Marjorie S. Venit
Distinguished in the first century
Laurens E. Tacoma
This article is based on two simple assumptions: first, that Roman Egypt had a relatively large population, and secondly, that it had a large number of settlements. The aim is then to analyse how the population was distributed over these settlements, and by what methods we may perform such an analysis. The article is organized as follows. The first section discusses the validity of the standard typology of dividing Egyptian settlements into cities, towns, and villages. The second section discusses the various population estimates that have been put forward. It argues that, despite the uncertainties involved, they imply that levels of urbanization were relatively high. The third section considers in more detail the criteria that have been employed to determine what constitutes a city. They show that instead of a clear-cut dichotomy between city and village, a spectrum of settlements existed. The fourth section discusses the implications of this spectrum for the study of population structure. To what extent is it legitimate to differentiate demographically between rural and urban populations? The fifth and last section discusses several broader theories that may be helpful in analysing settlement patterns.
Olaf E. Kaper
The Western Oases formed part of the Egyptian cultural realm from the time of the early Old Kingdom. The large oases of Bahariya, Dakhla, and Kharga are known to have had a continuous occupation and intensive contacts with the Nile Valley throughout their history. The Roman period is of special significance in the history of the oases because it was the time of their greatest agricultural expansion and biggest population increase until modern times. Their economic importance was based on the production of olives, olive oil, wine, and dates, and on the exploitation of natural resources such as alum, salt, and ochre. This article discusses the geography, archaeology, and cultural idiosyncrasies of the Western Oases.