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Le saint, le moine et le paysan

 | 
Olivier Delouis
, 
Sophie Métivier
, 
Paule Pagès

On a bountiful harvest at Antioch of Pisidia (with special regard to the Byzantine modios and to the Mediterranean diet)1

Constantin Zuckerman

Texte intégral

  • 1 I am very grateful to Denis Feissel and to Cécile Morrisson, as well as to the editors of the volum (...)
  • 1 I owe this indication of origin to an oral communication by Thomas Drew-Bear.

1Over fifteen years ago I was invited by Thomas Drew-Bear and Mehmet Taşlıalan to participate in a conference at Yalvaç, dedicated to the city’s ancient predecessor, Antioch of Pisidia. I seize the occasion to thank again the organizers for their kind invitation, from which, regrettably, I could not profit because of a last-minute health impediment. Unable to enjoy the hospitality of the Hotel Antiocheia, which housed the conference guests, I was reduced to examining its flyer. Above the picture of a room, in which I did not stay, next to that of the dining hall, I found a photograph of a Christian inscription (figure 2, at the end of the article) that struck my attention because I believed I knew the few published Christian inscriptions from Yalvaç. Mastery treatment by Fabien Tessier of the photograph publicized in the flyer produced a decent picture, which confirmed that the inscription had not been previously studied. I announced my discovery to Dr Drew-Bear, who notified Dr Taşlıalan, the director at the time of Yalvaç Museum, to which the stone was then transferred from Menekşe quarter in the southern outskirts of the city.1 Thus I obtained another picture of the inscription (figure 1).

2I could have kept contemplating the inscription for many more years in the hope of producing a fuller commentary, but the approaching 70th birthday of Professor Michel Kaplan prompts me to make it public. In some respects, the inscription turns out to be a perfect illustration of Michel Kaplan’s ideas as developed in his classical monograph Les hommes et la terre à Byzance du vie au xie siècle. Propriété et exploitation du sol (Paris 1992), supporting one of his most contested arguments. At the end of my commentary I will dwell on this aspect of the text. Before, however, the reader will be subjected to a long excursus on the grain measure used in the inscription, the modios, familiar yet poorly known. I will also have some observations to make on the Byzantine roots of the Mediterranean diet.

The stone and the text

  • 2 V. Ruggieri, M. Turillo, La scultura bizantina ad Antiochia di Pisidia, Rome 2011 (OCA 288), p. 131 (...)

3The inscription of five lines is engraved on a capital of a column. This capital has recently been published by Vincenzo Ruggieri and Matteo Turillo in their catalogue of the sculpted material from Antioch in Pisidia. According to the catalogue, the capital is 30 cm high, the abacus is 47.3 cm long on the shorter side and 74 cm long on the longer side (reconstructed); the diameter of the column base is 29 cm. The capital is carved from fine white marble and summarily decorated with a cross in the middle (arms 17 and 12 cm). The back part (not seen on the photograph) is partly broken.2

4The editors date the capital by the type of its decoration to the advanced sixth century (“pieno vi secolo”). Since they also describe this decoration as basic and common, narrowing its dating down by a century might not be prudent. The editors further claim that the text was engraved on the capital at the stage of re-employment: they affirm, moreover, that at this later period (“in epoca posteriore”) two inscriptions were placed on the sides of the object (“due iscrizioni sulle facce del manufatto”). I do not know why they speak of two inscriptions, but whether in the original structure, for which the capital was carved, or in a church built later with recuperated material, our text must have been very prominently displayed.

5The text occupies the entire front side of the abacus, a rectangular space of 47.3 × 17 cm. The writing is irregular: spaced out in the first three lines, squeezed in the last two. The letters are about 3 cm high. The fact that the text is engraved around a pre-existing decoration in the form of a large cross contributes to the irregularity of the layout. With the exception of small splits at the edges, the inscription is well preserved.

ζεύγει βοῶ(ν) | δόδεκα ἔσπιρ̣α̣ν
μόδ(ια) ω ´ (υπαρῶν) ν (ομισμάτων) ιϛ´ |ἐγεργισαν μό | δηα ͵γχ̣´
κ (ύριό) ς μου οἶδεν | γεοργὸς τοῦ κόσ̣μ̣[ ου]
[
] τ̣ι οὐ ψεύδομει | ἐχάρισαν ἰδ̣ε[ῖν]

ζεύγη βοῶν δώδεκα ἔσπειραν μόδ(ια) ω ´ (υπαρῶν) ν (ομισμάτων) ιϛ ´, ἐγεωρ̣γησαν μόδια ͵γχ´, κ (ύριό) ς μου οἶδεν γεωργὸς τοῦ κόσμου ὅτι οὐ ψεύδομαι, ἐχάρησαν ἰδεῖν.

6Twelve teams of oxen sowed/800 modia, (worth) 16 “soiled” nomismata; they harves/ted 3 600 modia. /My Lord, the husbandman of the world, knows/that I do not lie. They were delighted to see (this).

Figure 1 - The harvest inscription from Antioch in Pisidia (Yalvaç Museum, no inventory number)

The paleography

  • 3 C. Mango, Notes d’épigraphie et d’archéologie: Constantinople, Nicée, TM 12, 1994, p. 343-357 (with (...)
  • 4 A. Rhoby, Byzantinische Epigramme auf Stein nebst Addenda zu den Bänden 1 und 2, Vienna 2014 (Byzan (...)
  • 5 Cf. C. Mango, Byzantine Epigraphy (4th to 10th Centuries), in Paleografia e codicologia greca: Atti (...)

7In discussing the paleography of the inscription I was privileged to benefit from the expert advice of Denis Feissel. He has pointed out to me as its most salient feature the peculiar shape of M with its central part hanging down as a loose rope rather than forming a sharp angle. The earliest parallel to this form of mu that he could point out to me appears in the fragmentary epigram of abbot Hyakinthos, from Nicaea/Iznik, convincingly dated by its editor, Cyril Mango, to the last years of the seventh century.3 In republishing this epigram in his recent corpus (with the dating “um das Jahr 700 oder kurz danach”), Andreas Rhoby dwells specifically on the form of mu, for which he finds no parallels before the first half of the eighth century.4 In the later period the parallels are plentiful.5

8Not being a paleographer, I will not pursue this discussion. I cannot produce a parallel for the peculiar abbreviation of μόδια in line 2 or use as a dating criterion the scribe’s manner of placing the ligature ɣ above the preceding letter in line 3. This is a common way to save space in cursive writing, notably in the late-seventh-century accounts from Nessana cited below, but not in epigraphy. The forms of letters are fairly irregular. Whoever engraved the inscription was not experienced in the matter.

9The evidence cited would make it hard to propose for the inscription an earlier date than ca. 700. I will argue below for a date that is not substantially later, but it is important to remember that paleography only provides an approximate terminus post quem.

The price of wheat

10Line 2 of the inscription starts with the unparalleled (to my knowledge) yet most unequivocal abbreviation for modia, the double delta marking the plural. The indication of the number of modia sown, 800, is followed by the sequence of letters ΡΝIŚ, the N being surmounted by a tilde and the S (stigma), as it would seem, by an oblique stroke.

  • 6 J. Gascou, Une inscription tarifaire de Césarée-sur-Mer, in Entre texte et histoire. Études d’histo (...)
  • 7 See the survey and the plate in B. Palme, Abrechnung über Schiffe der Kaiserin, in Wiener Papyri al (...)

11The combination of letters ΙS can only indicate the numeral 16. The preceding nu topped by a tilde is the standard abbreviation of nomisma(ta). The combination rho-nu stands, in my interpretation, for (υπαρῶν) ν (ομισμάτων). The term ῥυπαρὰ (“soiled”) νομίσματα has been most recently discussed by Jean Gascou, who identified it in a sixth-century inscription from the hippodrome of Caesarea Maritima, where the word ῥυπαρά is abbreviated as Ρ.6 Gascou translates the term as nomismata “bruts.” In accounting practice, as attested in the sixth-seventh-century (pre-conquest) Egypt, the term designates a gold coin “discounted” to 23 carats, possibly payments in copper rather than in actual gold coins. Reducing the adjective to a ρ (most usually barred), preceding the ν for nomisma, is the standard abbreviation.7

12Thus, in the interpretation proposed, the 800 modioi of grain for sowing were bought (rather than taken from existing reserves, cf. below) for the price of 16 “soiled” nomismata. One nomisma would buy 50 modioi of wheat. This price could appear very low compared to most other wheat prices attested in the sources, which most often refer to periods of famine. Other price figures, however, make the one that emerges from our text look fairly plausible.

