The Galilean Fishing Economy
and the Jesus Tradition

K. C. Hanson

Originally published in Biblical Theology Bulletin 27 (1997) 99-111
(© 1997 Reprinted here by permission of the publisher) 


Building on the earlier studies of ancient fishing by Rostovtzeff and Wuellner, this article examines fishing as a sub-system within the political-economy and domestic-economy of first-century Galilee. I employ a model of embedded economics to articulate the relationships between the various players in the sub-system: the Roman emperors; Herod Antipas; the tax administrators; the brokers, tax collectors, and toll collectors; the fishing families; the hired laborers; the suppliers of raw goods and other products; fish processors; and shippers and carters. This model is developed in order to provide a more focussed frame of reference for the interpretation of the Jesus tradition (metaphors and narratives) and the location of Jesus' activity and network recruitment in Galilean fishing villages.

    "And passing along beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew, Simon's brother, casting a net in the sea, for they were fishers." (Mark 1:16)

    "The man is like a wise fisher who, having cast his net into the sea, pulled the net up from the sea full of small fish. The wise fisher, upon finding among them a fine large fish, threw all the little fish back into the sea, choosing the big fish without difficulty." (Gos. Thom. 8)

    Homer to fishers: "Ay, for of such fathers you are sprung as neither hold rich lands nor tend countless sheep." (Epigram 17c; Evelyn-White 1914:477)

    "And the most shameful occupations are those which cater to our sensual pleasures: 'fish-sellers, butchers, cooks, poultry-raisers, and fishermen,' as Terence says." (Cicero, On Duties 1.42)

    "On the subject of disciples Rabban Gamaliel the Elder spoke of four kinds: An unclean fish, a clean fish, a fish from the Jordan, a fish from the Great Sea." (The Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan 40; Goldin 1955:166)

    Clearchus of Soli: "Stale salt-fish likes marjoram." (quoted by Athenaeus, Deipnosophists 3.116)

I. Introduction

Both the physical and social geographies of Galilee are heavily impacted by an inland waterway known by various names in antiquity, but most commonly as the Sea of Galilee. This body of water is currently approximately 7 miles wide and 12.5 miles long, but the dimensions may have been slightly different in antiquity (Freyne 1992:900; Josephus, War 3.506). The importance of fish in Palestinian society is signaled by several geographical names (Wuellner 1967:28-33). Jerusalem had a "fish gate" (Neh 3:3). The capital of Gaulanitus was Bethsaida ("Fishing Village" or "Temple of the Fish-God"), located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee (Mark 6:45). And the Greek name for the town of Magdala on the western shore of Galilee was Tarichaeae ("Processed-Fishville").

Since the synoptic gospels are agreed that Jesus' activity was centered in Herod Antipas's tetrarchy of Galilee, and specifically in the harbor village of Capernaum, this lake could not fail to affect his words or deeds. The following analysis is an attempt to provide a window on part of the political-economic and domestic-economic context for the Jesus tradition, specifically as it pertains to the fishing enterprise on the Sea of Galilee. Significant data-gathering on ancient fishing was carried out by Wuellner 1967), who built on Rostovtzeff's work (1941). What I am pursuing here is a more systemic approach to how the activity of fishing operated as a web of relations within the political and domestic environment of the early first century along the lines of the systemic analysis proposed by Elliott, who adapted earlier macrosociological models (Elliott 1986:13-17). The present study will include not only materials assembled by Wuellner and Rostovtzeff, but also recent Galilean archaeology and inscriptional material from around the Roman Empire on taxation and fishing associations.

Based upon the studies of my colleague Douglas Oakman (1986, 1991; Hanson & Oakman, 2008), it is my observation that biblical scholars commonly tend to misconstrue the Galilean economy (and ancient economies in general) by assuming a market economy similar to a modern European or North American industrialized economy. This general observation connects to a second, more specific, observation: scholars of the Jesus traditions have seriously underplayed the role and significance of the physical and social geography of Galilean fishing on Jesus' development of his network. This lack needs to be addressed. In fact, none of the contemporary treatments of the "historical Jesus" has a single significant thing to say about Galilean fishing beyond the fact that four of the Twelve are identified as fishermen in the tradition (e.g., Borg 1987; Mack 1988; Crossan 1991; R. A. Horsley 1993). Only Rousseau & Arav have even bothered to bring together some of the basic data (1995:19-30, 93-97, 189-90). Further, even works focused on the history and society of Galilee have virtually nothing of importance to say about Galilean fishing in general or its relationship to Jesus (e.g., Freyne 1980, 1988, 1994; R. A. Horsley 1996). In his most recent work, however, Freyne does briefly acknowledge the economic role fishing played in Herodian Galilee (1995:35).

