Tax on Catoecic Land

τέλος καταλοχισμῶν


  1. Structure
  2. Format
  3. Layout

In the Ptolemaic period the procedure for the transmission of catoecic land (known then as cleruchic land) was managed by military offices [Schubert 2019 : 296] and conformed to the standard [official letter] for the period [Ferretti et al. 2020 : 206-209].


In the Roman period the transmission was managed by an officer called syntaktikos (presumably συντακτικὸς γραμματεύς ‘secretary of the arrangement’ [Ferretti et al. 2020 : 207], a remnant of the γραμματεὺς συντάξεως attested in the Ptolemaic period, [754293 138 BCE, Herakleopolite nome]). The officer in charge of the new enrollment notified the syntaktikos of the transfer of a plot of catoecic land to a new tenant. These are notices of change of registration (μετεπιγραφή) and are attested in the II CE [15112 124 CE, Arsinoite nome; 9474 169 CE, Philadelphia; 12167 179 CE, Arsinoite nome].


Between the late II and early III CE, in place of a notice of change of registration, tax receipts were issued. The transmission was now liable to a tax called τέλος καταλοχισμῶν ‘tax on enrollment’, a generic term covering τέλος μετεπιγραφῆς ‘tax for change of registration’ [11419 182-192 CE; 11271 206 CE, both Arsinoite nome] and τέλος γνωστείας ‘tax for registration through witnesses’ [15120 204 CE, Arsinoite nome; 9494 222 CE, Philadelphia]; the precise label of the tax is not always specified [14637 181 CE, Soknopaiou Nesos]. A complete analysis of the processes involved can be found in [Schubert 2019].


These Roman documents, the notice of change of registration (μετεπιγραφή) and the tax on enrollment (τέλος καταλοχισμῶν), are presented in an epistolary form. They retain the characteristics of a Ptolemaic period [official letter], most specifically, they are drawn up in transversa charta format, unusual for the Roman period. This reflects the consistency of the procedure over time [Ferretti et al. 2020 : 209].


Most surviving documents come from the Arsinoite nome. One tax receipt survives from the Oxyrhynchite nome and is in pagina format [17440 196 CE, Oxyrhynchite nome]. This could suggest that the transversa charta format was abandoned here, but the evidence is too scarce to allow for any firm conclusion.


For other types of tax on catoecic land see [monartabos tax].



The receipt for the τέλος καταλοχισμῶν has an epistolary opening address [from name (tax collector) <nom.>] [to name <dat.>] [χαίρειν] [14637]. The tax is often paid through a representative [διά name <gen.> βοηθοῦ ] ‘through N, assistant’ [11419], or [διά name <gen.> πραγματευτοῦ] ‘through N, agent’ [14637; 9270 182 CE, Karanis, the same tax farmer and agent in both cases]. The official then acknowledges the payment of the tax, διέγραψάς μοι τέλος μετεπιγραφῆς ‘you have paid to me the tax on change of registration’ [11271; 11419] or διέγραψάς μοι τέλος γνωστίας ‘you have paid to me the tax for registration through witnesses’ [15120; 9494]. A description of the property can be added [9270 l.8], along with a payment amount [13514 l.19-20, 197 CE, Tebtunis].


A closing salutation [ἔρρωσο] may be found before the [date@end] [11271; 15120]. There may also be a signature [11271; 14913 230 CE, Ptolemais Euergetis].



These Roman period tax receipts are predominantly found in transversa charta format with vertical fibres [15120; 14637] but there are also examples in pagina format, with horizontal fibres [13514; 17440].



In many examples the text is written as a single block with no distinguishing features [9494; 41587 212-215 CE, Karanis]. Some scribes have written the first line in ekthesis to the rest of the text [14637]. One document has a vacat at the end of the main text preceding an indented signature [14913]. A neatly written receipt from Soknopaiou Nesos has wide margins and an x-type line filler after the date [15120]. Receipts in pagina format appear to have writing only on one third or two-thirds of the sheet [9270; 17440; 28609 II CE, Theadelphia]. One example has very long lines [41587].


How to Cite

Ferretti, L., Fogarty, S., Nury, E., Schubert, P. Description of Greek Documentary Papyri: Receipt on Tax for Catoecic Land. grammateus project. DOI: 10.26037/yareta:rzq3dgvfzjchjjwckmkxdpbcle