  • 8 See Zuckerman, Du village à l’Empire, p. 161-163.
  • 9 Nikephoros, Patriarch of Constantinople, Short History, ed. and trans. C. Mango, Washington DC 1990 (...)

13The standard price of grain in the fifth-sixth-century military accounting is 40 modioi per nomisma. Obviously, when one and the same price is applied in mid-fifth-century Africa and in mid-sixth-century Egypt, it can hardly reflect the market value of wheat at each time and place, and there are indications that this “book price” was considered as low.8 Yet, there is no reason to claim that it was utterly detached from market realities. Under Constantine V, probably in 768, the Breviarium of Nikephoros notes the price of 60 modioi of wheat per nomisma. The chronicler (or rather his source) ascribes this price to the tax pressure that forced the peasants to sell their produce cheaply; he mentions, however, “the senseless” who took this for “a sign of the earth’s fertility and the abundance of commodities.”9 The grain price attested in our text falls exactly in between these two.

14The considerations presented have implications for the dating of the inscription. The accounting term rhyparon nomisma is attested in the sixth and the seventh century. Then the loss of Egypt in the 640’s deprives us of any imperial documents containing accounting terms, but when they reappear in the tenth-century acts of Athos, the notion of “soiled” gold coins is no longer in use. Taking into account the paleographical data as well, I would argue, therefore, for an eighth-, possibly ninth-century date for the inscription, preferably closer to the actual attestation of rhypara nomismata. This might be also the place to cite again the editors of the capital who claim that it was only engraved with a text at the stage of re-use (even though they produce no arguments in support of this appraisal).

The amount of grain sown. The modion/modios

15The text of the inscription starts with the somewhat loose statement that twelve pairs of oxen sowed 800 modia of unspecified cereal. The agricultural worker who plows the soil and sows the grain is implicitly included in the team. The lack of specification as to the cereal sown suggests, to my mind, that this was wheat. The term employed to describe a team of oxen is the more classical ζεῦγος, rather than the diminutive ζευγάριον, typical of the middle-to late-Byzantine usage.

16The modion/modios (both forms are attested since Late Antiquity) is not specified either. Yet, this ancient Roman unit for dry measures (modius) evolved over time. It also became, in the medieval period, a land measure, the area sown with a modios of wheat, but since the same term is used in the inscription also to quantify the harvest, it clearly designates here a measure of grain.

  • 10 A Social History of Byzantium, ed. J. Haldon, Chichester 2009, p. 283 (Glossary).
  • 11 “Modios (thalassios) (40 liters) 12.8 kg = 17.084 liters (Schilbach, Metrologie, p. 95),” see The E (...)

17The actual capacity of this measure needs to be defined, since scholars’perception of the Byzantine modios seems in great disarray. This state of confusion is mostly due to the lack of diachronic perspective in Erich Schilbach’s standard manual of Byzantine metrology (to say nothing of its nearly impenetrable system of references). In recent works, at least two main sizes of modios are said to coexist in Byzantine practice: “There were several different modioi, including the annonikos modios, calculated at 26.6 Roman pounds (@ 320g: pound, i. e. 18.75 lbs avoirdupoids/8.7 kg); and the ‘imperial,’ or basilikos modios, of 40 Roman pounds (28.2 lbs/12.8 kg).”10 The authoritative Economic History of Byzantium applies to all grain quantities indicated in modioi the value of the modios thalassios of 40 litrai or 12.8 kg.11 We note that the modios of grain here named “maritime” (thalassios) has exactly the same capacity and weight as that described as “imperial.”

  • 12 Decker, Tilling the Hateful Earth, p. 113, with n. 157, his main bibliographical item being the ent (...)

18Scholars tend to pick up one of the two weight values, or one of the two names of the 40-litrai modios, the “imperial” modios being increasingly popular. This is notably the case with Michael Decker’s recent monograph on early Byzantine agriculture. Professing that “the volume and weight of the modius is somewhat problematic,” Decker reduces this topic, essential for his study, to a footnote. He choses to apply everywhere the basilikos modios,12 attested, as we shall soon discover, for the first and only time nearly a millennium after the period he studies. Our survey will also show that this non-motivated choice increases, in real terms, by a half all yields and consumption figures attested in modioi. This gift, as well as another, not less generous one, consented by the author to Late Antique peasants, we will be unfortunately bound to withdraw.

Modios basilikos

  • 13 The acts of Athos cited in the text were edited as following: Actes de Chilandar. 1, Des origines à (...)

19The modios basilikos is, essentially, a measure of surface. It is attested as such in a score of acts of Athos, mostly unknown to Schilbach when he composed his handbook. The earliest attestation appears in an act of sale composed in 1273, under Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos, and published for the first time in 1994. The object of sale, a sizable plot of farmland, is described as of 1 000 modioi τῆς βασιλ(ικῆς) μέτρας, “by the imperial measurement” (Iviron 3, p. 111, no. 61, l. 15).13 In a testament of 1284, preserved in the archives of Great Laura (Lavra 2, p. 31, no. 75, l. 34), the same measure appears with its usual designation: a field is described as holding 22 modioi basilikoi. This measure is used in four Vatopedi documents from the first quarter of the fourteenth century (Vatopedi 1, p. 211, no. 32, l. 2 and 8 [1301]; p. 259, no. 44, l. 8 and 13 [1310]; p. 295, no. 50, l. 9 and 15 [1318]; p. 321, no. 59, l. 13 [1323]), in contemporary acts of Chilandar (Chilandar 1, p. 165, no. 16, l. 1 [1296]; p. 216, no. 30, l. 30 [1314]; p. 221-222, no. 31, l. 3-4, 19, 22-23 [1314]; p. 226, no. 32, l. 3 and 18 [1314]), in an act of Iviron from 1324 (Iviron 3, p. 288, no. 81, l. 4 and 16), in an act of Xenophon from 1364 (Xenophon, p. 288, no. 81, l. 4 and 16), etc.

20It is deserving of notice that in a testament from 1314 (Chilandar 1, no. 30), only one plot (a vineyard) out of several mentioned is presented in modioi basilikoi. All the others are measured in simple modioi and there is no reason to believe that the same measure is meant in all cases, the specification basilikoi being simply omitted. An act of sale from 1341 (Lavra 3, p. 208-209, App. XII, l. 8-9 and 22-23) brings interesting additional evidence in describing a substantial landed property, recently surveyed (μετρηθὲν πρὸ μικροῦ), as measured in “large imperial modioi” (μοδίων βασιλικῶν μεγάλων). These modioi are so defined not in comparison to some “small imperial modioi,” which did not exist, but compared to regular modioi, which, as we will see, were indeed smaller than the imperial ones. It would appear that the imperial modios gradually replaces the regular modios in the late thirteenth-early fourteenth century, the new land surveys being carried out in the “imperial” units. During this period both land measures seem to coexist.

  • 14 Both treatises are re-edited, translated and commented in Géométries du fisc, see § 7 and 19, p. 42 (...)

21Two metrological treatises reveal the origin of the new modios. According to a treatise preserved in a late-thirteenth-century manuscript, the Vindobonensis juridicus gr. 10, an unnamed emperor ( βασιλεύς) gratified the taxpayers with a slight increase in the length of the standard ten-orgyiai rope used for measuring farmland. The treatise preserved in Vaticanus Palatinus gr. 367, a manuscript from the first half of the fourteenth century, describes this reform as an act of grace of “Emperor Sir Michael to the villagers,” since taxable units measured by the new rope included more land (with no increase in taxes).14

  • 15 E. Schilbach, Byzantinische Metrologie, Munich 1970 (Handbuch der Altertumswissenschaft 12.4), p. 2 (...)
  • 16 Géométries du fisc, p. 34.

