Select Papyri, 1.187A


Greek text:   SB 18.13167
Date:   Middle of 2nd cent. A.D.
Translated by:   by D. Rathbone

This document is of great importance for our understanding of trade between the Roman Empire of India. The translation is by D. Rathbone, "The Muziris papyrus (SB XVIII.13167): financing Roman trade with India", in BSAA 46 (2000), pp.39–50. A shorter discussion of the  contents of the papyrus, by the same author, is available online ( Oxford Research Encyclopedias ).


. . . your other administrators or managers, and on agreement(?) [I will give (?)] to your (?) camel-driver . . . (?) for the extra charges [of the journey up] to Koptos; and I will convey the goods through the desert under guard and protection [up to the] public tax-receiving warehouses at Koptos, and [I will] place them under the [authority] and seal of yourself, or of your administrators or whichever one of them is present, until their loading at the river; and I will load them [at the] required time onto a safe ship on the river; and I will convey them down to the warehouse for receiving the quarter-tax [at] Alexandria, and [likewise] will place them under the authority and seal of yourself or your men.   

For (?) all the payments [for the ship (?)] from now to collection of the quarter-tax, and of (?) the desert transport and the carrying-charges of the river-workers and the other incidental (?) expenses . . . on occurrence of the date for repayment specified in the contracts of loan for the trip to Muziris, if I do not [then] duly discharge the aforesaid loan in my name, that then [you] and your administrators or managers are to have the option and complete authority, if you so choose, to carry out execution without [notification] or summons to judgement, to possess and own the afore[said] security and pay the quarter-tax, to convey the [three] parts which will be left where you choose and to sell or use them as security [and] to transfer them to another person, if you so choose, and to deal with the items of the security in whatsoever way you choose, and to buy them for yourself at the price current at the time, and to subtract and reckon in what falls due [on account of the aforesaid loan, on terms that the responsibility for what falls due [lies] with you and your administrators or managers and we are free from accusation in every respect, and that the surplus or shortfall from the capital [goes] to me the borrower and giver of security . . .


Gangetic nard: 60 boxes, of which likewise the price is reckoned with the box at 4,500 drachmas of silver, 45 talents. Ivory: first {A}, sound: 78 talents-weight 54 ¾ minas, of which likewise the price is reckoned, first {A1}, 78 talents-weight 4[3] minas which become by the standards of the quarter-tax, the talent being reckoned at 95 pounds, total 7,478 pounds, from which the equivalent is, reckoning 97 ½ pounds to the talent on the ratio which is normally reckoned among merchants, 76 talents-weight 45 minas, with the mina at 100 drachmas, total 76 talents 4,500 drachmas.

Then {A2}, the remaining tusks, taken at the higher weight by the arabarchs for the collection of the quarter-tax in the sum of tusks despite the equivalence when undergoing collection of the quarter-tax, 11 ¾ minas with the mina at the same 100 drachmas, 1,175 drachmas [of silver].

Makes total 76 talents 5,675  drachmas.

Then {B}, fragments: 13 talents-weight 9 ¾ minas,  of which likewise the price is reckoned, first {B1}, 12 talents-weight 4[7] minas which, as explained above, become in turn (?) by the standards of the quarter-tax 1,214 pounds, and, according to how among the merchants it is reckoned, are 12 talents-weight 27 minas, with the mina at 70 drachmas, 8 talents 4,290 drachmas of silver.  

Then {B2}, the remaining fragments, taken at the higher weight for collection of the quarter-tax as explained above, 22 ¾ minas, with the mina at the same 70 drachmas, 1,592 ½ dr, of silver. 

Total for fragments: 8 talents 5,882 ½ drachmas.

Total price of ivory: [85 talents cargoes 5,557 ½ drachmas] of silver.

Makes the price of the 3 parts of the cargoes shipped out in the ship 'Hermapollon' 1,154 talents 2,852 drachmas of silver.

papyrus 188

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