Glossary of technical terms in documents

Most ancient inscriptions and papyri were not written with the general reader in mind, and they can contain a bewildering number of obscure words - local magistrates, officials and other technical terms. This list gives the meaning of some of the more unusual words, which cannot be found in wikipedia.   There is another, similar glossary of terms on the CGRN website.

The glossary provides links to up to three occurrences of each word. More occurrences can be found by using Search Ancient Texts .

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Ager Limitatus   : public land marked out by lines (limites), usually for the purpose of assignment to colonists.   See: CIL_1.636

Agonothete   : an official in charge of the arrangements for public games.   See: Syll_330 , Syll_401 , Syll_410

Agorastes   : "buyer", an official who acted on behalf of foreign states, for instance by arranging funerals for any of their citizens who died while abroad.   See: OGIS_36

Agoratroi   : officials sent to the Amphictyonic council by Greek states, in addition to the hieromnemones; perhaps identical to the officials called "pylagoroi".  See: Syll_399 , Syll_436 , Syll_444

Amphodarchy   : a numbered district (ward or quarter) under the superintendence of an official called an amphodarch.   See: SelPap_2.320

Akaina   : a Thessalian measurement of length, equivalent to 10 feet.   See: SEG_43.311

Anataktes   : "assessor", a financial official in Miletos.   See: THI_98 , OGIS_213 , Syll_633

Anabolicum   : "deferment", an imperial tax levied upon certain of the goods manufactured in Egypt, and payable in kind or in money.   See: SelPap_2.384

Anouchi   : an Egyptian word meaning some kind of brushwood.   See: SelPap_2.348

Antiblemata   : stones inserted in the gaps in the masonry of a building.   See: SelPap_1.19

Antichresis   : substitution of usufruct for interest on a loan.   See: SelPap_1.65

Apomoira   : a tax of one-sixth, or in some cases one-tenth, of the produce of vineyards and orchards, formerly paid to Egyptian temples, which was appropriated by Ptolemaeus II and applied nominally to the maintenance of the cult of the deified Arsinoē.   See: SelPap_2.233 , SelPap_2.377

Archidicastes   : a judicial officer in Alexandria, one of whose functions was to legalise formal agreements.   See: SelPap_1.5

Aroura   : a measurement of area in Ptolemaic Egypt, approximately 2,756 m≤.   See: AET_6.15

Artisteres   : "adjusters", a board of officials in Phocis.   See: THI_73

Astynomos   : a magistrate at Athens and elsewhere, responsible for enforcing building regulations and cleanliness within the city.   See: SEG_48.1037 , Syll_375 , Syll_645.E

Asylia   : "inviolability". This is a complex word, which can apply to individuals, temples or whole cities - K.J.Rigsby has written a book about what it meant in Hellenistic times.   See: Syll_325 , Syll_355 , Syll_357

Athlophoros   : "prize-bearer", the title of an eponymous priestess at Alexandria.   See: THI_18 , SelPap_1.37

Athlothete   : an official in charge of public games, similar to an agonothete.   See: THI_127 , Syll_313

Aulode   : a performer who played a flute, analogous to a citharode or a rhapsode.   See: Syll_457

Basilistai   : "royalists", an association worshipping the Ptolemaic kings as gods.   See: GRA_4747 , OGIS_130

Beneficiarius   : a soldier enjoying a privileged status by favour of his commander.   See: SelPap_1.122 , SelPap_2.232 , SelPap_2.355

Bit Ritti   : in Babylonia, a grant of temple land with legal provisions (described by Paola Corò ).

Boularchos   : "chairman of the council", an official in Aetolia and some cities of Asia Minor.   See: THI_22 , THI_46

Cancellus   : a measure of capacity, similar to an artaba.   See: SelPap_2.308

Canon   : the regulation concerning the provision of wheat for Constantinople.   See: SelPap_2.308

Catholicus   : "supervisor of accounts", the chief financial official in Egypt during Byzantine times.   See: SelPap_2.227 , SelPap_2.294 , SelPap_2.355

Chalkous   : a copper coin of small value - one tenth obol, one 60th or 40th of a drachma.   See: SelPap_2.372 , SelPap_2.399 , Teles_13

Chief of Artificers   : { wer-kherep-hemut }, a traditional title of the High Priest of Ptah in Memphis.   See: AET_4.11 , AET_4.13 , AET_4.23