22There is much confusion regarding the identity of Emperor Michael. The evidence of the acts of Athos, as listed above, would strongly suggest that the author of the reform was Michael VIII Palaiologos. The first mention of the “imperial” measurements dates from the end of his reign. The author of the treatise preserved in Vienna was probably writing under Michael VIII, and so did not bother to name the reigning emperor. The treatise in the Vatican manuscript, probably written under Michael VIII’s son Andronikos II (1282-1328) or under the latter’s grandson and successor Andronikos III (1328-1341), could speak of Emperor Michael with no fear of ambiguity. This candidacy was, however, rejected both by Erich Schilbach and by the authors of Géométries du fisc byzantin (who had no knowledge, I repeat, of most of the acts cited). Schilbach tentatively suggested the name of Emperor Michael IV (1034-1041), but then he argued that the reform must have had taken place before the latter reign and, if so, cannot be attributed to any emperor named Michael.15 For the authors of the Géométries du fisc, who tentatively retain the attribution of the reform to Michael IV, the argument for its early date boils down to one main issue: the dating of the manuscript Zaborda 121, which contains a text that evokes the extended orgyia used for measuring the extended modios.16 This point can now be clarified.

  • 17 J. Karayannopulos, Fragmente aus dem Vademecum eines byzantinischen Finanzbeamten, in Polychronion. (...)
  • 18 E. Schilbach, Byzantinische metrologische Quellen, Thessalonike 1982 (Βυζαντινὰ Κείμενα καὶ Μελέται(...)
  • 19 Id., Metrologisches aus dem 11. Jahrhudert, BZ 92, 1999, p. 74-79.
  • 20 Géométries du fisc, p. 32, n. 110 (citing the opinion of Brigitte Mondrain).
  • 21 Dans le Canon 8 de Chenouté quelques passages peuvent in the Economy,” in The Economic History of B (...)
  • 22 L. Burgmann, D. Simon, Ein unbekanntes Rechtsbuch, in Fontes Minores I, Frankfurt 1976 (Forschungen (...)
  • 23 L. Politis, Κατάλογος χειρογράφων Ἱερᾶς Μονῆς Ζάβορδας, Thessalonike 2012, p. 95-105, see esp. p. 1 (...)

23In 1966, Johannes Karayannopulos was one of the first to publish a text from the recently discovered Zaborda 121; he was aware of the thirteenth-century dating of this codex by Linos Politis who showed him the text, yet claimed “dass diese Datierung nicht für den hier veröffentlichten Teil des Kodex gelten kann” and dated “his” part of the manuscript to the eleventh century.17 In 1980, Erich Schilbach extended this dating to the entire metrological section of the codex;18 in 1999, he put the eleventh-century date emphatically in the title of an article, in which he published from Zaborda 121 a short metrological text attributing the weight of 40 litrai to a “regular” (ρῆγλος, with no raising) modios.19 The authors of Géométries du fisc byzantin maintained this notion of a distinct date for the metrological part of the manuscript, placing it in the twelfth century.20 By contrast, Nicolas Oikonomides, in referring to Karayannopulos’ edition, described the manuscript as “a miscellaneous codex of the 13th century.”21 Years before, Ludwig Burgmann and Dieter Simon dated it “aus dem späten 13. oder dem frühen 14. Jahrhundert.”22 A comprehensive description of Zaborda 121 by Linos Politis in his catalog of Zaborda manuscripts (published posthumously by Maria L. Politi) includes a detailed rebuttal of the attempts by Karayannopulos and Schilbach to establish a distinct dating for “their” respective parts of this homogeneous manuscript. The date definitively retained by Politis is late thirteenth-early fourteenth century.23

  • 24 On the different attested ways of extending the orgyia, difficult to put into a system, see Géométr (...)
  • 25 Schilbach, Byzantinische metrologische Quellen (cited in n. 18), IV, 7, p. 139.

24It is not my aim here to go into technical details of calculating the new modios. The evidence lacks coherence and the solutions proposed are not entirely satisfactory.24 However, neither the “imperial” modios nor the specific orgyia used in its measurement is attested before the reign of Michael VIII. If this “Emperor Michael” is recognized as the author of the reform, speaking of the “imperial” modios as a measure of surface before the late thirteenth century would be out of place. The same is even more true of the “imperial” modios as a measure of grain. Schilbach lists only one instance of usage of βασιλικὸς μόδης (sic!) as a capacity measure – equated to 40 litrai, with the subsequent indication that 1 litra sows 5 orgyiai and thus 1 modios of grain sows 200 orgyiai (= one modios) of land.25 This single usage in a fourteenth-century manuscript can hardly justify applying the “imperial” modios as the main grain capacity measure in early and middle Byzantium.

Modios thalassios

  • 26 See Βυζαντινὰ ἔγγραφα τῆς Μονῆς Πάτμου. Β΄, Δημοσίων Λειτουργῶν, ed. M. Nystazopoulou-Pelekidou, At (...)
  • 27 Re-edited by Schilbach, Byzantinische metrologische Quellen (cited in n. 18), III, 1, p. 126-132; c (...)

25The modios thalassios, as its name would suggest, was originally a measure of ships’tonnage. This sense is attested in a Laura act from 1196 dealing with the tax exemption for the monastery’s boat (Lavra 1, p. 350, no. 67, l. 20-21), as well as in three contemporary acts from the monastery of Patmos, often studied for their data on the Byzantine methods of tonnage measurement.26 A short treatise on measuring ships’tonnage uses this term as well, while indicating that thalassios modios contained 40 litrai of grain. Preserved in a manuscript from the first half of the fourteenth century, this treatise might have been composed earlier, possibly as early as the twelfth century, with the approximate terminus post quem provided by the mention of the ἀντίναυλον tax, first attested in 1102.27

  • 28 P. Gautier, Le typikon de la Théotokos Kécharitôménè, REB 43, 1985, p. 5-165, see p. 12-13 (date), (...)
  • 29 P. Gautier, Le typikon du Christ Sauveur Pantocrator, REB 32, 1974, p. 1-145, see p. 12-14 (the tab (...)
  • 30 See Schilbach, Byzantinische Metrologie (cited in n. 15), p. 99-100.
  • 31 P. Gautier, La diataxis de Michel Attaliate, REB 39, 1981, p. 5-143. I refer to the lines of this e (...)

26The first dated attestation of modios thalassios as a measure of grain appears in the typikon composed ca. 1110 for the monastery of Theotokos Kecharitomene, founded by Empress Irene, Alexios Komnenos’ wife. The typikon evokes many distributions of wheat and baked bread measured in modioi (of grain used for baking in the latter case), but only on one occasion (of the largest distribution) are the modioi described as thalassioi.28 In 1136, the typikon of another imperial monastery, the Christ Pantokrator founded by Irene’s son John II Komnenos, features distributions in modia thalassia, but also in “monastic” or “monastery” (μοναστηριακά) and “annonic” (ἀννονικά) modia. The recapitulation table drawn up by the editor makes it clear that the last named modion was applied by default, unless stated otherwise. Most importantly, the document indicates the ratio of the three measures, the “monastic” making up 4/5 and the “annonic” 2/3 of the “maritime” modion.29 While the “monastic” measure seems to be peculiar to this typikon alone, the “annonic” one is mentioned elsewhere.30 It is first attested, to my knowledge, in the Disposition (diataxis) established by Michael Attaleiates for his two pious foundations in March 1077.31 For most distributions described in modioi of wheat the founder specifies that “annonic” modioi are meant (l. 502-503, 536-541, 1037-1038); when the distribution is designated as annona (l. 1025), this quality of modios is implied. In one case, however, the writer clearly contrasts, within the same paragraph, the “large modios” (μοδίου μεγάλου ἐνός, l. 496) with the “annonic” one (l. 503). I believe that we find here the same distinction between the modios thalassios (not yet named as such) and the “annonic” modios as in the typikon of Christ Pantokrator half a century later.

  • 32 See Schilbach, Byzantinische Metrologie (cited in n. 15), p. 109, 111 (“der θαλάσσιος μόδιος entspr (...)
  • 33 J. Haldon, The Organisation and Support of an Expeditionary Force: Manpower and Logistics in the Mi (...)

27One more element, historiographical this time, is needed to complete this survey. Erich Schilbach was convinced that the modios thalassios of the late Byzantine metrological treatises was equivalent to the modius castrensis of Late Antiquity. This basic error, due to the imperfect knowledge of the Late Antique measures at the time, explains the static view of Byzantine metrology that Schilbach’s manual projects. In his perspective, the main measures did not change, and only some marginal phenomena, such as the emergence of the “monastic” and the “annonic” modioi, needed to be noted and explained.32 By contrast, John Haldon, abreast of the progress in the study of Late Antique metrology (notably due to Richard Duncan-Jones and Jean Gascou), was the first to point out that it was actually the “annonic” modios, which, at 26 2/3 litrai (two thirds of the 40-litrai modios thalassios), was the exact equivalent of the modius castrensis. Furthermore, Haldon examined the tenth-century data on the horse-loads expressed in modioi and reached the conclusion that this could only be the “annonic” modios. According to Haldon, applying “the standard ‘ imperial’ basilikos modios of 40 Roman pounds” would have resulted in loads too heavy for the horses to bear.33

  • 34 See Zuckerman, Du village à l’Empire, p. 168-169, with references.
  • 35 In a later study, John Haldon explains the change of name of modius castrensis into annonikos by “t (...)

