Women and Family Archives on Papyrus

Ann Hanson
Yale University

In the year since I began thinking about my paper for the conference “Feminism & Classics IV,” the Leuven Homepage of Papyrus Archives1 has nearly doubled the number of archives within its purview, reflecting not only the vigorous publication of papyri in this new century, but also the continual process of drawing together papyri that were once kept together by individuals, families, and institutions in antiquity, but yet, upon discovery in modern times, were sold to antiquities dealers and acquired by different institutional collections in Europe and the US. Over time, many papyri received discrete publication in papyrological volumes and journals, although inter-connections with related texts remained unrecognized, even when a single institution acquired them. Now that the number of published papyrus texts is approaching 60,000, the process of reuniting documents with their ancient owners proceeds apace, with electronic search tools accelerating the process of identifying individuals and families who lived in a specific village or larger town at a particular point in time.

As is well known, the dry climate of the desert areas adjacent to the eastern Mediterranean, as well as the Nile valley, preserved perishable materials from antiquity in large quantities, providing a rich store of information about the lives of the inhabitants—from wealthy landowners to those of moderate circumstances and even peasants, struggling to make ends meet. Their documents, written in Greek or the various native languages,2 enable us to write local histories of their communities and tell the stories of the men and women who saved their papers and documents in a detail similar to what is available for much later historical periods. In the first half century or so of papyrus acquisition, papyri and ostraca were for the most part unearthed either by expeditions mounted by European and American institutions with the expressed intent of bringing home the materials found, or by Egyptian farmers, as they dismantled the mud-brick houses of ancient settlements, or adjacent rubbish heaps and necropoleis, in their search for fertilizer. The farmers, or other clandestine diggers, sold what they found to dealers in antiquities, thereby isolating the texts away from their ancient context. In addition, sophisticated archeological techniques were seldom employed by earlier excavators with a similar result, although more recent excavations have done much to remedy the failure of the pioneers to track find-spots with precision. It is increasingly clear, however, that few papyri were found in isolation, and both family papers and administrative documents were in many instances still grouped together when they came out of the ground during the last 120 years. In part, ancient archives identify themselves, even though dispersed to various papyrus collections in modern times, because the same individuals and places are repeatedly mentioned. While prosopography plays an important role in reconstituting an ancient archive that lost its archeological context, attention to acquisition records at the institutions currently housing papyri which might belong to a particular archive often bolsters the join, since such records give the date and means by which the papyri in question entered the specific collection. Contiguous inventory numbers within a single collection, or acquisition by several institutions at about the same time, contributes to the identification of an archive’s texts. Papyrologists have come to label this latter process “museum archeology,” and it is now an important facet in the effort to set individual texts back into the contexts from which they once derived.3 The Leuven Archives thus present efforts by several generations of papyrologists in a format searchable by a wider group of scholars with interests in the ancient world: it describes the texts that now constitute the more than 300 archives and supplies bibliographic information on each archive. This is an important source for the lives ancient women actually lived.

I begin this paper by looking at three archives—those of Aurelia Sarapias, Taësis, and Babatha,4 for the archives of these three women share the curious feature of having been found by excavators bundled or tied up together. Although the women themselves were separated by time, place, and socio-economic class, all three were apparently illiterate and unable to read the papers they assembled. While the first and third archives consist exclusively of business papers, the second includes only personal letters. I shall then briefly pursue this same division of either business documents or private letters in a number of other archives and shall close with the observation that many interesting papyri involving ancient women derive not from archives women themselves compiled, but from archives collected by their menfolk, for men appear to have been the more ready to intersperse personal letters among their business papers.