Chlanis   : a mantle worn by both sexes; a derivative of chlamys, made of finer wool and worn on festive occasions.   See: SEG_43.212B

Choachyte   : "libation pourer", an Egyptian mortuary priest whose duties included taking care of mummies, and offering food and drink to the dead.   See: AET_6.4 , AET_7.8 , AET_7.13

Chrematistai   : in Ptolemaic Egypt, a board of assize judges; in Roman times a tribunal in Alexandria.   See: SelPap_2.210 , SelPap_2.264 , SelPap_2.299

Cleruch   : a holder of a grant of land, usually, but not necessarily, a soldier.   See: SelPap_1.31 , SelPap_2.229 , SelPap_2.412

Cnecus   : safflower, cultivated for the oil extracted from its seeds.   See: SelPap_2.203 ,

Comarch   : "village officer".   See: SelPap_2.203 , SelPap_2.390 , SelPap_2.430

Cosmetes   : "director", a municipal magistrate during Roman times, with responsibility for superintending the ephebi.   See: SelPap_1.15 , SelPap_2.241 , SelPap_2.359

Decadarch   : "leader of ten ", in Ptolemaic times, a foreman of workmen or other employees, but in Roman times usually a military title.   See: SelPap_1.157

Decemprimi   : "ten leaders", members of the local senates elected to supervise the collection of the corn dues and for other services.   See: SelPap_1.146 , SelPap_2.294 , SelPap_2.355

Decuria   : "group of ten", a body of citizens, nominally ten in number, represented by a decurion.   See: CIL_1.1313

Decussis   : "figure ten", an X shape, two lines crossing.   See: CIL_1.639

Defensor   : a municipal magistrate in the Byzantine period, whose nominal duty was to protect the citizens against oppression.   See: SelPap_1.9 , SelPap_2.297

Demarch   : the chief magistrate of a deme in Attica.   See: THI_39 , SEG_41.75 , Syll_356

Demiourgos   : a public magistrate in some Greek states (damiorgos in the Doric spelling).   See: SEG_17.639 , Syll_360 , Syll_594

Diadochi   : "successors", an honorific title under the later Ptolemaic rulers.   See: OGIS_100 , OGIS_102 , SelPap_1.83

Dicaeodotes   the chief judge in Roman Egypt, who acted as assistant to the praefect.   See: SelPap_1.117

Dies Augustus   : anniversary of a birthday or other notable event in the life of the Imperial family.   See: SelPap_1.12 , SelPap_2.380

Dioiketes   : "treasurer", the chief minister of finance in Egypt during Ptolemaic times; in Roman Egypt, a financial administrator of more restricted scope; and in the Seleucid kingdom, a local financial official.   See: SelPap_1.39 , SelPap_2.397 , SelPap_2.430

Dromos   : "course", a sacred avenue leading to an Egyptian temple.   See: AET_7.12 , AET_8.9 , AET_8.10

Duplicarius   : a soldier receiving double pay.   See: SelPap_2.387

Eisagogeus   : "introducer", an official responsible for the initiation of legal proceedings; in Egypt, responsible for liaison between the Greek courts and the native Egyptian courts.   See: AET_7.32 , SEG_29.1130 , SelPap_2.256A

Ekklesiastikon   : payment for attending popular assemblies.   See: SEG_40.959 , and also Arist:AthPol_41

Elogium   : a brief summary of a person's achievements, for an epitaph or the base of a statue.   See: Elogia

Epidamiorgos   : an official in the cities of Delphi, Ithaca and Sparta.   See: Syll_532.B , Syll_558 , OGIS_305

Epigonus   : "offspring", a soldier's son enrolled in the Ptolemaic army in a special class.   See: SelPap_2.391

Epimeletes   : "superintendent", a title of various officials at various periods.   See: OGIS_46 , SelPap_2.271 , SelPap_2.273

Epimenios   : "monthly officer", a magistrate in some Greek cities.   See: THI_140 , OGIS_4 , SEG_51.1050

Essenes   : priests or functionaries of the temple of Artemis at Ephesus.   See: Syll_352 , Syll_354, Syll_363

Eutheniarch   : "prosperity officer", a municipal magistrate, responsible for the food supply.   See: SelPap_2.237 , SelPap_2.326

Exactor   : superintendent of the collection of taxes.   See: SelPap_2.240

Exegetes   : "adviser", a municipal magistrate during Roman times, exercising various functions and regulating questions of civil status.   See: SelPap_2.241 , SelPap_2.279 , SelPap_2.359

