Alexandrou Nesos (Meris of Themistos)
The name ijAlexavndrou Nh'so" is no doubt derived from a person who owned an estate in the village. The demotic equivalent T3-m3y-n-P3-whr, which is ascertained by the bilingual surety documents P.Lille dem. 50 and 51, suggests that this person had a double name, Alexandros in Greek, P3-whr, i.e. Pouoris in Egyptian. In a few texts from the Ptolemaic and even Roman period the full form hJ jAlexavndrou Nh'so" with the article is used. The abbreviated form without nesos does not occur before the 2nd cent. AD and remains rather exceptional. In fragmentary texts it is sometimes uncertain whether the village is meant or a personal name. In Byzantine texts the village is usually called Alexandrou chorion. Though the identity of Alexandrou Nesos and Alexandrou chorion is not accepted by Dizionario I.1, pp.211-212, it seems likely, given the many parallels for other village names.
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Alexandrou Nesos is explicitly situated in the meris of Themistos both in the Ptolemaic and Roman period. In P.Ent. 10 the village is apparently in the toparchy of Tesenuphis, which covered a large part of the meris of Themistos. Youtie 1983 locates Berenikis Aigialou near the shore of the lake, close to Dionysias; Alexandrou Nesos is then situated between Dionysias and Theadelpheia. On the map in Rathbone 1991, p.xix, it is placed east of Euhemeria, with Berenikis Aigialou even further east. But neither village is common in the extensive documentation of Theadelpheia and Euhemeria. Jördens 1995, pp.50 and 89 puts Alexandrou Nesos in the vicinity of Krokodilon polis ("in der Nähe der Gauhauptstadt") and Banaji 2002, p.246, tentatively identifies it with medieval Babig Anshu, near modern Abu Ginshu. We here follow K.Müller 2003, p.122, who has approximately located the village by multidimensional scaling of the papyrological information, but only new documents can bring more certainty.
In P.Lille dem. 50 and 51 Alexandrou Nesos is coupled to a second village, called P3-h3.t-rsy in demotic, which corresponds to Ptolemai" in Greek, no doubt for Ptolemais Drymou. This village is found elsewhere together with Alexandrou Nesos. Another neighbouring village was Berenikis Aigialou, which is often found in the same context.
Greek cleruchs are attested from the late third century onwards [Uebel 1968, nos.357-361]. The Thracian Lezelmis or Dilezelmis accuses Dositheos, a Jewish inhabitant, of stealing a cloak (P.Ent. 30). Other Jewish settlers, some of them soldiers (taktomisthoi), undertake works on a vineyard of an Alexandrian in the village (P.Köln III 144).
Already in the third cent. BC the Greek Herakleides emigrates to the nome capital (P.Ent. 79).
Nearly twenty vineyard owners, both Egyptians and Greeks, are attested for the village in the tax lists of P.Petrie III 117. In P.Petrie III 117g, where the vineyards are valued, the total sum amounts to more than 620 drachmas. There are also several date palm groves. In the second century BC a vineyard is owned by the Alexandrian Euarchos and another one by the strategos Melankomas (P.Köln III 144). Vineyards continue to be prominent up to the Byzantine period (BGU I 319; CPR XIV 4; SB I 4894; SB XVIII 13998).
In AD 239/240 a phrontis of Titanianus' estate in Alexandrou Nesos was headed by Saprion [cf. Rathbone 1991, p.27 no.10 and p.77 no.41]. If Appianus also had a phrontis in the village, it played only a minor role.
In the sixth century some land is administered by a deacon of Arsinoe; no doubt it was owned by one of the churches of the nome capital (CPR XIV 4).
In the Roman period Alexandrou Nesos had a flourishing cattle market (agora), where people from all over the Fayum came to do business [cf. Jördens 1995, 50-52, 80, 89-90]. Some even consulted the oracle before making the trip (P.Strasb. V 354). The sale of livestock (donkeys, camels, cows, perhaps even horses) was subject to a ten percent sales tax and a service paid to the tax supervisors. These epistatai had blank receipt forms drawn up in advance (BGU XIII 2336) and submitted five-day reports to the strategos (BGU XIII 2275 contains two such reports united into a tomos synkollesimos).
An account of sheep and oxen listed by village counts 108 sheep for Alexandrou Nesos (SB XII 11048). The oil-seller Manres son of Teos is probably identical with the homonymous vineyard owner Manres, which shows he was well off. Taxes on nitrike and on chrysochoike attest a local washing business and goldsmith workshop in the Ptolemaic period. In P.Gurob 13 the oikonomos Aristokritos exacts unpaid taxes on pigeon houses, cattle grazing and a bathhouse in the late third cent. BC.
Temples of Demeter and the Dioskouroi were apparently situated among the vineyards around the village. In 223 BC a pastophoros of Hathor of Aphrodites polis and an astronomer of Herishef are sureties for the oil merchant of Alexandrou Nesos. Pastophoroi of Alexandrou Nesos pay 24 artabas of wheat to the temple of Serapis in the capital (P.Lille I 11; 3rd cent. BC).
P.Ent. 20 is a petition concerning the right of a decent burial for deceased member of a thiasos; the persons involved are Greeks but the nature of the thiasos escapes us. According to P.Hawara Lüddeckens 4 a person of Alexandrou Nesos is buried in Hawara in 220 BC. The popularity of Amenemhat III, the Middle Kingdom pharaoh who had his pyramid and mortuary temple in Hawara, is confirmed by the frequent occurrence of the personal name Marres in the village [cf. Clarysse-Depauw 2008].
A Jewish thief hides a stolen mantle with the nakoros Nikomachos in the local "synagogue of the Jews" [cf. CPJ I 129].
In AD 250 Aur. Diogenes receives a libellus in Alexandrou Nesos, proving that he has offered to the gods during the Decian persecution (BGU I 287). In the Byzantine period several village priests and deacons are attested. Stud. Pal. VIII 815, 856 and 860 constitute a small dossier of three receipts for the poll tax (demosion) with the priest Theodoros paying and the deacon Ioseph signing.
Two administrative letters in demotic were written by the village scribe Marres son of Anchophis in 236 or 212 BC, dealing among other things with Greek mercenary soldiers (misthophoroi). Another Ptolemaic village scribe, with the Greek name Apol[lonios] is apparently mentioned in an unpublished papyrus from Penn (information by R.Kraft).
For a prosopography of villagers of Alexandrou Nesos, click here.
W. Clarysse, 25 Jun 2007