Aurelia Sarapias was a citizen of the city of Antinoopolis, founded by Hadrian and named in memory of his favorite Antinous, although her papers were excavated in the farming village of Tebtunis in the south-west corner of the Fayum by the Oxford papyrologists B.P. Grenfell and A.S. Hunt in the winter of 1899/1900 and published by them in 1907.5 Sarapias’ relatively wealthy family maintained a residence in the village, as well as owning agricultural lands elsewhere and perhaps a house in Antinoopolis. Sarapias’ bundle of papers divides neatly into two groups—texts concerning M. Aurelius Sarapammon, dating between AD 248 and 265, and those concerning Sarapias herself, clustering in the years AD 264-270, after she had been widowed by her husband Paulus and left with a young daughter Paulina to raise. Sarapammon was most likely Sarapias’ father, and his papers came into her hands when the old man died, perhaps shortly after she returned to her natal home upon the death of her husband.6 In the mid-260’s Sarapias petitioned the prefect, asking that he name her brother Aurelius Sarapion alias Alexander as guardian for little Paulina and administrator of the child’s property, now that Paulus was dead. As the petition suggests, Sarapias expected Paulina to inherit from her father, despite the fact that he died intestate. Nonetheless, Paulus’ estate was subsequently turned over to his brother Pasigenes, not to his daughter. The fact that Paulina did not become her father’s heir also explains the presence in Aurelia Sarapias’ bundle of a rescript from the emperor Gordian III, dated to AD 238 but copied at some point after Gordian’s death in 244. The emperor was responding to a question involving legitimacy of children and he declared that registration was not legal cause for establishing either their legitimacy or illegitimacy. Pasigenes had apparently questioned the legal status of his niece Paulina, offering proof to authorities that she was illegitimate on the grounds that her birth had never been registered, and thus she was not eligible to become her father’s legal heir. Sarapias’ papers , all written in Greek, give no indication that she was literate in the language, neither in her petition to the prefect, written throughout by the same professional hand, nor in the two copies of the inventories of Paulus’ property and personal effects, each written by a different professional scribe. Sarapias’ habit of fastening together papers important to her suggests that she relied on non-verbal signals, such as the arrangement of the sheets and the particular format of a specific document, in order to distinguish one from another. Sarapias was nonetheless by no means unsophisticated about the worth of her husband’s possessions, and the meticulous accounting of the items and slaves she surrendered to Pasigenes included remarks on the condition and value of individual pieces, as well as details that would have best been known to the wife of the deceased Paulus: “A complete lamp-stand with a Cupid and lamp, valued at [?]6 drachmas”; “a tunic new from the fuller, with a Laconian stripe, worth a stater”; “white linen cloths, 12 in number, worth 96 drachmas, at eight drachmas each.”7 No doubt Sarapias expected she would ultimately regain what she handed over to her former brother-in-law, and the meticulousness of the inventory underscores this aim on her part.

The peasant woman Taësis was living in the Fayum village of Karanis in the mid- to late-second century AD, apparently an older widow who shared her domicile with two adult sons Apollinarios and Kalalas, their wives, and children. Archeologists from the University of Michigan between 1924 and 1935 were among the earliest excavators to pay attention to the contexts in which papyri were found, and they discovered Taësis’ archive, consisting of two personal letters in Greek, likewise fastened together, in a room of her house. The letters had been sent her by a third son also named Apollinarios, as he journeyed from Karanis on his way to Rome and Misenum to serve in the Roman fleet.8 Once the young man arrived in Cyrene he discovered a man traveling in Taësis’ direction, so he reported in the first letter which arrived back home the fact that he had earlier taken advantage of a traveler and dispatched his mother a letter; the letter from Cyrene may never have reached Taësis, since it was not tied in her bundle, or she may have discarded it, once it was read. In any case, Apollinarios’ first letter in his mother’s collection marked his arrival in Portus, the harbor the emperor Trajan built to augment the capacity and safety of shipping at Ostia, the port of Rome. Apollinarios assured his mother that he was in good health and he urged her to write to him, sending letters via Socrates, the local collector of money taxes at Karanis, for the latter had access to the imperial mail service. Apollinarios’ second and last surviving letter was sent from Misenum and was likewise occupied with good wishes for the family back home, together with assurances of his own well-being, “for I have come to a fine place” (eis kalon topon).9 The son enlisted the services of professional scribes to draft in Greek the letters he sent home, and the mother Taësis was probably compelled to appeal to a literate family member, if there were one, or a fellow villager to read each out to her. She may even have needed some Greek phrases in the letters translated into Egyptian, for this was the language of daily life for many peasant villagers, men and women alike.10