Exetastes   : "examiner, auditor", the name of an official at Athens, and a magistrate in some other Greek cities.   See: Syll_362 , Syll_402 , Syll_412

Exsecutor   : an official who served a summons and saw to the prosecution of a lawsuit.   See: SelPap_2.252

Gnomon   : the Greek word for a list of rules.   See: SelPap_2.206

Guai   : a unit of land measurement; one guēs was equivalent to about 50 schoinoi.   See: THI_186

Hegetor   : a priest of Aphrodite in Cyprus.   See: THI_219

Hekatontarch   : commander of a group of 100 soldiers, equivalent to the Roman centurion.   See: AET_6.7

Hieromnemon   : the official representative of a Greek state in the Amphictyonic council and other religious bodies.   See: Syll_405 , Syll_406 , Syll_415

Hieropoios   : "overseer of sacred rites", a magistrate in various Greek states.   See: Syll_340 , Syll_583 , Syll_584

Hierothytes   : "sacrificing priest", the title of a priest or magistrate in some Greek cities.   See: Syll_492 , Syll_765 , THI_62

Hin   : an Egyptian measure of volume, especially of liquids; equivalant to a tenth of a hekat.   See: AET_7.22

Hipparchy   : a regiment of cavalry in the Ptolemaic army.   See: SelPap_2.270 , SelPap_2.275 , SelPap_2.349

Hyparchy   : a subdivision of a satrapy in the Seleucid empire.   See: OGIS_238 , THI_29

Hypomnematographus   : "memorandum-writer", in Ptolemaic times one of the royal secretaries; in Roman times usually an Alexandrian magistrate who assisted the praefect in his judicial functions.   See: OGIS_740 , SelPap_2.237 , SelPap_2.307

Hypostoloi   : local assistants in the worship of Egyptian gods within Greek cities.   See: THI_154

Hydrophoros   : "water-bearer", a young priestess serving in the temple at Didyma.   See: OGIS_226

Idiologos   "private account", in Roman times the administrator of the private account of the emperor, and (apart from the praefect) the chief financial authority in Egypt.   See: SelPap_2.206 , SelPap_2.301

Irenarch   : "peace officer", an official responsible for public security in his district.   See: SelPap_2.341

Isionomos   : an official or priest in the cult of Isis.   See: AET_7.11

Juridicus   : an important judge who acted as assessor to the praefect.   See: SelPap_2.263 , SelPap_2.279

Kalasiris   : a type of soldier in the Egyptian army.   See: AET_7.7

Karpologos   : "produce reckoner", a financial official in some Greek cities   See: THI_90

Katoikos   : in Ptolemaic Egypt, a soldier holding a grant of land; in the Roman period an owner of land which had originally been granted to military settlers.   See: SelPap_1.4 , SelPap_1.40 , SelPap_2.313

Kophinos   : "basket", a measure of volume, a fraction (perhaps 3/16) of a medimnos.   See: SEG_43.205

Kosmos   : "regulator", a magistrate (or group of magistrates) in the cities of Crete.   See: Syll_524 , THI_34 , OGIS_270

Kouretes   : a group of officials, connected to the temple of Artemis at Ephesus.   See: Syll_353

Kypros   : a measurement of grain, approximately equivalent to two modii.   See: Syll_302

Lampadarch   : "torch officer", a special class of young men trained, perhaps for military service, in the gymnasium.   See: SelPap_2.275

Laographi   : "people-listers", officials who kept the register of persons liable to poll-tax.   See: SelPap_2.229

Lesonis   : an important official in Egyptian temples.   See: AET_6.7 , AET_7.13 , AET_7.17

Libellus   : in Roman and Byzantine times, a petition.   See: SelPap_2.250 , SelPap_2.251 , SelPap_2.252

Logistes   : "accountant", in Byzantine times a magistrate having financial and administrative authority over a nome.   See: SelPap_2.227 , SelPap_2.332, SelPap_2.374

Mastroi   : "searchers", originally accountants; but later a name given to councillors, especially at Rhodes.   See: Syll_338 , Syll_339 , Syll_340

Matrona Stolata   : "married woman wearing a stola", a woman belonging to the provincial, usually equestrian, aristocracy.   See: SelPap_1.36

Mnaiaion or Mnaieion   : properly, the amount of gold worth a mina of silver, which was probably about an octadrachm.   See: SelPap_1.5 , SEG_32.371