II. An Embedded Economy: Politics and Kinship

Fishing was an important part of the Galilean economy in the first century. But it was not the "free enterprise" which modern readers of the New Testament may imagine. Even fishers who may have owned their own boats were part of a state regulated, elite-profiting enterprise, and a complex web of economic relationships. These are symptoms of an "embedded economy." That is to say, economies in the ancient Mediterranean were not independent systems with "free markets," free trade, stock exchanges, monetization, and the like, as one finds in modern capitalist systems. Rather, only political and kinship systems were explicit social domains; economics and religion were conceptualized, controlled, and sustained either by the political hierarchy or kin-groups ( Polanyi, et al. 1957; Dalton 1961; Polanyi 1968; Finley 1985; Malina 1986; Garnsey & Saller 1987:43-63). For an overall assessment of the setting of Jesus' activity, it is essential to understand the mechanisms of political economies in the ancient Mediterranean in terms of the flow of benefits upward to the urban elites, and especially the ruling families.

It will not be possible here to analyze the complexity of the first-century Galilean embedded economy as a whole ( Oakman 1983:17-91; Hamel 1990; Freyne 1994, 1995; R. A. Horsley 1995; Hanson & Oakman, 2008). Suffice it to say, the largest part of the population was composed of peasant farmers, and the family functioned as both a producing and consuming unit. This means that relatives normally worked together, and that kinship ties were fundamental for "guild" or trade relations. This local, domestic economy was often in tension with the larger political economy. Galilee of the first century was ruled by Herod Antipas, a Roman client, and was therefore a form of what Kautsky calls an "aristocratic empire." Furthermore, it was an "advanced agrarian society" in terms of its form of production and technology. I mention here a few of the basic characteristics of political economies and infrastructures of such societies:
  1. The primary functions exercised by aristocratic families are tax-collection and warfare: both of these functions serve the urban elites' interests (Kautsky: 6, 79).
  2. While the small number of elites compete for honor and the right to control and tax peasant families, peasant families remain at subsistence level, reinforced by a sense of "natural" hierarchy (Lenski : 210-20).
  3. These empires are "exploitative" in that peasants have no say in their control or taxation (Kautsky: 6, 112; Lenski : 210-20); and while the peasants are cognizant of their place in the rather rigid social hierarchy, they develop strategies to evade control through a variety of means (e.g., lying, hiding, protest) (Scott 1977, 1985).
  4. Since much of the peasant families' produce (the so-called "surplus") is extracted by the aristocratic families in the form of labor, produce, and money (through the instruments of tithes, taxes, tolls, rents, tribute, and confiscation), technological progress is impeded, minimizing change; the exception to this is the technology of warfare, since it is subsidized by the aristocratic families to protect their power, privilege, and possessions (Kautsky: 7, 103; Lenski : 210-20).
  5. Improvements in the infrastructure (e.g., roads, aqueducts, harbors) are for the increased benefit of the aristocratic families, not for the benefit the peasant families in return for their taxes (Kautsky: 114).


III. Galilean Fishing as a Social Sub-System

Diagram 1: The Political Economy of Galilean Fishing

The various families in this political-economic and domestic-economic network of relationships—we must avoid imagining individuals who "go to work"—are not equally well documented for Galilee during the first century; some of the relationships are inferred. But I suggest this scenario as a beginning in order to imagine real people involved in real occupations which require a very real network of relationships and transactions. The evidence for the scenario depicted in Diagram #1 is as follows.

