Life in an Egyptian Village in Late Antiquity: Aphrodito Before and After the Islamic Conquest

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Cambridge University Press, Sep 30, 2018 - History
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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Contents

Aphrodito in Egypt
1
A World of Violence
28
A World of Law
42
Dioskoros Caught in Between
60
Working in the Fields
75
Town Crafts and Trades
94
Looking to Heaven
111
From Cradle to Grave
131
Aphroditos Women
149
Big Men and Strangers
164
Life in the Big City
181
Conclusion
200
Bibliography
214
General Index
227
Index Locorum
231
Copyright

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About the author (2018)

Giovanni R. Ruffini is a Professor in the Department of History at Fairfield University, Connecticut. He is the co-founder and editor of Dotawo: A Journal of Nubian Studies and is the author of numerous articles and several books on Byzantine Egypt and medieval Nubia. These books include Social Networks in Byzantine Egypt (Cambridge, 2008) and Medieval Nubia: A Social and Economic History (2012).

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