UC Berkeley Library

Update: Moffitt Library is closed for seismic work, but most other libraries are open. Learn more.

Using the Library during COVID-19

Most of UC Berkeley’s library buildings are open. To stay up to date on the Library’s policies and services during the pandemic, visit the Library’s COVID-19 webpage.

Glossary of Technical Terms

Content section: 


“chief guard”; head of the village guards



Egyptian area measure, measuring 2756 square meters (about half a football field); a person could live on the net produce of 2 arouras


Arsinoite nome

administrative unit comprising the modern Fayum basin; the Arsinoite nome was divided in three “divisions”: the Division of Herakleides, the Division of Themistos, and the Division of Polemon (southern part); Tebtunis, Kerkeosiris, and Oxyrhyncha were all situated in the Division of Polemon



Egyptian dry measure of variable capacity, about 40 liters; a person could live on about 10 artabas of wheat per year


basilikos grammateus

“royal scribe”; nome official, responsible for administration of the Crown revenues from the nome


material from which Egyptian funerary masks and other parts of mummy cases were made from the First Intermediate Period onward; made of layers of linen or papyrus covered with plaster; in Fayum some painted mummy portrait panels were made of cartonnage



cleruchic land



land granted by the king to soldiers (and a small number of civil servants) as a reward for services rendered



a more cursive form of hieratic writing, which developed from hieroglyphic writing; demotic writing appeared around 600 BCE  and began to replace hieratic writing in administrative contexts, whereas hieratic often continued to be used in religious texts until Coptic replaced both


highest-ranking official of Ptolemaic Egypt; "manager" of the country



the basic unit of currency in Graeco-Roman Egypt



in Classical Greece, young men undergoing training in the gymnasium; in a looser sense prevailing in Graeco-Roman Egypt, those enrolled in a privileged class of citizens of Alexandria, membership in which also conferred tax benefits



overseer, supervisor; while there were several “overseers” on various levels of the administration, the epistates referred to most frequently is the epistates of the village, who could be called the local police chief



a cursive form of hieroglyphic writing whereby original hieroglyphic signs were simplified, even down to a single stroke or dot, and signs were sometimes combined for simplicity


liquid measure of varying capacity



village official, more or less "mayor"



village secretary, whose primary responsibility was the administration of the Crown revenues deriving from the lands of his village



chief town of a nome



geographical and administrative unit, more or less a province



monetary unit, equal to 1/6 drachma


(plural ostraca) a sherd of pottery, usually from broken vases, urns, or other vessels, or a fragment of stone; used as a writing surface in place of papyrus, especially for short documentary texts


governor of Egypt in the Roman period



priestly office


sacred land

land granted by the king to gods (temples)



official in charge of the local granary; responsible for grain revenues



highest-ranking nome official



monetary unit, equal to 6,000 drachmas



district secretary