28With this additional data in mind, we may attempt a more dynamic vision of the history of Byzantine grain measures than that currently prevailing. At the turn of the third and the fourth century, in the course of the Tetrarchic reforms, the traditional Roman modius italicus of 16 xestai or ca. 6.5 kg, is gradually replaced by the modius “of the camps” (castrensis) of 22 xestai or ca. 8.9 kg, i. e. larger by a third. Emperor Diocletian’s Edict on Prices (301), in which the two modii coexist, reflects a fairly advanced stage in this process, and after the fourth century no trace is left of the old modius. All fifth-sixth-century accounts refer, most often implicitly, to the modius castrensis.34 This is the only modios in place at the period when, in the conventional scheme, Late Antiquity becomes Byzantium. John Haldon’s calculations made it clear that the very same unit was designated as modios in the tenth-century sources. Then, in the late eleventh and the twelfth century, the writers start specifying, like 800 years before, what modios they have in mind. The old modios takes the name of annonikos, while the new larger modios, of 40 litrai or 12.8 kg, is first designated as thalassios and then becomes the unit of reference with no further specification.35 It is most striking that both transformations of modios occur in periods of radical debasement of coinage and destabilization of prices, but I will not dwell on this point.

  • 36 Géométries du fisc, p. 34.

29As I have pointed out, the measures of surface also evolve, though not simultaneously. By the fourteenth century, Byzantine metrologists attain the perfect harmony and coherence between the 40-litrai modios measuring surface and the 40-litrai modios measuring weight: a litra of land is sown with a litra of grain. While this as yet unappreciated intellectual achievement is not the subject of this paper, I shall terminate by stating my objection to the widespread view that the late Byzantine metrological treatises “font allusion à des pratiques séculaires, [et] ne mentionnent presque pas d’institutions caractéristiques d’une époque déterminée.”36 Behind the familiar façade of immobility, the Byzantine system of measures evolves as does any other aspect of Byzantine civilization, and it is up to us to grasp the pace and modalities of this change.

30The main – and unfortunate – implication of this long digression for the students of Byzantine history is that they should no longer rely on Erich Schilbach’s manual. But this discussion also makes it clear that the modios in our inscription, which cannot be dated as late as the eleventh century, is necessarily the old modius castrensis of ca. 8.9 kg. The total weight of the grain sown can thus be calculated at ca. 7120 kg, or 593 1/3 kg per team of oxen.

The yield

31The indication of the amount of grain sown by the twelve teams of oxen is followed by the amount harvested (ἐγεώργησαν). The figure is mutilated. The one certain element is a Γ surmounted by a tilde – 3 000. The only part of the next numeral that can clearly be seen is an oblique stroke in the lower part of the line; it seems to be traversed by a small fragment of an oblique stroke coming in the opposite direction from above. The reading that I propose with some element of uncertainty but with no visible alternative is X – 600. This reading would also make sense because it was hardly the writer’s intention to measure and publicize the harvest down to the last modios. If we admit the harvest figure of 3 600 modioi, our text is making a more general statement, announcing the yield of 1:4.5. This yield was considered extraordinary, deserving commemoration in the church with God himself called as witness that this figure was true.

32I would put the high yield in connection with the fact that the grain for sowing was bought rather than taken from the previous year’s stock. What is more, it was bought in a centralized fashion. This would suggest that we are dealing here with a new estate bringing virgin soil under cultivation. The first harvest on such land is always plentiful. The author of the inscription is the owner of the estate who invested in oxen and grain – possibly prompted by the low grain price – and who hired (or acquired) the laborers. If I could have narrowed down the inscription’s date, I would have gladly used it as evidence for newly popular Late Antique non-decline or some Byzantine revival.

33If our farmer perceived the yield of 1:4.5 as so incredibly high, what yield would he have considered as normal? A yield of 1:3, no doubt, hardly more.

34This brings us to the subject of Late Antique and Byzantine yields of wheat that has provoked a heated debate.

  • 37 Decker, Tilling the Hateful Earth, p. 82-83; the quotes from Decker below are from these pages.

35The most recent discussion of the topic belongs to Michael Decker, who starts by acknowledging that, “in any case, the harvest would never have been uniform across the empire for myriad reasons, ranging from soil quality to the type of grain, seed selection, the timing of the harvest, and the impact of disease and pests, to name but a handful.” This is very true. Then, however, the author cites a Nessana papyrus, P. Ness. III 82, famous for its serial data on yields, and produces “the harvested grain-to-grain sown estimate” for wheat of 1:7, which he applies “not only for Nessana, but for Oriens in general.”37 This conclusion is dubious.

  • 38 C. J. Kraemer, Excavations at Nessana. 3, Non-literary Papyri, Princeton 1958, no. 82, p. 237-240. (...)
  • 39 Kraemer, Non-literary Papyri (cited in n. 38), no. 83, p. 241-243, see the editor’s note to lines 5 (...)

36The Nessana papyrus III 82, an internal accounting document of an estate composed as the harvest was going on (for two fields’harvest figures, not yet available, the space was left blank), provides the closest parallel to our inscription. The amount sown is introduced by the verb ἐσπίραμεν, as in our text, and the yield by ἐποίεισαν (sc. the modia sown), ἐποίεισεν or ἐξέβαλεν. For three fields of wheat the following data is noted: 40 modia sown yielded 270 modia; 40 modia sown yielded 288 modia; 180 modia sown yielded 1225 modia.38 These figures indicate the average yield of 1:6.86, rounded up to 1:7 by Decker, who believes that “farmers may be deceptive about the amount of grain sown and reaped in order to evade taxation or rent.” In applying the latter ratio to “Oriens in general,” Decker makes no use of the data contained in a roughly contemporary papyrus of the same origin, P. Ness. III 83, indicating 78 modia of wheat produced by 14 modia sown, a yield of slightly over 5.5 fold, and of 115 modia harvested after sowing 31 modia, a much more modest yield of 3.71 fold.39

  • 40 Decker, Tilling the Hateful Earth, refers to É. Patlagean, Pauvreté économique et pauvreté sociale (...)
  • 41 Kaplan, Les hommes et la terre, p. 81.

37In extrapolating P. Ness. III 82’s figures on Eastern Mediterranean, Decker dismisses the argument he ascribes to Évelyne Patlagean that “the documents from Nessana represent especially high returns based on irrigated farming, and therefore cannot be used to generalize.” Yet, this warning is well founded, even though Patlagean, in the pages quoted, says nothing of the kind.40 Decker claims, in support of his position, that “the Negev is so ill-favoured agriculturally that floodwater farm installations were required to produce any kind of cereal crop. At best, the late antique water management systems there would have done nothing more than place the Negev floodwater-farmed landscape on par with the costal plain.” It is enough to replace “Negev” by “Egypt” though to see where the argument is misguided. Also Egypt’s legendary fertility was largely dependent on “floodwater farm installations.” In the Negev, as in Egypt (though to a lesser extent), the floodwater not only irrigated but also fertilized the inundated farmland. The degree of irrigation depended on the yearly rainfall and on each plot’s position within or next to the vast flood-zone, which explains the discrepancies in yield. As pointed out by Michel Kaplan, such conditions were anything but common.41

  • 42 See, e.g., Géométries du fisc, § 4 and 7, p. 40 and 42.

38In a later Byzantine period inundated farmland would be described as ποταμιαία or λιβαδιαία γῆ (water meadows), and classified among the most fertile farmlands of the first quality.42 Such lands were not used exclusively for grain farming, and, in any case, were less available than the common σπορίμη γῆ of the second quality. The farm at Antioch in Pisidia would have been, no doubt, classified in the latter category, along with the farm from the district of Arneai in the neighboring province of Lycia.

  • 43 See The Life of Saint Nicholas of Sion, ed. trans. I. Ševčenko and N. Patterson Ševčenko, Brookline (...)