1. The Roman emperors became wealthy beyond imagination because of their patronage position with regard to client-kings such as the Herodians (e.g., Suetonius, Twelve Caesars, "Augustus" 60). These clients contributed to the imperial coffers first of all through annual tribute of two primary types: on land and on persons (e.g., Mark 12:13-17; Josephus, War 2.403, 405). Secondly, they profited from indirect taxes of various kinds, including customs fees at ports and roads (Pliny, Natural History 12.32, 63-65). And lastly, they were beneficiaries of their clients' wills. This last source of revenue is often overlooked by modern scholars. Josephus reports that Herod the Great, for example, bequeathed Augustus 1000 talents (6 million denarii) and Julia, Augustus's wife, 500 talents (3 million denarii; Ant. 17.146, 190). (Herod's bequests are examined by Hoehner [1972:269-76], Braund [1984:129-64] and Hanson [1990:18].) Suetonius says that in the last twenty years of his reign, Augustus received 1.4 billion sesterces (= 350 million denarii) from his clients in wills ("Augustus" 101).

As Braund points out, the payment of tribute by client-kings has been a controversial issue among Roman historians (1984:64). While Hoehner (1972:298-300) and Freyne (1995:32) believe the Herodians did pay tribute, Schürer disagrees (1973:1:317, 416-17). Schürer's conclusion is based on Josephus's account of Herod the Great's death. At that time, the people of Judea sought imperial relief, not from Roman tribute, but from the weight of Herodian taxes (Josephus, Ant. 17.304-11). He also points to Suetonius's report that when Caligula restored kings to their realms he granted them "full employment of the revenues and also the produce of the interval" ("Caligula" 16). Braund contends that client-kings in most cases did not pay tribute, even if they paid annual indemnities (1984:66). This, however, seems to be a distinction without a difference. I would conclude that Herod Antipas did pay tribute—whether it was technically so specified or not—based upon the following:
    a) "Tribute" can take many forms, including the grateful "gifts" of clients to honor their imperial patron—either directly (e.g., Josephus, Ant. 14.34-36; 16.16, 86) or indirectly, for example: building temples to the Augusti, or endowing a favorite city of the emperor (e.g., Ant. 16.146-49).

    b) Tribute was exacted by Julius Caesar from Palestine during the Hasmonean era (Ant. 14.202-6).

    c) Josephus explicitly states that Herod the Great paid Roman tribute to Octavian/ Augustus; and he also took responsibility for the tribute on lands he leased from Cleopatra and parts of Arabia (Ant. 15.96, 106-7, 132-33). Appian says:

      He [Octavian] set up kings here and there as he pleased on condition of their paying prescribed tributes: in Pontus, Darius, the son of Pharnaces and grandson of Mithridates; in Idumea and Samaria, Herod; in Pisidia, Amyntas; in a part of Cilicia, Polemon, and others in other countries (Appian, Civil Wars 5.75).
Josephus indicates that for Judea, the collecting of Roman tribute was controlled by urban elites (War 2.405, 407). As for the people of Batanaea, Josephus says that they were ground down by the tribute collected by Agrippa I (late first century), and thereafter completely crushed by the direct collection of the tribute by the Romans (Ant. 17.28).

Another basic way the Romans benefitted from their provinces was through monopolies. Certain trades and industries were essentially "owned" by Rome and contracted to the workers. In Palestine after the First Judean Revolt (66-70 CE), Rome controlled the balsam trade (Pliny, Natural History 12.54, 111-13; Strabo, Geography 16.2.41). In Palmyra the Romans monopolized salt, in Tyre the purple, and in Lebanon lumber; in Egypt, Rome had monopolies over most major industries (Heichelheim 1959:228-31; 1970:699). The net profits from these industries, consequently, went to the Imperial treasury.

2. Herod Antipas ruled Galilee and Perea from 4 BCE—39 CE with the status of tetrarch (Luke 3:1; Josephus, War 1.668; Ant. 17.188). The title of tetrarch was determined both by his father's will and his status as a Roman client controlling a relatively small district. He was the son of Herod the Great and Malthake (a Samaritan); and his full brother and sister were Herod Archelaus (ethnarch of Judea) and Olympias (Josephus, War 1.562; Hanson 1989:78-79). When Herod Antipas founded the city of Tiberias, Josephus says that he rose to be one of the greatest friends of Tiberius (Ant. 18.36). Political life of Galilee under Herod Antipas is analyzed by Hoehner (1972:83-265), Sullivan (1977:306-8), Smallwood (1981:183-87) and Freyne (1988:135-43).

