Credit and Financial Capital in Roman Egypt

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Roman Egypt sets an example of a monetized society in which credit was widely used in both monetary and in-kind transactions. During the first two and a half centuries of Roman rule, interactions between the three main legal systems in Egypt—Demotic, Greek, and Roman—gradually created a coherent institutional environment that structured credit and financial capital. In this environment, Greek law gained the upper hand as the most frequently used system of law for conducting economic interactions. The administrative, fiscal, and financial conditions set up by Roman governance, and above all the new and reduced maximum Roman legal interest rate, affected the development of credit-related mechanisms. Legal structures that enabled the creation of credit went through a slow and gradual change, in which available legal formats were adjusted to accommodate for somewhat different activities. Παραθήκη‎ formulae, originally used for making deposits, increasingly were being used in de facto loans, thereby casting new content in an existing formula. While this practice is commonly attested in transactions between private individuals, using παραθήκη‎ agreements seems not to have served as a common financial tool for Roman Egypt’s banking sector.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationCapital, Investment, and Innovation in the Roman World
EditorsPaul Erdkamp, Koenraad Verboven, Arjan Zuiderhoek
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9780191877995
ISBN (Print)9780198841845
StatePublished - 18 Feb 2020


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