39Probably in the second quarter of the sixth century, a peasant couple from the district of Arneai came to the local holy man, abbot Nicholas of Sion, and described the calamity that befell them. “And they fell down before the servant of God, saying: ‘As of today, we have lived on our piece of land (χωρίον) for twenty years. And this land requires twenty-five large (μεγάλοι) modii of seed grain and never yet have we gotten more than twenty-five modii in return’.”43 It should first be explained – since no commentator has ever touched this point – that the “large” modioi are the modii castrenses, so described in contrast to the old smaller modioi. As for the duration of the peasants’ predicament, commentators agree that it could hardly have lasted for twenty years; yet it is important, as we shall see, that this is the way it is presented by the well-informed contemporary hagiographer. What mostly matters for our purpose, however, is the outcome of the saint’s two steady hours of payer: “And in the following year they sowed the same piece of land, and they put in the same number of modii. And when the sowing was over, and the crops harvested from the land, they gathered one hundred and twenty-five large modii.” The peasants “gave thanks to God” – like in our inscription – considering the yield of 1:5 as a blessing (εὐλογία) and a wonder (σημεῖα).

40The testimony of the inscription and that of the Life of Saint Nicholas of Sion, coming from adjacent provinces, are remarkably coherent. A yield of 1:4.5 deserved commemoration on stone, the yield of 1:5 was nothing short of a wonder to be mentioned at length in a saint’s Life. Both cases show that normal expectations of a harvest were much much lower.

  • 44 Kaplan, Les hommes et la terre, p. 81-82, with reference to N. Svoronos, Remarques sur les structur (...)
  • 45 K. Smyrlis, Byzantium, in Agrarian Change and Crisis in Europe, 1200-1500, ed. H. Kitsikopoulos, Ne (...)

41The agricultural anecdote from the Life of Saint Nicholas of Sion is central to Michel Kaplan’s argument in support of the appraisal, going back to Nicolas Svoronos, of the average wheat yield at 3-3.5 grains for one sown.44 Yet, as recently pointed out by Kostis Smyrlis in his concise and pertinent survey of the topic, “in the last years, alongside with the greater optimism regarding the general trend of the economy, scholars have accepted considerably higher yields than Svoronos had.”45 The author himself is visibly skeptical with regard to the new trend. More clarity can be gained thanks to the new evidence from Pisidian Antioch.

  • 46 J. Lefort, The Rural Economy, Seventh-Twelfth Centuries, in The Economic History of Byzantium (cite (...)
  • 47 Lefort, ibid., cited by Oikonomides, The Role (cited in n. 21), p. 1002, who assumes, for the middl (...)

42A sharper differentiation between the two main categories of land lies at the root of the solution. Jacques Lefort took a step in the right direction in proposing distinct average yields for each category: 1:5.6 for the first-quality and 1:4 for the second-quality land. On the same page, however, he cited the well-known “normative” price and tax rates, twice as high for the first-as for the second-quality land.46 This steep differential in taxation and price can only be justified by a difference in productivity of about the same order. I would readily admit for the first-quality soil the yield as high as 5.5-6 grains for one sown: as argued by Lefort, with lesser fertility the owner of this land would not be able to pay his taxes. But there is no reason to dissimulate this productivity figure in a meaningless average, all the less so since the yield of 1:4 for lesser quality land is not attested in sources or supported by any argument other than our concern for the peasants’ diet (see below). What is more, I doubt the reality of Lefort’s “average” holding consisting “of half first-quality and half second-quality land.”47

  • 48 Lefort, The Rural Economy (cited in n. 46), cites the well-known passage on the different ways of m (...)

43The Byzantines gave fiscal recognition to the difference in quality of arable land between the Empire’s main regions: thus, its eastern part, essentially the Anatolian plateau, was recognized as less fertile on the whole than its western part or the southern coast of Asia Minor.48 Yet, cereal farming took place in all regions. We have no way of estimating how much wheat was sown in each region and how, within each region, the sowing was repartitioned between soils of first and second quality. But now we have the certainty, thanks to the concordant evidence of our inscription and the Life of Saint Nicholas of Sion, that in vast portions of the imperial territory peasants satisfied themselves with yields that averaged 3-3.5 grains for one sown. Incidentally, we have also learned that, before the twelfth century, the modioi, in which their harvest was measured in the sources, were not the thalassioi (or “imperial”) modioi of ca. 12.8 kg, but the modii castrenses of ca. 8.9 kg.

The Mediterranean diet

44In reducing the peasants’ grain production so drastically as compared to the recent optimistic trend epitomized in Michael Decker’s study, I feel the obligation to raise the question of how, nevertheless, they could feed themselves and survive.

  • 49 Decker, Tilling the Hateful Earth, p. 82, with reference to L. Foxhall, H. A. Forbes, ΣΙΤΟΜΕΤΡΙΑ: T (...)

45The current doctrine, going back to the often-cited study by Lin Foxhall and Hamish Alexander Forbes, adopted by Decker, sets “the total daily calorie requirement of an ancient family of six” at about 15,495. “As much as 70 per cent of the ancient diet consisted of cereal grains, which would therefore amount to 10,847 calories per day.”49 Decker points out that “a kilogram of coarse, ground wheat flour contains about 3,390 calories” and then goes on to calculate the average family’s annual wheat needs at “around 1,168 kilograms of flour, or about 1,226 kilograms of whole wheat,” “assuming 5 per cent losses in milling.”

  • 50 See A. T. Jiménez González, Milling Process of Durum Wheat, in Durum Wheat Quality in the Mediterra (...)
  • 51 See Zuckerman, Du village à l’Empire, p. 166-167; cf. the remarks by J. Gascou, La table budgétaire (...)
  • 52 See M. Junkelmann, Panis militaris. Die Ernährung des römischen Soldaten oder der Grundstoff der Ma (...)

46The latter assumption, made with no discussion, deserves a commentary. The yield in the milling process today is only about 65-72 percent,50 and this figure is close to the ancient estimations for the better-quality flour. Several texts provide the correlation between the weight of grain and that of bread baked from this grain, taking into account the weight lost by the grain in milling and gained by the dough through the addition of water: the coefficient of transformation of wheat into (better quality) bread stands at ca. 0.9.51 The yield in producing homemade flour for dark bread is estimated at 85-90 percent. Finally, quoting Pliny’s famous testimony on panis militaris weighing one third more than the grain of which it was made, Marcus Junkelmann suggests that up to 100 percent of the grain could be used in baking this whole-wheat bread.52 I will apply this ratio that makes it easier to transform the grain weight into the weight of bread and generously assume that to enjoy their plentiful – and healthy – dietary lifestyle, the hypothetical family of six would only need about 1,168 kg of wheat.

47Despite this generous admission, however, I must take issue with the estimate of the “70 per cent of the ancient diet” consisting of cereal grains, and even more so, with the notion of “the ancient diet” as such. Here again the inscription from Pisidian Antioch provides new crucial data.

  • 53 Lefort, The Rural Economy (cited in n. 46), p. 247.

48We may calculate that each pair of oxen prepared the soil for sowing 800:12 = 66 2/3 modioi of grain. This figure shows a remarkable correlation with Jacques Lefort’s estimate of the size of peasants’holdings as being “in proportion to their workforce; in grain-growing regions, it may have oscillated around 4-5 ha in the case of boidatoi and 8-10 ha in the case of zeugaratoi.” Since Lefort assimilates the modios of land to 0.125 ha, his estimate allots 64-80 modioi to a peasant with a team of oxen, and between 32 and 40 modioi to a peasant with just one ox; in one specific case, he calculates average holdings of 33 modioi for boidatoi, presumably 66 modioi for zeugaratoi.53 If we take as a general guide the common definition of a modios of land as the area sown with one modios of wheat (this is not the place to examine this equation in detail), the coincidence of figures is most striking. It would be reasonable to admit that during the sowing campaign at Pisidian Antioch, each team of oxen tilled the area corresponding to a “two-oxen” (zeugaratos) peasant holding.

  • 54 Ibid., p. 248.