Josephus estimates the annual revenue of Herod Antipas from his tetrarchy at 200 talents = 1.2 million denarii (Ant. 17.318). Compare this to the annual revenues of his ruling relatives (Table 1; note that Salome is often overlooked because of her subordinate status to Archelaus):

TABLE 1: Herodian Revenues




Jamnia, Ashdod, and Phasaelis
60 talents
Ant. 17.321
northern territories
100 talents
Ant. 17.319
Herod Antipas
Galilee and Perea
200 talents
Ant. 17.318
Idumea, Judea, and Samaria
600 talents
Ant. 17.319-20
Agrippa I
all Palestine
2000 talents
Ant. 19.352

Extracting revenues from the land was consistent with earlier periods, for example under Pompey (Josephus, Ant. 14.74, 78) and Julius Caesar ( Ant. 14.202-3). And the people of Roman-era Palestine clearly considered them a heavy burden, as protests demonstrate (Josephus, War 2.4; Tacitus, Annals 2.42).

Josephus calls Herod Antipas a "lover of luxury" (Ant. 18.245). This luxurious lifestyle is only comprehensible in view of his extraction of Galilean resources. Since Josephus himself ranked among the urban elite, I take this as quite a cutting comment, intimating that Herod Antipas was "way over the top."

How many administrative/tax districts (toparchoi) Herod employed is not clear from the sources. Were only Tarichaeae and Tiberias toparchies? Or did Sepphoris and Gabara function in this capacity as well? Strange seems to make contradictory statements in this regard (1992:464). If all four district divisions were used, they would have been responsible for roughly the areas listed in Table 2:

TABLE 2: Administrative/Tax Districts
of Lower Galilee*

northeastern Lower Galilee
northwestern Lower Galilee
southeastern Lower Galilee
southwestern Lower Galilee
(*Corrected from published version)

Royal taxes and duties paid to Archelaus are discussed further in Josephus, War 2.4; Ant. 17.204-5.

The Herodians (either Herod Antipas or Herod the Great before him) also seem to be responsible for the construction of the harbors and breakwaters on the Sea of Galilee. The size of the stones and the required construction organization suggest state building projects. The known harbors correspond directly to the locations where Jesus lived or traveled in the gospels (beginning in the north and going counter-clockwise): Bethsaida, Capernaum, Gennesar, Magdala [Tarichaeae], Gadara, and Gergasa; the other known harbors are: Aish, Tabgha, Emmaus, Sennabris, Philoteria, Hippos [Susita], Ein Gofra, and Kefar Aqavya (Nun 1989:15; Gophen & Gal 1992:162; Rousseau & Arav 1995:23). With regard to the regional ruler controlling the Sea of Galilee, Dunkel notes that during the rule of the Ottoman Empire leases and taxes were paid to the Pasha in Damascus (1924). The most recent analysis of Herod the Great and the Herodian family is Richardson 1997.

3. Tax collectors, toll collectors, and brokers (e.g., John of Caesarea, War 2.287) are not organizationally differentiated in the ancient sources (for the Roman evidence in general, Youtie [1967] and Badian [1972]; for Palestine, Donahue [1971] and Michel [1972]). But with regard to the model of Galilean fishing, such persons intrude in all transactions. That there were at least two "layers" to the bureaucracy is indicated by reference to chief-collectors, viz. "tax and toll administrators" (architelônai; e.g., Zacchaeus, Luke 19:2). We see the contracting of taxes to "the urban elites and rulers" during the Hellenistic period in Josephus, Ant. 12.169, 175, 184. And the term kômogrammatoi (Ant . 16.203) may refer to the village "accountants" who oversaw leases and other taxes.