The Jewess Babatha was a native of the Roman province of Arabia, but the Bar Kokhba revolt, late in the reign of the emperor Hadrian, persuaded her to flee with her step-daughter Shelamzion to the Nevel Hever in Palestine, where both women perished in the so-called “Cave of Letters,” not far from the shores of the Dead Sea. In common with Aurelia Sarapias of Tebtunis, she too was a young widow with a small son to raise. After the death of her second husband Judah, she was the owner of considerable property through inheritance and widowhood; Judah had been literate in Aramaic and wrote with a practiced hand, but Babatha was illiterate in both Greek and Aramaic and employed scribes to write her documents. She kept these in an attractive leather purse, and when she deposited the purse in a crevice of the cave’s wall for safe-keeping, she first placed the purse within an animal skin refashioned to hold water, but now filled by Babatha with balls of flaxen thread. While the contents of the purse reveal her business acumen, the balls of threads served not only as raw materials for making clothing, but provided her with the strings and cloths with which to organize the documents she could not herself read. In addition, documents of particular interest to Babatha and Shelamzion—a deed of gift to Babatha’s mother,11 Shelamzion’s marriage contract, and the ketubba for Babatha’s marriage to Judah—were also tied together in separate bundles, along with deeds to property mentioned in the contracts.12

We simply do not know why Taësis tied her two letters from Apollinarios together, nor do we know what happened to Apollinarios once he arrived in Misenum—did he die in Roman service, or did he merely become negligent and forgetful, preoccupied with his new life and career? Or did Taësis, certainly a grandmother, die before additional letters arrived? It is easier to suggest motives as to why the two young widows bundled their documents together, ordering, separating, and combining, in order to convince others that they knew well the contents of each papyrus sheet, for the documents guaranteed ownership of specific properties and funds. Both young widows, Sarapias and Babatha, also retained copies of official Roman pronouncements that addressed the legal matters lying at the center of their struggles to safeguard a financial future for their young children. Aurelia Sarapias retained the emperor’s rescript on the relation of a child’s registration to legitimacy, and Babatha retained in three copies, written out by two different hands, a Greek version of one of the Roman praetor’s actiones dealing with guardianship of orphans.13 Some four months after the appointment of guardians for her orphaned son, Babatha sent a petition to the Roman governor, bewailing the niggardliness of a male kinsman, who, “though he had sufficient funds, neither paid family debts, nor contributed to the orphan’s maintenance,” and she repeatedly protested the paltry sums her son’s guardians were providing.14 In October 125, Babatha continued her efforts with a summons against one of the guardians and filed a deposition against them both, charging them with not supplying “maintenance money commensurate with the income from the interest on his money and property and commensurate in particular with a style of life which befits him.” Babatha suggested that the guardians allow her to manage the boy’s assets so that she might increase them threefold. Babatha seems to have been no more successful than was Aurelia Sarapias in manipulating into tangible results the copies of the official rulings they both acquired and diligently preserved, for the latest dated document in Babatha’s purse from mid-August 132 was a receipt she issued to the current guardian of her son, indicating she was receiving the same amount of money per month as eight years previous.

The archives of Sarapias and Babatha consist only of business papers and no personal letters; if the two young widows received letters from family and friends, they either discarded them after reading, or kept private letters separate from their documents. By contrast, Taësis’ entire archive consisted of the two letters and no business papers, and, in this regard, she resembles Satornila, an older widow of far higher socio-economic status, living in the Fayum village of Philadelphia late in the second century AD; Satornila also seems to have been illiterate, although her five adult sons were fully literate in Greek. The archive she assembled consisted only of letters and is unusual in that of the eight sheets of papyrus in her assemblage, two sheets contained two letters each and one sheet, three letters. Satornila was the addressee in most of the letters and was mentioned throughout, as her sons, all of them Roman citizens, journeyed away from home and wrote back concerns about their mother’s well being. The most active letter writer was her eldest son Sempronius whom government business had taken north to the area around Alexandria. Because the letters were purchased from dealers and are now spread among at least five collections in the US and Europe, there is no way to know whether Satornila isolated her letters in some fashion and kept business papers, now apparently lost, elsewhere.15

Another small archive of business papers in Greek was kept by Berenike, a literate woman resident in the district capital of Oxyrhynchos: a joint will of about AD 98/99 for Berenike and her husband Pasion that enabled her, not the couple’s sons, to take over Pasion’s business affairs, should she outlive him; a draft of a petition to the Roman prefect in AD 102 in which Apion, a wine merchant and former business associate of Pasion who had since died, accused Berenike of defrauding him of wine deposited with Pasion and of refusing to return IOUs for money lent him by Pasion when she sold his deposit of wine and pocketed the profits; and finally an account of income and expenditure written by Berenike herself in a professional hand about AD 106.16 Apion’s petition made clear that his claims had already received a hearing before the highest Roman official in the district and that Berenike succeeded on that occasion in thwarting his attempts to inspect Pasion’s ledger recording the earlier transactions and to learn how much profit she made through the sale of what he claimed was his wine. Whether or not the subsequent attempt on Apion’s part resolved their dispute is at present unknown, and may remain so in the absence of further documentation, but, as Peter van Minnen has pointed out, Berenike was more than a match for Apion, confident at the first hearing that it was her right to liquidate the stock of wine on hand at Pasion’s death and to brush aside demands from a wine merchant who had been in debt to Pasion.

