Arsinoe (meris of Themistos)
Arsinoe in the meris of Themistos occurs 73 times in 43 papyri (four demotic texts, the others Greek). The papyrological documentation begins in 251 BC with P.Col.Zen I 51, a text from the Zenon archive and continues up to AD 320 with P.Sakaon 7. The dynastic name shows that the village was founded after the death of Arsinoe in 270 BC.
The village name Arsinoe (᾿Αρσινόη) corresponds to the Demotic P3-c.wy-3rsyn3, as shown in the bilingual text P.Lille dem. II 96 + SB XVI 12414 (cf. Müller 2006 , p. 25. The name refers to a queen Arsinoe, probably Arsinoe II (ca. 275-270 BC). Some Ptolemaic texts call the village <᾿Αρσινόη ἐπὶ τοῦ χώματος, 'Arsinoe on the dyke'; P.Petrie III 78 and P.Petrie 79a+c read ᾿Αρσινόη ἐπὶ τοῦ ζεύγματος, 'Arsinoe on the canal-lock. Clearly the village was situated on an important canal.
At the end of the third century, Arsinoe had the status of a kome.
There was a second Arsinoe in the meris of Herakleides, Arsinoe kat'Ammoniada, and the capital of the Arsinoite nome, known during the Ptolemaic period as Krokodilon Polis, was also called Arsinoe in the Roman period.
To distinguish between these villages is sometimes difficult, especially since theycan all be referred to as Arsinoe, without the distinctive second part of the name. The instances where we were unable to make a certain identification, have been entered under a separate lemma 'Arsinoe'.
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The village is located in the meris of Themistos. The demotic P.Bürgsch. 23 specifies that Arsinoe was situated in the southern shore-land of the Arsinoite nome, meaning that is was not too far south from Lake Moeris, the northern boundary of the meris. This coincides well with the villages found frequently in connection with Arsinoe, such as Theadelpheia, Philagris, Theoxenis and Hermou Polis, which were all situated in the northern part of the meris. It must have been somewhere near a canal and perhaps a canal-lock, according to its name (see preceding section).
Foreign cleruchs living in Arsinoe at the end of the third century BC are listed by Uebel 1968, nrs. 367- 378. In 223/222 BC, an Arab farmer (Petemous) lived in Arsinoe (P.Tebt. III 815 (2)).
In the third century BC several cleruchs owned land in Arsinoe. Details are scarce, however: Aristion owned a kleros of at least 36 arouras (P.Tebt. III 815 (2)). Nikanor, a cleruch from the Hermopolite nome, had some land and a vineyard in Arsinoe (P.Tebt. III 815 (6)); Kallias had another vineyard of unknown size (P.Petrie III 117 (d)).
Other papyri record payments of small amounts of wheat, e.g. P.Petrie III 79a+c (247-231 BC) or P.Sakaon 7 (AD 320). In 251 BC, Stotoetis, a representative of Zenon, bought 75 artabas of first quality arakos (P.Col.Zen. I 51). In the extensive BGU III 802 (AD 42) a certain Kastor pays taxes on beans.
In several texts of the third century BC Arsinoe pays taxes, among which the chrysochoike (P.Petrie III 117e), the nitrike (P.Petrie III 117a) and oil-taxes (P.Petrie III 66). Marres, son of Phanesis was the oil-merchant of Arsinoe about 230 BC.
In P.Enteuxeis 4 the Cyrenaean cavalryman Philiskos accuses the weaver Hedeia of having stolen a piece of cloth. In the early second century BC, Arsinoe had an ergasterion (ejrgasthvrion, P.Tebt. III 774).
Spemminis and Petoys were brewers of the village at the end of the third century BC. In 185 BC, Arsinoe is listed with some other villages of the meris of Themistos as paying for the beer-tax. Arsinoe pays 18,000 drachmas, by far the largest sum, even more than Theadelpheia (SB XX 14955).
As the number of papyri drops in the Roman period, so does our knowledge of economic activities in Arsinoe in later periods. A donkey-driver Mysthes, owning 5 donkeys, figures in a second-century list (P.Col. II 1Ro (5)), while in P.Lond. III 1107 (AD III) Arsinoepays for limenos Mempheos, epistateia and pempte.
In three demotic papyri Arsinoe is called a Souchos-village, which is not surprising as Souchos was the patron deity of the Fayum. The isionomos Ameneus and his wife Stotoetis own an isieion with altar and several rooms in the village (P.Enteux. 80).
According to P.Enteux. 25, Ptolemaios was epistates of the village in the third century BC. Around the same time, a certain Marres was a jailor in Arsinoe (SB III 7202); a prison is also mentioned in P.Bürgsch. 23. Ammonios who, originating from Krokodilon Polis, served as a sitologos in several villages in the meris of Themistos including Arsinoe (P.Tebt. III 774, 187 BC). An anonymous sitologos is mentioned in BGU IX 1895, AD 157.
B. Van Beek, Mar 7 2003