49Lefort further suggests that a typical Byzantine peasant holding had one ox rather than a yoke.54 On this assumption, we may attempt the following simulation. The average farmer owning one ox could sow 33 1/3 modioi of wheat. After the harvest, at the average yield of 1:3, he would have at his disposal 66 2/3 modioi of wheat when the seed stock was deducted. In a very good year, the yield of 1:3.5 would increase his reserves of disposable grain to little over 83 modioi. Assuming that he cultivated 33 modioi of second-category arable land, he would owe to the State just over 1.5 nomisma in taxes (at the well-attested “nominal” rate of 1 nomisma per 20 modioi for this category of land). Assuming that he paid his dues in grain or by selling his grain at the most favorable price attested of 12 modioi per nomisma, our peasant would have to dispose of for taxes little over 18 modioi. This would leave him with 48 to 65 modioi or ca. 430 to 580 kg of wheat, applying, as I must emphasize again, the most optimistic assumptions all along the way.

50By grinding all his grain into flour and leaving nothing out, the peasant could dispose, in an average year, of 430 kg and in a good year of 580 kg of coarse flour. In other words, our peasant family cultivating second-quality land could only procure from its wheat harvest between (3390 × 430:365) ca. 4000 and (3390 × 580:365) ca. 5400 calories per day. This figure is a very far cry from the generous allocation of 10,847 calories per day calculated by Foxhall and Forbes (above). The gap is so huge that it cannot be whitewashed or dissimulated by simply adjusting some variables in the simulation. We need to understand first the rationale of the calculation cited and then take a fresh look at the peasants’ diet.

  • 55 On rations, see Zuckerman, Du village à l’Empire, p. 160-170; cf. Id., Le cirque, l’argent et le pe (...)

51The first of these tasks is the easy one. All modern calorie counts of “the ancient diet” are almost exclusively based on the data related to the rations distributed to soldiers and to “citizens” of the capital cities. This data has the advantage of being available, coherent, and, for Late Antiquity, even plentiful.55 What has not been properly recognized, however, is that this data is also exceptional in more than one respect. The recipients of state rations were by far the best-fed members of ancient society, but their combined share in the Empire’s population was surely inferior to 5 percent at its highest (second-fourth centuries); in Byzantine times, it was statistically negligible. Soldiers, “citizens,” and city-dwellers in general (a much larger category since most city-dwellers did not benefit from the citizens’ rations) were also the only segment of the antique and medieval population who did not participate in the production of food. Their food security was ensured by the state, thanks to ample supply of cereal grains.

52One way of describing the relations between city and countryside in Antiquity and the Middles Ages – occasionally in more recent times as well – would be as a struggle for grain. “Alienating” grain, the one foodstuff that could be stored over time, was the only way to guarantee food security to the cities and the army. Peasants enjoyed no food security and, paradoxically, we discover less bread in their diet than in citizens’ or army rations.

  • 56 For the various appraisals of the minimal calorie intake necessary for survival, see B. Milanovic, (...)

53430 kg and 580 kg of flour would produce, respectively, ca. 575 kg and ca. 775 kg of rough whole-wheat bread a year or ca. 1.6-2.1 kg per day. Thus we may visualize the bread supply of the average “one-ox” family in the form of sixteen to twenty-one 100-gram pitas, of ca. 250 calories each, that the peasant’s wife baked daily in the village tandoor. Four to six pitas would probably go to the hard-working peasant, three to five would go to his wife, while the remaining nine to ten would be split between the four dependents. With his four to six pitas our average peasant could procure from bread about 1000-1500 calories a day, about 33 to 50 percent of the daily intake of ca. 3 000 calories required for a working man; likewise for his wife, if we estimate her daily intake at ca. 2 400 calories.56 One may easily calculate that with this generous allowance, the nutritional needs of the other members of the family would be satisfied by bread at a much lower rate. And, needless to say, a family of four would fare better than a family of six.

  • 57 J. Lefort, Rural Economy and Social Relations in the Countryside, DOP 47, 1993, p. 101-113, on p. 1 (...)
  • 58 Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2012.10.08 (online). For more praise, see the review by J. Haldon in Jou (...)

54The problem of underproduction by Byzantine peasants was posed by Jacques Lefort, who wrote: “Very low yields would imply, for the peasants to be able to survive, that they cultivated considerable areas, which would in turn indicate, given the technical means at their disposal, superhuman work.”57 Lefort’s solution consisted in admitting slightly higher average yields, which, if calculated into calories, would not have saved the situation. As for the area that could be tilled by a pair of oxen, our inscription brings substantial new evidence in support of Lefort’s moderate estimation. Michael Decker more than doubled the average yield and enhanced by a half the modioi, in which the harvests were measured. This resolute action surely contributed to drawing a “general picture of a healthy economy faring well above subsistence,” as David K. Pettegrew puts it in his review of Decker’s monograph.58 Whether this image is as “convincing” as the reviewer claims it to be is a different question.

55I will not try to explore the possible compensation mechanisms that could allow peasants specializing in oil or wine production, for instance, to complete their grain rations by purchase. Such mechanisms could only profit the dwellers of coastal areas in periods of uninhibited Mediterranean trade; even in the best of times they would be of little succor for the inhabitants of Pisidia or inner Lycia. The actual solution lies elsewhere.

  • 59 L. G. Allbaugh, Crete: A Case Study of an Underdeveloped Area, Princeton 1953, p. 106-114.

56In 1953 Leland G. Allbaugh published his study of the post-war Cretan economy, which became justly famous (while also attracting from the start some justified criticism that is of no concern for us here). This book provided the first quantified description of the dietary pattern, which is now highly popular under the name of Cretan or Mediterranean diet. Enough is to point out its one salient feature. In the sample examined by Allbaugh, the peasants derived only 39 percent of calories from cereals and cereal products,59 a figure as close to the one produced by my simulation as it is removed from Decker’s estimation of 70 percent. This observation suggests that the Mediterranean diet was not invented in post-war Crete.

  • 60 Kaplan, Les hommes et la terre, p. 25-46; see also a comprehensive survey in Decker, Tilling the Ha (...)

57The fallacious notion of “the ancient diet” based on massive consumption of bread should be replaced with a multiplicity of diets and with a clear understanding that eating bread to satiety was rather a status symbol. Those who had most bread in their diet were not peasants who grew it by the sweat of their brows, but citizens and soldiers, for whom the wheat was collected by the coercive apparatus of the state. And in closing, I wish to go back to the peasant family from the district of Arneai. While a Russian peasant would have starved to death after two or three years of wheat crop failure, the biographer of Saint Nicholas of Sion did not consider noteworthy that the peasants from Arneai had survived this condition for twenty years. This was not the miracle. It was obvious for the hagiographer that the peasants had alternative sources of nutrition – well described by Michel Kaplan.60 As we have learned, these food resources alternative to cereal grains were not a mere dietary supplement reduced to ca. 30 percent of the total calorie intake, but rather made up between a half and two thirds of peasants’ nourishment.

God as the husbandman of the world

58The tedious calculations of surface and capacity measures, weights, yields, and rations, that I have presented above, will fascinate very few readers apart from the recipient of this volume. Models and mentalities, images and societal patterns, sanctity and gender, have long pushed agrarian topics away from the foreground of Byzantine studies, leaving little place for technicalities. But even for a reader abreast of these modern trends in our field of study, the inscription from Pisidian Antioch brings something unexpected and inspiring: the image of “my Lord, the husbandman of the world” ( κύριός μου γεωργὸς τοῦ κόσμου).

59The antecedents of this image are easy to grasp. The closest textual parallel, kindly pointed out to me by Olivier Delouis, comes from the realm of wine-growing, when Christ describes himself as vineyard and his Father as its tender/γεωργός: Ἐγώ εἰμι ἄμπελος ἀληθινή, καὶ πατήρ μου γεωργός ἐστιν (John 15, 1). Yet, the Gospels, and the New Testament as a whole, also carry quite a few agricultural parables focused on sowing. Enough is to mention the Parable of the Sower in Mark 4 (cf. Luke 8) featuring God sowing grain which is the word ( σπείρων τὸν λόγον σπείρει). In the specific context of the inscription that deals with sowing and reaping the harvest, γεωργός could also be translated as harvester.

  • 61 John Chrysostom, In acta apostolorum, Homily XVIII, PG 60, col. 147.
  • 62 I quote the retroversion in Greek of the Slavonic translation by D. E. Afinogenov, Pohvala prep. Ev (...)