Monarchos   : the eponymous magistrate on the island of Kos.   See: THI_15 , THI_45 , Syll_528.C

Mountain copper   : probably brass, i.e. an alloy of copper and zinc.   See: SelPap_1.86

Myriad   : as a sum of money - 10,000 denarii.   See: SelPap_1.164 , SelPap_2.227

Neopoiēs   : "temple warden", an official in various Greek cities. The Doric form of the word was naopoios.   See: : Syll_352 , Syll_568 , THI_12

Night-strategus   : a minor official, in charge of the night watch.   See: SelPap_2.296

Nomarch   : "district officer", an official exercising various functions in a special district.   See: SelPap_2.203 , SelPap_2.282 , SelPap_2.348

Nomophylax   : "guardian of the law", plural nomophylakes: in classical Athens, see OCD; in some Hellenistic cities, a board of magistrates; in Egypt, a village official and kind of policeman.   See: SEG_48.1404 , SelPap_2.243 , Syll_282 , THI_213

Numerus   : "number", in Byzantine times a military force quartered in one of the large towns.   See: SelPap_1.30 , SelPap_1.86, SelPap_2.396

Oblate   : in Babylonia, a person dedicated to a god as a temple slave.   See: CT_4,29d , BM_87261

Octadrachm   : a coin equivalent to eight drachmae; also called "mina-piece", because its normal value was reckoned at 1 mina of silver.   See: SelPap_2.234

Oikonomos   : "steward", the chief financial official in nomes and smaller districts of Egypt during Ptolemaic times.   See: SelPap_2.203 , SelPap_2.207 , SelPap_2.397

Olyra   : a grain, which may have been spelt, rye or oats.   See: SelPap_2.264 , SelPap_2.347 , SelPap_2.398

Oregma   : a unit of land measurement at Herakleia; 30 oregmata were equivalent to 1 schoinos.   See: THI_186

Pagarch   : "district officer", in Byzantine times the administrator of a district, usually a local landowner, appointed by the emperor.   See: SelPap_1.25 , SelPap_2.218 , SelPap_2.240

Paidonomoi   officials in Greek cities, responsible for the training of boys who were younger than ephebes.   See: THI_127 , THI_175 , OGIS_764

Panegyriarch   an official in Greek cities, appointed to oversee the conduct of festivals.   See: RC_53

Pentadrachm   : "five drachmae", a gold coin in Ptolemaic times, with a nominal value of 3 gold staters or 60 silver drachmae.   See: SelPap_2.409

Phosphoros   : "torch-bearer", a priestess of Cleopatra III of Egypt, established in 116 B.C.   See: AET_7.12

Phyle   : "tribe", one of 4 or 5 subdivisions of the priestly caste in ancient Egypt.   See: AET_4.4 , AET_4.6 , AET_4.7

Poletai   : "sellers", financial officials in some Greek cities, with particular responsility for letting out contracts.   See: SEG_48.1092 , SEG_48.1404 , Syll_528.C

Polianomoi   : magistrates at Herakleia, with responsility for public property.   See: THI_186

Praefect   : "prefect", usually denotes the Roman governor of Egypt, appointed by the emperor, but sometimes refers to lesser officers.   See: SelPap_1.119 , SelPap_2.243 , SelPap_2.258

Praepositus pagi   : administrator of a district, appointed by the local senate.   See: SelPap_2.344 , SelPap_2.427 , SelPap_2.345

Prebend   : in Babylonia, a legal title that outlined a personís role in a temple cult, and confirmed his rights of remuneration.   See: OECT_09,24 , OECT_09,42 , TCL 13, 236

Praktor (xenikōn)   : a financial official, usually with responsibility for exacting fines.   See: PCairZen_59367 , SelPap_2.256A

Princeps Officii   : in late Roman and Byzantine times, the head of the bureau of the governor (praeses).   See: SelPap_1.190 , SelPap_2.251 , SelPap_2.252

Probouloi   : "(committee of) men deliberating beforehand", the chief magistrates at Eretria and some other cities.   See: Syll_714 , THI_38 , THI_119

Promnamon   : "leader of the recorders", a president in Acarnania.   See: Syll_669

Pythochrestos Exegetes   : an Athenian religious official, supposedly appointed by Pythian Apollo, to advise on purification rituals.   See: Syll_697.E

Quarter   : a weight used in weighing gold, one quarter of a gold stater.   See: SelPap_1.4 , SelPap_1.5 , SelPap_1.187