The archive of Aurelia Charite, a wealthy resident of the district capital of Hermoupolis in Upper Egypt during the middle of the fourth century AD, contains not only contracts of lease, lists of land holdings and their registration, and tax receipts that concerned her property. It is likely that papers of her husband, the important magistrate and landowner Aurelius Adelphios, came into Charite’s possession when her husband left her a widow about AD 326.17 She apparently then became the keeper of the family’s papers from the death of her husband until her own death some fourteen years later, when the archive passed into the hands of her son, Aurelius Asklepiades. Papyri documenting this large and extended family over three generations are many, and debates continue as to the extent to which all these texts were gathered together into a single assemblage in antiquity; nonetheless, it seems likely that those of concern to Adelphios, Charite, and Asklepiades, a nuclear family, probably were.18 There are no private letters in the assemblage of some forty texts directly involving Charite, although both Charite and her mother, Aurelia Demetria alias Ammonia, were literate in Greek. The papers of Adelphios contained one business letter addressed to him by an underling, and those of Asklepiades, three letters concerning official matters. If the family received letters from relatives and friends, these were kept apart, or discarded, and have not been found. By contrast, the archive of Ploutogeneia contains at present eight highly personal letters from the years AD 297-298, and, although the letters had been sent to the Fayum village of Philadelphia and were no doubt found together there, they were bought by the University of Michigan from a dealer and were thus deprived of archeological context.19 All the letters were dictated to professional scribes, and family members were probably illiterates, since none closed their greetings with a salutation in their own hands, as was customary for literates to do. Five of the letters were from Paniskos to his wife Ploutogeneia, while she was residing in the family home in Philadelphia, and in them he repeatedly pleaded with her to join him in Coptus. Ploutogeneia never did and, according to Paniskos, she did not even bother to answer his letters, but instead went off to Alexandria for a time, despite his urgings that she stay in the village. Other letters were sent by Paniskos to his brother-in-law Aion and by Ploutogeneia to her mother Heliodora. There are no business papers in the assemblage, and the separation of personal letters from documents may provide an additional indication that Ploutogeneia was the assembler of the archive, rather than her husband Paniskos, as earlier editors assumed.

Archives named for women in the Leuven Archives are particularly frequent in later antiquity, as more landed property devolved to women through inheritances—a topic of considerable interest to those studying the social and economic life of women, as noted in Maryline Parca’s paper entitled “Papyrology, Gender, and Diversity.” Dated to the third and fourth centuries AD are a number of business archives gathered by women, of which four will be mentioned briefly here; their papers are concerned with the management of agricultural and other properties, and no private letters have thus far been shown to adhere: Aurelia Tetoueis of the Fayum village of Karanis (six texts); and from the district capital of Oxyrhynchos, Aurelia Diogenis alias Tourbiaina (three texts); Claudia Isidora alias Apias (an as-yet-uncertain number of texts); Aurelia Ptolemaïs (six texts).20 This latter Ptolemaïs was the eldest daughter of Aurelius Hermogenes, a councilor and president of the council at Oxyrhynchos, a wealthy man, father of five children, and with a taste for Greek literature. Ptolemaïs seems to have plundered her father’s library after the old man’s death, reusing, for example, the blank back of a papyrus roll containing book eighteen of Julius Africanus’ Kestoi for the copy she had made of his will that confirmed payment of her dowry.21

