much of the south of the country, Thebes included, was not under Ptolemaic control. Settling loyal soldiers in pacified territories helped quell the revolt.
  Ptolemy VI Philometor: 180-164 BCE
  the king's father: probably Ptolemy V Epiphanes (205-180 BCE)
  1/xx: fraction smaller than ¼
 
  arura: The ground covered by a yoke of ploughing oxen in one day, about 2700 mē
  artaba: Dry measure, about 36 litres in classical times, about 27 litres under the Ptolemies

Assuming that the average rent was 5½ artabas per aroura, that 1 artaba of grain weighed about 16 kg, and that yields were between 500 and 1000 kg/ha as was usual in developing countries before the Green Revolution in the 20th centure CE, rents would have been very high:
  wheat yield  
kg/ha
rent
  % of yield  
  500 kg/ha66%
  750 kg/ha44%
 1000 kg/ha33%

 
  horsemen: cleruchs
  Qqe: placename
  Shashotep: Town in Middle Egypt of which Rifeh was the necropolis
  topogrammateus: district scribe

 


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November 2003

 

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