60The parables were variously developed by commentators. John Chrysostom may instruct a cleric to cultivate his flock’s souls just as they cultivate their fields (γεωργοῦσιν ἐκεῖνοι τὴν γῆν, σὺ γεώργησον αὐτῶν τὰς ψυχάς).61 Cyril of Scythopolis praises the saints Euthymios and Sabas as peasants who sowed grace on earth (ὑμᾶς τοὺς γεωργοὺς ὡς ἀληθῶς φρονίμους μακαρίζομεν· ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς γὰρ ἀφειδῶς ἐσπείρετε ἔλεος).62 But no number of agricultural metaphors should cover up the fact that the image of God as the “husbandman of the world” is peculiar to the theological thinking of our farmer and to the commemorative inscription from Antioch in Pisidia. And while I have nothing further to add on the topic, I am sure that this aspect of the inscription will retain attention and receive comment.

61It is, therefore, with all the more joy that I offer this small new text to the untiring tiller of the field of Byzantine studies, Professor Michel Kaplan.

Figure 2 - The harvest inscription from Antioch in Pisidia: editio princeps

Abbreviations

62Decker, Tilling the Hateful Earth
M. Decker, Tilling the Hateful Earth. Agricultural Production and Trade in the Late Antique East, Oxford 2009 (Oxford Studies in Byzantium)

63Géométries du fisc
Géométries du fisc byzantin,
éd. J. Lefort et al., Paris 1991 (Réalités byzantines 4)

64Kaplan, Les hommes et la terre à Byzance
M. Kaplan, Les hommes et la terre à Byzance du vie au xie siècle. Propriété et exploitation du sol, Paris 1992 (Byz. Sorb. 10)

65Zuckerman, Du village à l’Empire
C. Zuckerman, Du village à l’Empire : autour du registre fiscal d’Aphroditô (525/526), Paris 2004 (Centre de recherche d’histoire et civilisation de Byzance. Monographies 16)

Notes

1 I owe this indication of origin to an oral communication by Thomas Drew-Bear.

2 V. Ruggieri, M. Turillo, La scultura bizantina ad Antiochia di Pisidia, Rome 2011 (OCA 288), p. 131-132, no. 69, photo 86 (on which the text cannot be read). The authors note the location of the capital in the garden of the Museum, with no inventory number. This is, no doubt, where it was placed ca. 2000 (cf. above).

3 C. Mango, Notes d’épigraphie et d’archéologie: Constantinople, Nicée, TM 12, 1994, p. 343-357 (with 5 plates), see p. 350-353.

4 A. Rhoby, Byzantinische Epigramme auf Stein nebst Addenda zu den Bänden 1 und 2, Vienna 2014 (Byzantinische Epigramme in inschriftlicher Überlieferung 3) (Veröffentlichungen zur Byzanzforschung 35), no. TR94, p. 700-701.

5 Cf. C. Mango, Byzantine Epigraphy (4th to 10th Centuries), in Paleografia e codicologia greca: Atti del II Colloquio internazionale (Berlino-Wolfenbüttel, 17-21 ottobre 1983), ed. D. Harlfinger and G. Prato, 2 vol., Alessandria 1991, t. 1, p. 234-249, with plates, t. 2, p. 117-146; on pl. 25 (dedicatory inscription from Fenari Isa Camii, in Istanbul, from 907), the forms of both mu and, in particular, omega, are identical to our inscription.

6 J. Gascou, Une inscription tarifaire de Césarée-sur-Mer, in Entre texte et histoire. Études d’histoire médiévale offertes au professeur Shoichi Sato, ed. O. Kano and J.-L. Lemaître, Paris 2015 (De l’archéologie à l’histoire), p. 143-149, on p. 144-145, with bibliography.

7 See the survey and the plate in B. Palme, Abrechnung über Schiffe der Kaiserin, in Wiener Papyri als Festgabe zum 60. Geburtstag von Hermann Harrauer, ed. Id., Vienna 2001, p. 233-242, on p. 238-239 (with pl. 41).

8 See Zuckerman, Du village à l’Empire, p. 161-163.

9 Nikephoros, Patriarch of Constantinople, Short History, ed. and trans. C. Mango, Washington DC 1990 (CFHB 13), p. 160, chap. 85.

10 A Social History of Byzantium, ed. J. Haldon, Chichester 2009, p. 283 (Glossary).

11 “Modios (thalassios) (40 liters) 12.8 kg = 17.084 liters (Schilbach, Metrologie, p. 95),” see The Economic History of Byzantium, ed. A. E. Laiou, Washington DC 2002, t. 2, p. 817 (article by C. Morrisson and J.-C. Cheynet). It needs to be explained that the liter in the first case is the Roman libra, a measure of weight, while in the second case it is the modern liter, a capacity measure. The same capacity is universally applied to modios by Kaplan, Les hommes et la terre à Byzance, p. 56, with n. 263 and passim, even though in one instance (p. 472) the author draws a distinction between this (standard) modios and the modios thalassios.

12 Decker, Tilling the Hateful Earth, p. 113, with n. 157, his main bibliographical item being the entry “modios” in the Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. The problem of the volume and weight of the Late Antique modios has long been resolved (cf. below), but gallica non leguntur, if I dare to paraphrase here the late Alexander Kazhdan.

13 The acts of Athos cited in the text were edited as following: Actes de Chilandar. 1, Des origines à 1319, ed. M. žIvojinović, V. Kravari and C. Giros, Paris 1998 (Archives de l’Athos 20); Actes d’Iviron. 3, De 1204 à 1328, ed. J. Lefort et al., Paris 1994 (Archives de l’Athos 18); Actes de Lavra. 1, Des origines à 1204; 2. De 1204 à 1328; 3. De 1329 à 1500; ed. P. Lemerle et al., Paris 1970, 1977, 1979 (Archives de l’Athos 5, 8, 10); Actes de Vatopédi. 1, Des origines à 1329, ed. J. Bompaire et al., Paris 2001 (Archives de l’Athos 21); Actes de Xénophon, ed. D. Papachryssanthou, Paris 1986 (Archives de l’Athos 15).

14 Both treatises are re-edited, translated and commented in Géométries du fisc, see § 7 and 19, p. 42 and 48, respectively, for the passages quoted.

15 E. Schilbach, Byzantinische Metrologie, Munich 1970 (Handbuch der Altertumswissenschaft 12.4), p. 25-26.

16 Géométries du fisc, p. 34.

17 J. Karayannopulos, Fragmente aus dem Vademecum eines byzantinischen Finanzbeamten, in Polychronion. Festschrift Franz Dölger zum 75. Geburtstag, ed. P. Wirth, Heidelberg 1966, p. 318-334, see p. 319.

18 E. Schilbach, Byzantinische metrologische Quellen, Thessalonike 1982 (Βυζαντινὰ Κείμενα καὶ Μελέται 19), p. 16-17.

19 Id., Metrologisches aus dem 11. Jahrhudert, BZ 92, 1999, p. 74-79.

20 Géométries du fisc, p. 32, n. 110 (citing the opinion of Brigitte Mondrain).

21 Dans le Canon 8 de Chenouté quelques passages peuvent in the Economy,” in The Economic History of Byzantium (cited in n. 11), t. 3, p. 973-1058, see p. 977. It is noteworthy that Oikonomides follows Schilbach and Lefort in tentatively attributing to Michael IV a major “reform of the system of weights and measures – with implications for taxation” (p. 975-976) and does not notice that this attribution is grounded in their early dating of Zaborda 121, which he does not retain.

22 L. Burgmann, D. Simon, Ein unbekanntes Rechtsbuch, in Fontes Minores I, Frankfurt 1976 (Forschungen zur byzantinischen Rechtsgeschichte 1), p. 73-101, see p. 73.

23 L. Politis, Κατάλογος χειρογράφων Ἱερᾶς Μονῆς Ζάβορδας, Thessalonike 2012, p. 95-105, see esp. p. 104.

24 On the different attested ways of extending the orgyia, difficult to put into a system, see Géométries du fisc, p. 213-214.

25 Schilbach, Byzantinische metrologische Quellen (cited in n. 18), IV, 7, p. 139.

26 See Βυζαντινὰ ἔγγραφα τῆς Μονῆς Πάτμου. Β΄, Δημοσίων Λειτουργῶν, ed. M. Nystazopoulou-Pelekidou, Athens 1980, no. 56 of 1195, no. 59 of 1199, and no. 60 of 1203, with ample commentary.

27 Re-edited by Schilbach, Byzantinische metrologische Quellen (cited in n. 18), III, 1, p. 126-132; cf. p. 27-28 on the date.

