16 December 2009

Matthews, John (2006) The journey of Theophanes: travel, business, and daily life in the Roman East. New Haven; London: Yale University Press. XVII, 244 p. ISBN-10 0-300-10898-2, ISBN-13 978-0-300-10898-9. Price: $60.

Theophanes was a lawyer and public figure from the Nile valley city of Hermopolis. In the early fourth century A.D. he made a six-month business-related journey to Antioch. The day-to-day details of this journey are preserved on papyrus documents covering everything from distances travelled to daily food purchases, medicinal supplies and fees paid for various services. This book contains translations of these documents and, even more importantly, places them in the wider context of the social history of the Graeco-Roman world. The author has also added translations of some papyrus letters involving Theophanes or written to him. This marvellously produced book makes it clear that Theophanes' memoranda are especially important for information on places outside the borders of Egypt, thus overcoming the limitation often felt of papyrological evidence. The book is amply illustrated with maps, plans, photos of papyri and art works.

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