Quattuorviri   : a board of four magistrates in Italian towns, consisting of two duumviri and two aediles.   See: CIL_1.592

Quinquevir   : member of a board of five, for the distribution of land and other purposes.   See: CIL_6.1312 , CIL_6.3826

Riparii   : "river-bank men", a class of police officers.   See: SelPap_2.228 , SelPap_2.296 , SelPap_2.408

Schoenion   : a measurement of length, about 50 yards.   See: SelPap_2.346 , SelPap_2.348

Singularis   : an orderly attached to a military commander or to a civil governor.   See: SelPap_2.251 , SelPap_2.252

Sitagertai   : magistrates at Herakleia, with responsility for the supply of wheat.   See: THI_186

Sitologi   : "corn-counters", officials who received deliveries of corn and kept account of the amounts delivered and measured out.   See: SelPap_2.243 , SelPap_2.366 , SelPap_2.373

Stathmos   : "stage", official lodgings, or a station on a road, or the distance of a day's journey - equivalent to approximately 4 or 5 Persian parasangs (about 28 kilometres). In Egypt, the dwelling-place allocated to a military settler.   See: PCairZen_59344 , Polyaen_4.3'19, SelPap_1.38A

Stele   : "pillar", an upright slab (usually of stone) containing engravings or carved inscriptions. Many photographs of 'squeezes' are available on the CSAD website.

Stemmata   : "garlands", a word of uncertain meaning; perhaps municipal guilds, or it may refer to the crowning of magistrates upon entering office.   See: SelPap_2.292 , SelPap_2.371

Stephanephoros   : "garland-wearer", the eponymous magistrate of Miletus, Magnesia and other cities; the title could also be given to high-ranking priests.   See: Syll_322 , Syll_589 , OGIS_332

Stolistes   : an Egyptian temple attendant who clothed the sacred images.   See: AET_5.2 , SelPap_1.104 , SelPap_2.425

Strategos   : "general", the governor of a nome or smaller district in Egypt and other Hellenistic kingdoms; also, the chief magistrate in some Greek states.   See: SelPap_2.210 , SelPap_2.241 , SelPap_2.419

Symmachic   : "alliance (silver)", a standard coinage used in Central Greece during the Hellenistic period.   See: Syll_826 , THI_221

Tabularius   : in Roman times, an official clerk.   See: SelPap_1.159

Taktomisthos   : a word of doubtful meaning, applied to a certain class of soldiers in Ptolemaic documents.   See: SelPap_1.1A , SelPap_1.37 , SelPap_2.363

Tarantinarchos   : "commander of the Tarantines", a commander of light cavalry in various Greek states.   See: Syll_697 , THI_127

Techerere   : an Egyptian word for part of a house below the stair.   See: SelPap_1.30

Tesserarius   : an officer of low rank who gave out the watchword.   See: SelPap_2.345

Tetarteus   : a measure of volume, one quarter of a medimnos; equivalent to about 13 litres.   See: THI_131

Tetrarch   : generally, "one of four rulers", but in Macedonia it was a military rank, either the commander of a quarter of a phalanx, or the commander of four lochoi.   See: THI_59

Theokolos   : "servant of god", title of a priest at Dyme in Achaea.   See: Syll_529 , Syll_530

Thesmophylakes   : "guardians of the law", magistrates in some Boeotian cities.   See: SEG_32.456 , THI_125 , THI_127

Thesmothete   : a judicial officer at Athens, one of six appointed each year.   See: Syll_347 , Syll_371 , Syll_409

Timouchoi   : "honour bearers", title of magistrates in some Ionian cities.   See: OGIS_309 , SEG_44.949 , THI_44

Toparch   : "local officer", an official serving in a small local district, subordinate to the nomarch.   See: SelPap_1.27 , SelPap_2.322 , SelPap_2.419

Topogrammateus   : a district scribe in Egypt (see also toparch).   See: PCairZen_59834

Trittyarch   : the leader of a third division of an Athenian tribe [trittys].   See: Syll_362

Vicarianus   : a military official in the service of the vicarius.   See: SelPap_1.30

Wab priests   : the lowest rank of Egyptian priests, who took care of the temple complex and performed administrative functions.   See: AET_4.4 , AET_4.10 , AET_5.6

Wabet   : "pure place", in Egypt, the place where mummies were prepared.   See: AET_4.9


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