Adapting Rostovtzeff's model based on Egyptian and Syrian evidence, fishermen received capitalization along with fishing rights, and were therefore indebted to local brokers responsible for the harbors and for fishing leases. The location of Levi's toll office in Capernaum—an important fishing locale—probably identifies him as just such a contractor of royal fishing rights (Matt 9:9; Mark 2:13-14; Wuellner 1967:43-44; contra Theissen, who imagines a frontier toll booth, 1991:119nn). This location of a fishing toll-office next to the harbor is paralleled in the first-century inscription from Ephesus (G. H. R. Horsley 1989:18-19). Horsley also mentions an Imperial-era Latin document concerning a dedication to the goddess Hlundana made by fishing contractors (conductores piscatus; ILS 1 [1892; repr. 1962] 1462; 1989:106).

In a story about the bid by Demetrius (the Seleucid king) for the loyalty of Jonathan (the Hasmonean), both 1 Maccabees and Josephus quote a letter from Demetrius (c. 152 BCE) listing the following taxes he was willing to suspend (1 Macc 10:29-31; 11:34-36; Josephus, Ant. 13.49-51):

    a. salt tax
    b. crown tax
    c. grain tax: one-third of the produce
    d. tax on fruit and nut trees: one-half the produce
    e. poll tax
    f. tithe
    g. tribute
    h. imposts/duties 
Presumably, the remission of these taxes and tribute previously paid to the Seleucids would subsequently be paid to the Hasmonean rulers and then the Herodians. An important anecdote in Josephus that illuminates imperial tribute (under the Ptolemies), bidding for collection rights, and the like is told about a Judean from Egypt named Joseph:
    Now when the day came on which the collection rights of taxes on the cities were sold, and those that were the principal men of dignity in their several countries were to bid for them, the sum of the taxes together of Coele-Syria and Phoenicia, and Judea, with Samaria came to 8,000 talents. Hereupon Joseph [the Tobiad] accused the bidders of colluding to undervalue the taxes; and he promised that he would himself give twice as much for them. But for those who did not pay, he would send the king [Ptolemy] home their whole substance, for this right was sold together with the taxes. The king was pleased to hear that offer; and, because it augmented his revenues, he said he would confirm the sale of the taxes to him; but when he asked him this question whether he had any securities that would be bound for the payment of the money, he answered very pleasantly, "I will offer good and responsible persons, and ones which you shall have no reason to distrust." And when he asked him to name them, he replied, "I give you no other persons, O king, than yourself and your wife; and you shall be security for both parties." So Ptolemy laughed at the proposal, and granted him the collection of the taxes without any sureties (Ant. 12.175-78).
That taxes were often paid "in kind" rather than in money can be seen in several ancient documents. Referring to earlier days in Greece, Athenaeum quotes Philomnestus: "For the sycophant got his name from the fact that in those days the fines and taxes, from the proceeds of which they administered public expenditures, consisted of figs, wine, and oil, and they who exacted these tolls or made declaration of them were called, as it appears, 'sycophants' (sykophantas), being selected as the most trustworthy among the citizens" (Deipnosophists 3.74-75). And the same was true of Hasmonean-era Palestine: ". . . in the second year they shall pay the tribute at Sidon, consisting of one-fourth the produce sown . . ." (Josephus, Ant. 14.203). This is consistent with an Egyptian papyrus from the same period (Papyrus Tebtunis no. 5; Hunt and Edgar 1934:60-61; 118 BCE). Rabban Gamaliel (first century CE) is quoted as saying: "By four things does the empire exist: by its tolls, bathhouses, theatres, and crop taxes" (The Fathers according to Rabbi Nathan 28; Goldin 1955:116).

And this brings us to those collectors who controlled the roads and bridges. The imperial customs duties were based on crossing from one Roman tax district into another; and during the reign of Tiberius, the Empire had ten districts. The duty-rates were 2%, 2.5%, or 5%, depending upon the goods (Lewis and Reinhold 1990:64-65); and this rate of 2% (more or less) is exemplified by one of the technical terms for customs collectors: pentêkostologos ("collector of the one-fiftieth"; Athenaeus, Deipnosophists 2.49; 11.481). The toll-fees for roads varied considerably; they also charged for animals (at different rates for camels and donkeys) and wagons. I have not yet found any documentation for Galilean road-tolls, but presumably Herod Antipas collected from the local traffic on roads and bridges within Galilee. In a toll-list from Coptus, Egypt (90 CE), toll-rates do appear, providing some idea of first-century rates of toll in a Roman province. They cover different classifications of people based on gender, status, and profession (e.g., 5 drachmas for a sailor, 20 drachmas for a sailor's woman); and different animals and conveyances (e.g., 1 obol for a camel, 4 drachmas for a covered wagon; Orientis Graeci Inscriptiones Selectae no. 674; Lewis and Reinhold 1990:66-67). The import duty for bringing processed fish into Palmyra in 137 CE was 10 denarii per camel load (Corpus Inscriptionum Selectae II.3, 1 [1926] 3913; Matthews 1984:174-80).

