REVIEW of Richard Alston, Onno van Nijf (ed.), Feeding the Ancient Greek City.
Richard Alston, Onno van Nijf (ed.), Feeding the Ancient Greek City. Groningen-Royal Holloway Studies on the Greek City after the Classical Age 1. Leuven: Peeters Publishers, 2008. Pp. x, 207. ISBN 9789042920378. €75.00.
Reviewed by Brian Rutishauser, Fresno City College (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Richard Alston, Introduction 1
Chapter 1. John Bintliff, Considerations on agricultural scale-economies in the Greco-Roman world 17
Chapter 2. R.J. (Bert) van der Spek, Feeding Hellenistic Seleucia on the Tigris and Babylon 33
Chapter 3. Gocha R. Tsetskhladze, 'Grain for Athens'. The view from the Black Sea 47
Chapter 4. Andrea U. De Giorgi, Town and country in Roman Antioch 63
Chapter 5. Laurens E. Tacoma, Urbanisation and access to land in Roman Egypt 85
Chapter 6. Paul Erdkamp, Grain funds and market intervention in the Roman World 109
Chapter 7. Kaja Harter-Uibopuu, Hadrian and the Athenian Oil Law 127
Chapter 8. Christina Kokkinia, Grain for Cibyra. Veranius Philagros and the 'great conspiracy' 143
Chapter 9. Arjan Zuiderhoek, Feeding the Citizens. Municipal grain funds and civic benefactors in the Roman East 159
Harry W. Pleket, Epilogue 181
This is the paragraph relevant for Egypt:
Laurens Tacoma shifts the perspective to Roman Egypt and to the question land ownership by urban dwellers. Egypt possessed over 50 urban centers (although not all had city rights), and evidence from papyri has been used by various scholars to make a wide range of population estimates. Tacoma provides a formula for the calculation of levels of urbanization based on such variables as inhabited area and population density, and calculates a rough level of 20 percent for Egypt overall (a high figure, as the author admits). Land registers from Hermopolis give a figure of just over 25 percent of all cultivable land in the Hermopolite nome being in the hands of inhabitants of the town, making it theoretically possible that the urbanites could feed themselves from the produce of their own holdings--yet the actual proportion of urban landowners was smaller than these numbers would suggest, with a substantial number of them classifiable as smallholders. In the Hermopolite registers most lands in urban hands were also within walking distance of the town center. Lease contracts from Oxyrhynchos show a large number of intra-urban leases, which Tacoma takes as an indication of the existence of a large pool of urban laborers who worked holdings but did not own them. Thus, the number of urban dwellers with "direct access" to local food supplies was very low, and this made large urban centers in Egypt more vulnerable to crises than smaller communities.