Sitologos Receipt


  1. Structure
  2. Format
  3. Layout
  4. Monartabos Tax receipt

The sitologos was the official in charge of the administration of taxes paid in-kind on different categories of land. The office was a liturgical one in the Roman period (see [Nomination to Liturgy] and [Lewis 1997 : 45]), and the sitologos was responsible for the local granary (θησαυρός) of a particular area. The sitologos received tax grain directly from the threshing floors, issued receipts, and provided a regular report to the strategos (see [21360 223 CE, Oxyrhynchus] and [16560 242 CE, Oxyrhynchus] for a list of duties, usually performed by a subordinate). For an overview of the collection of grain tax see [Wallace 1938 : 31-46].


While the sitologos was responsible for this public service, there was also a large stock of private grain held in public granaries which he administered, enabling “giro” type transfers into and out of private stocks or accounts, rather like a bank. Indeed [Order to Pay] addressed to a sitologos from a private individual are composed in the same way as those addressed to a banker.


This overview contains a description of sitologos receipts issued for the payment of land taxes, as well as receipts issued for some private transactions, i.e. metrema receipts and diastolikon receipts, the latter issued following an original order to transfer an amount from one account to another for the payment of rent, dues, or other payments. For more information on these private receipts, see [Litinas 2007] with bibliography. Receipts issued by the sitologos for the payment of tax on catoecic land are treated separately, see [monartabos tax].



Taxes on land were assessed according to the type of land and the size of the harvest. Official tax receipts carry the date of issue at the beginning of the document followed by a statement from the sitologoi, usually with the main verb in the first person plural, e.g. [12198 II CE, Karanis; 12333 II CE, Tebtunis].


Some Ptolemaic sitologos receipts are composed as objective statements in the form of a [syngraphe], with an infinitive construction, e.g. [43263 II BCE, Soknopaiou Nesos;3124 II BCE, Hermopolite nome; 22229 I CE, Oxyrhynchus]: [date@start] [ὁμολογεῖ...μεμετρῆ(σθαι)] [παρὰ name <gen.> (taxpayer)], followed by an [amount <acc.>] written first in words and then numerically. An ἀντιγραφεύς or clerk signs to say that he has checked the amount and adds a [date@end].


Receipts issued for private transactions (metrema receipts) can be distinguished by the use of the verb in the third person μεμέ(τρηται), e.g. [78619 II CE, Oxyrhynchite nome], although the abbreviation has been resolved variously as μεμέ(τρηνται) and μεμέ(τρηκεν); on this see [Litinas 2007 : 196 n.3, 197 n.7]. There is usually no date of issue for this receipt, but there is always mention made of the year of the harvest from which the amount is to be taken.


Other receipts are structured around the verb διαστέλλω. These diastolikon receipts record a transfer of grain from privately held stocks in the public granary; they follow an original order to pay addressed to the sitologos (see [Order to Pay]). They are almost identical in structure to the metrema receipts, but record a (virtual) transfer of grain rather than a payment, and name both the payer and payee, e.g. [114268 175-176 CE, Oxyrhynchite nome; 15653 216 CE, Oxyrhynchus].



All shapes of papyri are found: pagina format e.g. [11653 III CE, Herakleia; 10210 II CE, Theadelphia; 22229] (horizontal fibres), [11812 II CE, Nilopolis] (vertical fibres), transversa charta [15943 III CE, Oxyrhynchus], or in this orientation with horizontal fibres [11256, 15048], and squarish [9329 II CE, Herakleia] (horizontal fibres),[11732 III CE, Nilopolis] (vertical fibres). The sheet with the single receipt of [3124] has a large left- hand margin to which is attached part of another blank sheet, and the same is apparent at the right-hand edge. Another receipt also has a blank sheet attached to the left-hand edge [9562 II CE, Euhemeria], and there are kolleseis visible on [20672 II CE, Oxyrhynchus] and [78622 II CE, Oxyrhynchite nome].