Archives that scholars named after male members of the family, because they were the assemblers, seem more likely to intersperse documents of various types, and they kept business papers together with private letters from and about family and friends. What usually occasioned personal letters was, of course, the separation of family members, and male members of the family not only had greater obligations and opportunities to spend time away from home, but they apparently found it congenial and convenient to jumble together the sheets of papyrus acquired during a sojourn, whatever their content, and carry these back home. As a result, interesting letters from women to a male family member are often found in men’s assemblages. A single example of family papers collected by a man, the archive of L. Pompeius Niger, veteran of the legio XXII Deiotariana, must suffice for closer inspection here.22 The archive assembled by Pompeius Niger contains at present fifteen texts, now scattered among at least five institutions and published at different times; he was apparently born in Oxyrhynchos, but after his discharge from active service in AD 44 he may have settled in the Fayum, perhaps in the village of Oxyrhyncha. The family, however, continued to maintain a house in Oxyrhynchos, a portion of which Niger had inherited, and, when he visited the city, he stayed there. His papers for the most part document his life in retirement—a census return, a petition, several contracts, and some eight private letters addressed to him from friends and women of the family—from his sister Charitous, and his daughters Herennia and Thaubas. Like Pompeius Niger, the women of the family were literate in Greek, for they did pen greetings in their own hand at the close if they employed a professional scribe to write the body of a letter. Pompeius Niger preserved two letters from his daughter Herennia; in one letter she reminded her father to purchase various items of clothing and in the other she reported that she had not only bought olives for him, but asked him for advice about a contribution apparently demanded from the family for the sanctuary of Souchos, crocodile god of the Fayum. In both letters Herennia mentioned “little Pompeius,” for she had named her young son after her father and perhaps also after her brother, another Pompeius.23 Particularly poignant, then, is Thaubas’ letter to her father announcing Herennia’s death: “... she already came safely through a premature delivery on the ninth of Phaophi. You see, she gave birth to an eight-month child, dead,24 she lived on for four days, but then died herself. She received a funeral from us and her husband, as was right, and has been transported to Alabanthis. So, if you come and want to, you can see her.”25 Similar assemblages by men of the family in which women figure prominently are: the archive of Tryphon, weaver in Julio-Claudian Oxyrhynchos,26 the archive of Nemesion, tax collector at Philadelphia for Julio-Claudian emperors; the archive of Apollonios, landowner at Hermoupolis and strategos of the Heptakomia during the Jewish revolt late in the reign of Trajan.

The evidence presented here does point to a tendency among women in the eastern Mediterranean during the Roman and Late Antique periods, whether literate in Greek or not, to have been more likely than their menfolk to separate out private letters from their business papers and to have stored the personal letters they wished to keep in different and perhaps more private places. My examples do no more than highlight an apparent gender difference in regard to the proper disposition of personal letters to be saved after reading. Those who write the social history of this society find that archives collected by women often document their intelligence and business acumen, but that personal letters to and about ancient women are as likely to occur in archives collected by men as by women.

Bibliography: Women & Family Archives on Papyrus

Bagnall 1992: R.S. Bagnall, “An Owner of Literary Papyri,” Classical Philology 87, 1992, 137-40.

Bagnall and Rathbone 2004: R.S. Bagnall and D.W. Rathbone, Egypt: From Alexander to the Copts, British Museum Press: London 2004.

Cotton 1993: H. Cotton, “The Guardianship of Jesus son of Babatha: Roman and Local Law in the Province of Arabia,” Journal of Roman Studies 83, 1993, 94-108.

Cotton 1997: H. Cotton, “Deeds of Gift and the Law of Succession in the Documents from the Judaean Desert,” Akten des 21. Internationalen Papyrologenkongresses, Berlin 1995 (= Archiv für Papyrusforschung, Beiheft 3), Stuttgart-Leipzig 1997,179-86.

Cribore 2002: R. Cribore, “The Women in the Apollonios Archive and Their Use of Literacy” in Le Rôle et le statut de la femme en Égypte hellénistique, romaine et byzantine (Studia Hellenistica 17), H. Melaerts and L. Mooren, editors, Peeters: Paris, Leuven, and Sterling VA 2002, 149-166.

Grenfell and Hunt 1907: B.P. Grenfell and A.S. Hunt, The Tebtunis Papyri, volume 2, Egypt Exploration Society: London 1907 (P.Tebt. II).

Hanson 2005: A.E. Hanson, “The Widow Babatha and the Poor Orphan Boy” in Law in the Documents of the Judaen Desert, R. Katzoff and D. Schapps, editors, Brill: Leiden and Boston, 2005, 85-103.

Hanson 2000: A.E. Hanson, “Widows too young in their Widowhood” in I, Claudia II: Women in Roman Art and Society, D.E.E. Kleiner and S. B. Matheson, editors, University of Texas Press: Austin 2000, 149-165.

