Subias Pascual, Eva - Azara, Pedro - Carruesco, Jesús - Fiz, Ignacio - Cuesta, Rosa (ed.): The Space of the City in Graeco-Roman Egypt. Image and Reality. (Documenta ; 22). 222 p. : il·l. col. Text en anglès i francès, i resums en anglès., ISBN: 978-84-939033-5-0, Preu: 38€
(Institut Català d’Arqueologia Clàssica, Tarragona 2011)
Compte rendu par Ilona Skupinska-Lovset, University of Lodz, Poland

Nombre de mots : 998 mots
Publié en ligne le 2013-05-14
Citation: Histara les comptes rendus (ISSN 2100-0700).
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           This volume was created as a result of a workshop held in October 2010 at the Rovira i  Virgili University in Tarragona; its publication was supported jointly by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation and the Institut Català d’Arqueologia Clàssica. The volume contains articles by 12 contributors, 8 in English, the rest in French (2) and Spanish (2). The introduction is written by  Eva Subias. Abstracts are presented in English at the end of the volume. The authors represent various universities and other institutions of higher education across the world; papers are grouped chronologically and according to the subject they treat.


          The first essay (Pedro Azara) starts with a reference to cosmogony and deals with beliefs, internal life and psychology, giving an introduction into the many-faced culture of ancient Egypt and in particular  referring to the Divine source (Ptah) acting at the beginning of time. The  essay is difficult to comment on in full in a few words, because it is complex. The sentence supplied by the author on page 21, characterizes in a most general way the relationship between divine order and the order of a city as recalled in early Egyptian thinking:  “ The City stands for organization over nature, and the Egyptian organized world was fashioned as a city expanding over the original chaos, conceived in the shape of a primordial and uniform soup named nun.” 


          In chapter two (Chloé C. D. Raggazzoli) the psychological impasse of the creation story by the god Ptah is reviewed under the phrase “longing  for the city”.


         Next, the Greco-Roman period, the main topic of this publication, is treated.To begin with (Jesús Carruesco), the urban toponymy and the water management within a city are discussed, chiefly on examples taken from Oxyrhynchos;


           The next essay (Tim Whitmarsh) dwells on the question of the reception of the unfriendly attitude towards the Jewish population of Alexandria;


           It is followed by an essay (Myrto Malouta) on the relations between the town Antinopolis founded by Emperor Hadrian and the old town of Hermopolis situated nearby. Antinopolis was organized as a Greek city which caused difficulties in communication between these two as shown by the analysis of episodes mentioned in the Hermopolis papyri.


           Chapter 6 (Katherine Blouin) explains the role of the “cultural variable” in the research on the life of the cities Mendes and Thmuis, both situated in the Delta of the Nile, in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. The regional peculiarities in development of El-Fayyum and the Dakhla Oasis where settlements which are not

cities show some city characteristics, are presented as separate cases in the following (Paola Davoli).


          To the chapter on Oxyrhynchos (Eva Subias), described as an important Greco-Roman metropolis, is attached an appendix (Neus Gasull) presenting kite photographing, an easy and inexpensive way of area photographing to be used for providing documentation for the following analysis of size and shape of locally designed parcels. A hypothetical reconstruction of the urban pattern for Oxyrhynchos, according to the Alexandrine measuring units, is also presented. The chapter is instructively illustrated in color.


           Chapter 9  (Katja Mueller) treats today’s problem of the Fayyum area, a region characterized by a fast growth of the population, which effects the size of the agricultural area. This area is gradually, but constantly diminishing. It is a modern problem, which is discussed with relevance to the past, pointing to the repetition of main features through history.


          Chapter 10 ( Ignacio Fiz) deals with the reconstruction of the landscape of the Oxyrhynchos Nome using updated methods. It is connected with the next chapter (chapter 11 by Eva Subias, Ignacio Fiz y Rosa Cuesta ) as both chapters concentrate on landscape reconstruction of the territory of the Oxyrhynchos Nome and the Delta, although chapter 11 is presenting the problem in more general terms. New techniques such as remote sensing, GIS, multispectral analysis are presented to the reader, also in the form of instructive color photographs. Papers stress the importance of the integration of the study of ancient and present sources. The last chapter applies a geo-archaeological analysis.


          To sum up, the book presents varied, instructive ways of implementing new techniques in research, and promotes cooperation between science and the humanities.





Eva Subias, Presentation, pp. 9 -12

1.    Pedro Azara, Ptah, héros civilisateur ? pp. 13 - 20

2.    Chloé C. D. Raggazzoli,  Why Egyptians longed for their cities? City,nostalgia

and identity fashioning in the New Kingdom.  pp. 21 - 31

3.    Jesús Carruesco, Water, Toponymy, and the Image of the City in Graeco-Roman Egypt. pp. 33 - 39

4.    Tim Whitmarsh,  Pharaonic Alexandria: Ezekiel’s Exagogé and Political Allegory in Hellenistic Judaism. pp. 41 - 48         

5.    Myrto Malouta, Urban Connections: Arsinoe, Antinoopolis and Hermopolis in

the papyri. pp. 49 - 55

6.    Katherine Blouin, Les jumelles non identiques: Mendès et Thmouis aux

époques hellénistiue et romaine. pp. 57 - 67

7.    Paola Davoli, Reflections on Urbanism in Greco-Roman Egypt: a Historical

and Regional Perspective. pp. 69 - 92  

8.    Eva Subias, Oxyrhynchos: Metropolis and Landscape. pp. 93 - 116  

Neus Gasull : Appendix: Methodological contribution to the land parcelling

study; the case of Oxyrhynchos. pp. 117 - 128

9.    Katja Mueller, Past and Present Population Trends in the Fayyum region.  pp. 129 - 143

10.   Ignacio Fiz, Fuentes, cartografía, teledetección y SIG:  claves para reconstruir et paisaje del nomo oxirrinquita. pp. 145 - 186

11.   Eva Subias, Ignacio Fiz y Rosa Cuesta, Elementos dei paisaje del nomo oxirrinquita. pp. 187 - 210

12.   Judith Bunbury, The Development of the Capital Zone within the Nile Floodplain. pp. 211 – 217

Abstracts  pp. 219 – 222.