The abusiveness of tax collectors is a well-attested phenomenon from the Roman era, as suggested in the Zacchaeus story (Luke 19:2-8) and the Mishnah (m. B.K.; m. Ned. 3.4; m. Toh. 7.6; Jeremias 1969:303-12). Philo's characterization of the common first-century attitude toward them is apt:
    . . . for cities usually furnish them [taxes] under compulsion, and with great reluctance and lamentation, looking upon the collectors of the taxes as common enemies and destroyers, and making various excuses at different times, and neglecting all laws and regulations, and with all this obfuscation and evasion do they contribute the taxes and payments which are levied upon them (Special Laws 1.143).
Philo also tells a harrowing story of a tribute collector who harassed those in arrears and their families. The mistreatment even extended to public torture in the marketplace (Special Laws 3.159-63). From Arsinoe, Egypt (in 193 CE), we have an official complaint lodged with the local Roman centurion by a farmer and his brother against two collectors of the grain-tax and their scribe who physically assaulted the complainants' mother. The attack was precipitated because they had only paid nine out of the ten arbate that were due (Berlin Griechische Urkunden no. 515; trans. Hunt and Edgar 1934:277).

The records also indicate that there were (at least in some ancient locations) fishing police (epilimnês epistatês; or what we might call anachronistically "game wardens"), who made sure no one was fishing illegally (viz. without a fishing contract) or selling to unauthorized middlemen (Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 2 [1925] 747; an epitaph from Lake Egridir in Pisidia; G. H. R. Horsley 1989:105).

4. Fishermen could form "cooperatives" (koinônoi) in order to bid for fishing contracts or leases; this is the conclusion of Wuellner (1967:23-25), based on Rostovtzeff's model for Egypt and Syria (1941:297, 1177-79). One of the most interesting observations the gospels make about the Yonah and Zebedee families is Luke's comment that they were a small-scale collective/cooperative:
    . . . they signaled to their partners [metachoi] in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats . . . . For he [Simon] was astonished, and all that were with him, at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so too were James and John, Zebedee's sons, who were cooperative-members [koinônoi] with Simon (Luke 5:7, 9-10a).
Since it appears only in the Gospel of Luke, this description may be due to the evangelist's own experiences or interests rather than those of these fishermen. Yet evidence for fishing guilds in Palestine does exist for a slightly later period (j. Pes. 4.30d; j. M.K. 2.81b; b. M.K. 13b; cited in Heichelheim 1959:230n). An ancient Egyptian fishing lease from the Roman era is analyzed by Parássoglou (1987). An Egyptian papyrus from 46 CE identifies a fishing collective of thirteen fishermen and their scribe who all took an oath by the Roman emperor (Tiberius) concerning not catching sacred fish (Pubblicazioni della Societa italiana 901.7-16; Hunt and Edgar 1934:373-75). And a fishing cooperative in Asia Minor left an impressive stele dedicating the toll-house for which the cooperative paid in 54-59 CE (Die Inschriften von Ephesos Ia [1979] 20; 54-59 CE; G. H. R. Horsley 1989:18-19). This cooperative (or guild?) in Ephesus included both fishermen and fish-sellers, so that room must be made in the model for cooperation between Galilean fishing families and fish-sellers. The sureties for tax-collectors/brokers are mentioned in the Josephus quote above; but sureties given to these brokers are also mentioned in the Palmyrene "Edict on Sureties" (Matthews 1984).