Hanson 1987: A.E. Hanson, “The eighth months’ child and the etiquette of birth,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 61, 1987, 589-602.

Lewis 1989: N. Lewis, The Documents from the Bar Kochba Period in the Cave of Letters: Greek Papyri, Israel Exploration Society: Jerusalem 1989 (P.Yadin I).

Martin 1994: A. Martin, “Archives privées et cachettes documentaires” in Proceedings of the 20th International Congress of Papyrologists, A. Bülow-Jacobsen, editor, Museum Tusculanum Press: Copenhagen, 1994, 569-577.

Minnen 1998: P. van Minnen, “Berenice, a business woman from Oxyrhynchus” in The Two Faces of Graeco-Roman Egypt: Greek and Demotic and Greek-Demotic Texts and Studies Presented to P.W. Pestman (P.Lug.Bat. 30), A.M.F.W. Verhoogt and S.P. Vleeming, editors, E.J. Brill: Leiden-Boston-Köln 1998, 59-70.

Rowlandson 1998: J. Rowlandson, editor, Women and Society in Greek and Roman Egypt, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge 1998.

Vandorpe 2002: K. Vandorpe, The Bilingual Family Archive of Dryton, His Wife Apollonia, and their Daughter Senmouthis, Collectanea Hellenistica 4: Brussels 2002.

Verhoogt 1998: A.M.F.W. Verhoogt, “Family Papers from Tebtunis” in The Two Faces of Graeco-Roman Egypt: Greek and Demotic and Greek-Demotic Texts and Studies Presented to P.W. Pestman (P.Lug.Bat. 30),A.M.F.W. Verhoogt and S.P. Vleeming, editors, E.J. Brill: Leiden-Boston-Köln 1998, 141-154.

Yadin 1963: Y. Yadin, The Finds from the Bar Kokhba Period in the Cave of Letters (Judaean Desert Studies 1) Jerusalem 1963.

Yadin 1971: Y.Yadin, Bar-Kokhba: The Rediscovery of the Legendary Hero of the last Jewish revolt against imperial Rome, Weidenfeld and Nicolson: London 1971.

Youtie and Winter 1951: H.C. Youtie and J.G. Winter, The Michigan Papyri, volume 8, University of Michigan Press: Ann Arbor 1951 (P.Mich. VIII).

Wilfong 2002: T.G. Wilfong, Women of Jeme: Lives in a Coptic Town in Late Antique Egypt, University of Michigan Press: Ann Arbor 2002.

Winter 1935: J.G. Winter et al., The Michigan Papyri, volume 3, University of Michigan Press: Ann Arbor 1935 (P.Mich. III).

Worp 1991: K.A. Worp, Die Archive der Aurelii Adelphios und Asklepiades (Griechische Texte 17A), Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek: Vienna 1991 (CPR XVIIA).

Worp 1981: K.A. Worp, Das Aurelia Charite Archiv (Studia Amstelodamensia 12), Terra Publishing: Zutphen 1981 (P.Charite).

1 The URL for the website is: <http://lhpc.arts.kuleuven.ac.be/archives/alpha_list.php>.

2 In Egypt the native language was written in a variety of scripts (hieroglyphic, hieratic, demotic, and Coptic); the native language in documents from the time of the Bar Kokhba revolt considered here was Aramaic.

3 A particularly successful example of “museum archeology” not only augmented the archive conventionally known as the “archive of Dryton,” a Greek cavalry officer in service at Pathyris, Upper Egypt, in the middle of the second century BC, but also enhanced the role of Dryton’s second wife Apollonia and their eldest daughter (Vandorpe 2002, 7-12). The paper for this panel entitled “Papyrology, gender, and diversity” also gives a brief account of Apollonia.

4 The papers of Aurelia Sarapias are listed in the Leuven Archives under “Family archive of Sarapias”; those of Taësis and Babatha appear under each woman’s name. The archive of Babatha was found in a large, three-chambered cave in the northern escarpment of the Nahal Hever, near the village of En-Gedi in the Roman province of Judaea. The other archives considered here come from Egypt.

