Life in an Egyptian Village in Late Antiquity: Aphrodito Before and After the Islamic Conquest
Most ancient history focuses on the urban elite. Papyrology explores the daily lives of the more typical men and women in antiquity. Aphrodito, a village in sixth-century AD Egypt, is antiquity's best source for micro-level social history. The archive of Dioskoros of Aphrodito introduces thousands of people living the normal business of their lives: loans, rent contracts, work agreements, marriage, divorce. In exceptional cases, the papyri show raw conflict: theft, plunder, murder. Throughout, Dioskoros struggles to keep his family in power in Aphrodito, and to keep Aphrodito independent from the local tax collectors. The emerging picture is a different vision of Roman late antiquity than what we see from the view of the urban elites. It is a world of free peasants building networks of trust largely beyond the reach of the state. Aphrodito's eighth-century AD papyri show that this world dies in the early years of Islamic rule.
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accused acres agreement ancient Antaiopolis Antinoopolis Aphrodito papyri Apollos appears archive arouras Athanasios Bagnall Banaji Blemmyes cadastre capital chapter Christian church claim complaint Constantinople Coptic Count Ammonios daughter debt Dioskoros Dioskoros’s Dioskoros’s father dispute documents Egyptian elite Enoch entries evidence Flavius Fournet Gagos give gold coins gold pieces Greek guild heads headman Herakleios holy husband imperial Ioannes Ioulianos Ishqaw Justinian Keenan Kollouthos Kuehn land landowners late antiquity lease MacCoull marriage Marthot Menas Minnen modern monastery monks Mousaios murder named Nikantinoos nome Nonnus official P.Aphrod.Lit P.Cair.Masp P.Lond pagarch patron patronage payments petition Phoibammon Phthla poem probably records region rent Roman Egypt Ruffini Saint Senouthes shepherds sixth century social someone Sophia Sourous southern Egypt story survives tax collection tenants Thebaid theft Theodoros town town’s trans Urbanik Victor village headmen violence White Monastery wife women xystos