28 P. Gautier, Le typikon de la Théotokos Kécharitôménè, REB 43, 1985, p. 5-165, see p. 12-13 (date), 115, l. 1701 (modios thalassios), 161 (modios in the index). The typika cited are all translated in Byzantine Monastic Foundation Documents. A Complete Translation of the Surviving Founders’ Typika and Testaments, ed. J. Thomas and A. Constantinides Hero, 5 vol., Washington DC 2000 (Dumbarton Oaks Studies 35).

29 P. Gautier, Le typikon du Christ Sauveur Pantocrator, REB 32, 1974, p. 1-145, see p. 12-14 (the tables), 109, l. 1345-1346 (the ratio), p. 137 (various modia in the index).

30 See Schilbach, Byzantinische Metrologie (cited in n. 15), p. 99-100.

31 P. Gautier, La diataxis de Michel Attaliate, REB 39, 1981, p. 5-143. I refer to the lines of this edition in the text.

32 See Schilbach, Byzantinische Metrologie (cited in n. 15), p. 109, 111 (“der θαλάσσιος μόδιος entsprach, wie gesagt, dem antiken modius castrensis”), etc.

33 J. Haldon, The Organisation and Support of an Expeditionary Force: Manpower and Logistics in the Middle Byzantine Period, in Το εμπόλεμο Βυζάντιο (9ος-12ος αι.) / Byzantium at War (9th-12th c.), ed. K. Tsiknakis, Athens 1997, p. 111-151, see p. 126-128.

34 See Zuckerman, Du village à l’Empire, p. 168-169, with references.

35 In a later study, John Haldon explains the change of name of modius castrensis into annonikos by “the shift in the weight of the Byzantine pound,” see L. Brubaker, J. Haldon, Byzantium in the Iconoclast Era, c. 680-850: A History, Cambridge 2011, p. 477, n. 61. This is unlikely: the sources show no awareness of this tiny shift, if it ever occurred. The use of a distinctive adjective marks the periods of transition, when there is a need to differentiate two modioi.

36 Géométries du fisc, p. 34.

37 Decker, Tilling the Hateful Earth, p. 82-83; the quotes from Decker below are from these pages.

38 C. J. Kraemer, Excavations at Nessana. 3, Non-literary Papyri, Princeton 1958, no. 82, p. 237-240. The editor’s introductory considerations on yields are an example of the confusion due to the non-distinction between the modius italicus of the classical texts and the modius castrensis of Late Antiquity. The recent claim by Ph. Mayerson, Grain Yield Ratios in P. Ness. 3.82 (VII), Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 44, 2007, p. 175-178, that grain described as wheat (σῖτος) in Nessana papyri was actually “maslin,” mixed with barley and other contaminants, remains a pure speculation.

39 Kraemer, Non-literary Papyri (cited in n. 38), no. 83, p. 241-243, see the editor’s note to lines 5-6, too often disregarded.

40 Decker, Tilling the Hateful Earth, refers to É. Patlagean, Pauvreté économique et pauvreté sociale à Byzance (ive-viie siècle), Paris/La Haye 1977 (Civilisations et sociétés 48), p. 247-248. Patlagean, however, cites the data from both P. Ness. III 82 and 83, and thus has a more balanced view of the yields, which, according to her, “s’inscrivent bien dans cette ‘stabilité millénaire’ des rendements céréaliers méditerranéens.” She even calls in doubt the authenticity of data on the higher yields (and misstates the data on the lower yields).

41 Kaplan, Les hommes et la terre, p. 81.

42 See, e.g., Géométries du fisc, § 4 and 7, p. 40 and 42.

43 See The Life of Saint Nicholas of Sion, ed. trans. I. Ševčenko and N. Patterson Ševčenko, Brookline MA 1984 (The Archbishop Iakovos Library of Ecclesiastical and Historical Sources 10), p. 92-95, chap. 59-60. I quote the editors’ translation.

44 Kaplan, Les hommes et la terre, p. 81-82, with reference to N. Svoronos, Remarques sur les structures économiques de l’Empire byzantin au xie siècle, TM 6, 1976, p. 49-67, on p. 57-58 (with arguments of unequal value).

45 K. Smyrlis, Byzantium, in Agrarian Change and Crisis in Europe, 1200-1500, ed. H. Kitsikopoulos, New York/London 2012 (Routledge Research in Medieval Studies 1), p. 128-166, on p. 138-139, with important observations in the notes, p. 155-156.

46 J. Lefort, The Rural Economy, Seventh-Twelfth Centuries, in The Economic History of Byzantium (cited in n. 11), t. 1, p. 231-310 (the original French text published in Id., Société rurale et histoire du paysage à Byzance, Paris 2006 [Bilans de recherche 1], p. 295-478), on p. 300-301, suggesting an “average” yield of 1:4.8.

47 Lefort, ibid., cited by Oikonomides, The Role (cited in n. 21), p. 1002, who assumes, for the middle Byzantine period, “that the average yield was 4-5 parts of crop for each part of seed on high-quality land.” For first-quality land this would be, however, an understatement.

48 Lefort, The Rural Economy (cited in n. 46), cites the well-known passage on the different ways of measuring applied to poorer soils to compensate for their low fertility (Géométries du fisc, § 51, p. 62).

49 Decker, Tilling the Hateful Earth, p. 82, with reference to L. Foxhall, H. A. Forbes, ΣΙΤΟΜΕΤΡΙΑ: The Role of Grain as a Staple Food in Classical Antiquity, Chiron 12, 1982, p. 41-90, on p. 48.

50 See A. T. Jiménez González, Milling Process of Durum Wheat, in Durum Wheat Quality in the Mediterranean Region, ed. N. Di Fonzo, F. Kaan and M. Nachit, Saragossa 1995 (Options Méditerranéennes. Séminaires Méditerranéens 22), p. 43-51, on p. 45.

51 See Zuckerman, Du village à l’Empire, p. 166-167; cf. the remarks by J. Gascou, La table budgétaire d’Antaeopolis (P. Freer 08.45 c-d; SB XX 14494), revised version in Id., Fiscalité et société en Égypte byzantine, Paris 2008 (Bilans de recherche 4), p. 309-349, on p. 324-326.

52 See M. Junkelmann, Panis militaris. Die Ernährung des römischen Soldaten oder der Grundstoff der Macht, Mainz 20063 (Kulturgeschichte der antiken Welt 75), p. 112-113, for the last two estimates going back to L. A. Moritz, Grain-Mills and Flour in Classical Antiquity, Oxford 1958.

53 Lefort, The Rural Economy (cited in n. 46), p. 247.

54 Ibid., p. 248.

55 On rations, see Zuckerman, Du village à l’Empire, p. 160-170; cf. Id., Le cirque, l’argent et le peuple. À propos d’une inscription du Bas-Empire, REB 58, 2000, p. 69-96, on the δημόται, citizens of Constantinople defined by the entitlement to annona rations.

56 For the various appraisals of the minimal calorie intake necessary for survival, see B. Milanovic, An Estimate of Average Income and Inequality in Byzantium around Year 1000, Review of Income and Wealth 52/3, 2006, p. 449-470, on p. 454. The lowest estimate quoted by the author places the subsistence minimum at 2 000 calories per day.

57 J. Lefort, Rural Economy and Social Relations in the Countryside, DOP 47, 1993, p. 101-113, on p. 103 (reprinted in Id., Société rurale [cited in n. 46], p. 279-292, on p. 281).

58 Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2012.10.08 (online). For more praise, see the review by J. Haldon in Journal of Agrarian Change 11/2, 2011, p. 269-271.

59 L. G. Allbaugh, Crete: A Case Study of an Underdeveloped Area, Princeton 1953, p. 106-114.

60 Kaplan, Les hommes et la terre, p. 25-46; see also a comprehensive survey in Decker, Tilling the Hateful Earth.

61 John Chrysostom, In acta apostolorum, Homily XVIII, PG 60, col. 147.

62 I quote the retroversion in Greek of the Slavonic translation by D. E. Afinogenov, Pohvala prep. Evfimiju Velikomu i prep. Savve Osvjaščennomu Kirilla Skifopol’skogo, Vestnik drevnej istorii 2014/1 (288), p. 231-251, and 2014/2 (289), p. 218-234, see p. 218.

Notes de fin

1 I am very grateful to Denis Feissel and to Cécile Morrisson, as well as to the editors of the volume, for their insightful remarks on this text.

Table des illustrations

Légende Figure 1 - The harvest inscription from Antioch in Pisidia (Yalvaç Museum, no inventory number)
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Légende Figure 2 - The harvest inscription from Antioch in Pisidia: editio princeps
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