5 See Grenfell and Hunt 1907, and Verhoogt 1998, who lists Sarapias’ documents, as well as her father’s, all of which were published in Grenfell and Hunt 1907; see also Hanson 2005. The Leuven Archives provide a detailed summary of Sarapias’ papers and bibliography. The Fayum, the modern name for the Arsinoite nome, lies to the west of the Nile, some 100 kilometers south of Cairo; it was one of the richest farming districts in Egypt. For the Fayum, in general, and the Fayum villages of Tebtunis, Karanis, and Philadelphia, as well as the town of Oxyrhynchos, see Bagnall and Rathbone 2004, 127-154, 158-161.

6 For preferences of the widows of Roman Egypt with regard to their living arrangements, see Hanson 2000.

7 P.Tebt. II 406.12, 14, 18, and cf. P.Tebt. II 590. Full bibliographic information for volumes of papyrus texts and their standard abbreviations are at: <http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/papyrus/texts/clist.html>.

8 Youtie and Winter 1951 (P.Mich. VIII 490-491). See also Rowlandson 1998, 133-138, and plate 17, showing the position of Taësis’ letters among the rubble that archeologists found in her house.

9 P.Mich. VIII 491.10-11.

10 A private letter in Greek to family members (SB XVIII 13867) begins with the statement that it should be translated for the women, for peasant women in the farming villages were especially likely to know little or no Greek. The paper for this panel entitled “The Bilingual Written Environment of Late Antique Egypt” underscores the preference of women for the Egyptian language in the drafting of their legal documents, once this became a possibility in the late period.

11 See Cotton 1997, 179-180. For the first edition of Babatha’s archive, see Lewis 1989; the documents mentioned are P.Yadin I 7 and 17 (both in Greek), and P.Yadin II 10 (Aramaic).

12 For a reconstruction of Babatha’s purse, see Yadin 1963, 258-259 and fig. 158; for description of the Babatha finds in Locus 61, near the south-western corner of Hall C, see Yadin 1962, 38-40. Photos of the purse and the wrapped papyri in Yadin 1971, 222-228. Cf. Lewis 1989, 3-4.

13 The papyri mentioned in the text are P.Yadin I 28, 29, and 30, ca. AD 125. For the appropriateness of the praetor’s pronouncement to Babatha’s case see, Cotton 1993, 104-108.

14 The papyri contesting funds provided for her son’s maintenance are P.Yadin I 13, 14, 15, and 27.

15 For the collections that house Satornila letters, their publication over time, and an extended discussion with family tree, see the Leuven Archives under “Satornila and her sons.” Also Rowlandson 1998, 143-147.

16 See van Minnen 1998; the papyri are P.Oxy. III 493, XXII 2342, and SB XX 14409.

17 Worp 1981, pp. x and 8; Worp 1991, pp. 9-10, 65. Also Rowlandson 1998, 241-243 and plate 27, 259-260.

18 Here I have adhered to the cogent arguments of Martin 1994, 576-577.

19 For the first publication of the letters, see Winter 1935, 275-298. Also Rowlandson 1998, 147-151, and the extensive discussion in Leuven Archives under “Ploutogeneia,” with family tree and additions to the archive (SB XVI 12326 and a new fragment of P.Mich. III 219).

20 The archives mentioned are listed in the Leuven Archives under each woman’s name.

21 For Aurelia Ptolemaïs, see Bagnall 1992. For archives of women resident in Jeme (Upper Egypt) during the seventh and eighth centuries AD and their business papers, see Wilfong 2002.

22 The archive of L. Pompeius Niger is listed in the Leuven Archives under “Pompeius Niger.”

23 Herennia’s letters to her father are SB VI 9122 and P.Mert. II 63; Thaubas’ letter is P.Fouad I 75, translated in Rowlandson 1998, 293-294.

24 For the eight-month child, see Hanson 1987.

25 That is, “you can see her mummy.”

26 In the Leuven Archives, these three are listed as follows: Tryphon weaver, Nemesion, Apollonius strategos. See also Rowlandson 1998, 112-118 (documents involving Tryphon’s first and second wives, Demetrous and Saraeus, and his mother, Thamounis, preserved with documents involving his weaving business), 326-327 (letter to Nemesion from his wife Thermouthis, preserved along with other personal letters and his business papers from the local tax office which he headed), and 118-124 (letters to Apollonios from his wife Aline, his mother Eudaimonis, and other members of this large household, interspersed with business papers from his time as chief official in the Roman bureaucracy of the Heptakomia). For the women of the Apollonios archive, see also Cribiore 2002.