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Title: Debt in Late Antique Egypt, 400-700 CE : approaches to a time in transition
Author: Buchanan, Elizabeth Fuller
ISNI:       0000 0004 6062 099X
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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Modern scholars are deeply divided over the extent to which early Byzantine provinces such as Egypt adopted imperial Roman law. This thesis undertook a diachronic study of the published debt acknowledgements from Egypt and Nessana for the fifth through seventh centuries CE to examine the degree of adoption of imperial legal changes. The debt acknowledgements are one of the largest sets of papyri documents for this period, consisting of 283 Greek and fifty-seven Coptic documents. Having created a database of these documents, in their original Greek or Coptic plus an English translation and information from the major commentaries, I had an unparalleled opportunity to analyse change, both legal and socio-economic. The research shows that while many legal changes, including the requirement for regnal dating and changes in the liability of co-debtors, were generally adopted, there was resistance to other changes. For example, the interest rate reduction ordered by Justinian I in 528 was clearly disseminated because some documents reflect the reduction. Most people, however, continued to charge the earlier higher rates. Furthermore, some sectors of the population appear to have struggled with the imperial changes. Model formats for a simplified Greek debt acknowledgement and a very similar Coptic debt acknowledgement were developed and disseminated in the sixth century. These simplified formats did not use regnal dating or many of the other customary clauses of the formal Greek debt acknowledgment. The early development of these simplified formats, together with evidence of the privatisation and localisation of many imperial functions, including dispute resolution, support the view that the later sixth century experienced an unravelling of ties with the Roman Empire. The catastrophic seventh century, with its civil wars and Persian and Arab invasions, resulted in a shift in language from Greek to Coptic for personal legal documents. The disruption of the seventh century, however, only accelerated and finalised a process of change that was already well established in the sixth century.
Supervisor: Whittow, Mark ; Sirks, Boudewijn Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Roman law--History ; Debt ; Finance--Egypt--History ; Commerce--Egypt--History ; Egypt--History--30 B.C.-640 A.D