The text of these receipts is usually laid out on the sheet in a single block, often with an enlarged first letter e.g. ἔτους [11732; 9314 III CE, Karanis], διεστάλ(ησαν) [16905 I CE, Oxyrhynchite nome]; there is little use of ekthesis or eisthesis. Occasionally the statement of transmission is separated from the main text [9513 II CE, Philadelphia], or written in ekthesis [11265 I CE, Philadelphia]. Often there is a large bottom margin, e.g. [10210; 12199 II CE, Karanis; 11694 II CE, Bakchias].


There can be more than one receipt on a single sheet: [11674 I CE, Arsinoite nome] has three receipts in a single column, evenly spaced apart; [78622] carries ten receipts in two columns, also evenly spaced apart, written by seven different hands. The second column of [9105 II CE, Herakleia] records a money payment and is narrower than the first column, a characteristic noted in letters of more than one column (see [Sarri 2018 : 112]).

Monartabos Tax receipt

Receipt for tax on catoecic land applied at the rate of one artaba per aroura (μονάρταβος γῆ).


The category of cleruchic or catoecic land, i.e. plots (kleroi) attributed to military settlers in the Ptolemaic period, was still in existence in the Roman period, although it bore no relation to the army anymore. It retained, however, a taxation rate distinct from that applied to other categories of land. In some cases, especially in the Arsinoite nome, catoecic land was described as monartabos, i.e. ‘(taxed at the rate of) one artaba (per aroura)’ [P.Köln IV : 196]. In modern editions, the corresponding tax is sometimes referred to as monartabia [e.g. 15932 III CE, Oxyrhynchus], following [Wallace 1938 : 13], but the word is nowhere attested in papyri, which carry only monartabos (scil. kleros) [17391 l.29, 31, 247 CE; 17008 l.18, III CE, both Oxyrhynchus] or artabeia [10941 II CE, Theadelphia (rent receipt); 11549 125 CE, Tebtunis], see [P.Diog : 131-132]. Therefore, it seems preferable to refer here to the tax on catoecic land at the rate of one artaba per aroura.


For the most part, catoecic land consisted of wheat land. Sitologoi produced many kinds of receipts, but only a few, scattered through the I-II CE, pertain to monartabos ge: four of them come from the Arsinoite nome, and a fifth from the Herakleopolite nome. For other types of tax on catoecic land see [Tax on Catoecic Land: τέλος καταλοχισμῶν].


These receipts are similar in structure to other sitologoi receipts. However, receipts from the Arsinoite and Herakleopolite nomes differ from each other: those from the Arsinoite are written in the form of a statement from the sitologoi; the only remaining Herakleopolite receipt displays an opening address in letter form.


Arsinoite nome [9349 I CE, Karanis; 9430 I CE]:


Herakleopolite nome [23281 I CE]:


The preserved receipts do not reflect a consistent practice regarding format. There seems to be a preference for the pagina format [9430, 9349, 23281], but one receipt displays a squarish shape [14446]. The same applies to fibre direction: contrary to the usual practice of writing in the direction of fibres, [9430] was initially cut from a roll in the shape of a horizontal rectangle, then turned at a right angle in order to be used in the pagina format (there is a horizontal kollesis across the middle of the sheet), with the writing at a right angle in relation to the fibres.


Here again, the preserved examples show little consistency. The sheet may contain one [9349] or several [9430] receipts; and the text may cover the whole surface of the sheet [14446], or only a smaller area, leaving a blank space before and after the text [9349]. A left margin is sometimes provided [9430, 14446]. When a date appears at the beginning of the text, the initial epsilon of ἔτους is often enlarged.


How to Cite

Ferretti, L., Fogarty, S., Nury, E., Schubert, P. Description of Greek Documentary Papyri: Sitologos Receipt. grammateus project. DOI: 10.26037/yareta:bwzzphoysjduja5qclcjmhhmqa