Oxyrhynchus in Egypt is the best documented city of the Roman Empire. This book uses the thousands of papyrus documents found there to examine how its urban landowning class derived its wealth from the rural hinterland. After an introductory chapter discussing the topography and agricultural conditions of the region, the book analyses the conditions of tenure under which land was held; the social composition of landholders (who included both men and women) and the nature of their holdings; the transmission of ownership by inheritance and sale; and finally the role of short-term leasing among methods of land management. The system of land tenure, rules of inheritance, and law of sale and lease, together with social convention formed a complex web articulating the social relationships between landowners and tenants. The papyri from Oxyrhynchus, by illustrating in detail how individuals negotiated their way throug this web, provide unparalleled insight into the character of landownership in a Roman province.
Publisher: Oxford University Press