Concerning the Yonah—Zebedee cooperative, G. H. R. Horsley concludes that: "the families of Peter and Andrew, and of James and John, must have been of at least moderate means, since each owned a boat and other fishing equipment; furthermore, these families were able to release two sons for a three-year period (Mark 1.16-20)" (1989:110-11). But the evidence does not require any of this reconstruction. First, given the evidence of the Hellenistic and Roman-era fishing industries, it is at least possible that the boats were actually owned by the brokers and used by the cooperative. Secondly, "moderate means" is a useless and misleading category in a peasant society without a mercantile "middle class." Even if the families owned boats, this would say no more about them than it would about a peasant farmer who owned a yoke of oxen or a flock of sheep. Thirdly, how long the Twelve were "on the road" with Jesus is manifestly unclear in the gospels. The Synoptic story line encompasses a period of one year requiring no more than six months of activity, excluding the rainy season from October to March.

I also disagree with Wuellner's analysis and conclusions about the social status of Galilean fishers. He perceives two "classes" of fishermen: those who did the actual work, and those who owned the boats and made the deals with the brokers (1967:63). He refers to members of this latter group as the "professional middle class fish catcher and fish trader" (24), prosperous from their marketplace deals (45). While he rightly points out that there are "hired laborers," I see no reason to conclude that they were in a different "social class" than the fishing families who owned boats. We see both working alongside each other in the gospels (e.g., Mark 1:20). I conclude that both of these groups were "peasants" in the broad sense, since they both live from their work in the boats. The hired laborers are in a more precarious position because their work was likely seasonal; but that does not make the members of the fishing cooperative "middle class" entrepreneurs (45-63)! Jeremias was also fond of the term "middle class" for anyone above a beggar, but the term is simply anachronistic. The ancient Egyptian observation that the fisher was "more miserable than any (other) profession" was based on the combination of physical hazards (in Egypt, storms and crocodiles) in combination with fulfilling the fishing lease ("The Satire on the Trades"; trans. Wilson 1969:433-43; also Plautus, Rudens 290-305 for fishers as low status).

Fishing techniques in the Hellenistic era were of four basic types: a) angling—a rod with hooks on flaxen line; b) casting with flaxen nets; c) fish traps; and d) pronged tridents (Wuellner 1967:17-19; Nun 1989, 1993). While angling is mentioned in the gospels (Matt 17:27), the most common mode of fishing in Galilee seems to have been with nets. Besides the generic word for "nets" (dictua; Mark 1:18 19), two different types are mentioned in the New Testament: the casting net (amphiblêstron ), used either from a boat or along the shoreline (Matt 4:18); and the much larger dragnet (sagênê), used from a boat (Matt 13:47). Greek authors, such as Oppian and Aelian, mention as many as ten different types of nets, but we are no longer able to distinguish between all of them. Nets required a great deal of attention: fishers and their hired labor ers not only made the nets, but after each outing the nets had to be mended, washed, dried and folded (Mark 1:19).

5. If there were not a sufficient number of family members in the cooperative, the fishermen had to hire laborers to help with all the responsibilities: manning the oars and sails, mending nets, sorting fish, etc. These laborers represent the bottom of the social scale in the fishing sub-system. In Mark 1:19-20 we find Zebedee as a net fisher who not only has two working sons in the business, but hired laborers as well. This number corresponds to the crew needed for the larger boats. Both farming and fishing made use of these laborers, which might be day-laborers (e.g., Matt 20:1-16) or seasonal workers (e.g., John 4:36; Jas 5:4). That hired laborers were a necessary and important part of the Galilean economy seems inescapable if the gospels are any indication at all (e.g., Matt 9:37-38; 10:10; 20:1-16; John 4:36; 10:12-13).

6. For their work, the fishermen needed resources from farmers and artisans, including (but not limited to): flax for nets, cut stone for anchors, wood for boat building and repairs, and baskets for fish. Both the gospels and Josephus speak of boats on the Sea of Galilee for fishing and transportation. In 1986 an ancient fishing boat was discovered in the mud along the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee, just north of Migdal (ancient Magdala/Tarichaeae) (Raban 1988; Wachsman 1988; 1995; Wachsman, et al. 1990). Its dimensions were: 26.5 feet long, 7.5 feet wide, and 4.5 feet deep; a variety of woods were used in its construction, but it is primarily constructed of cedar and oak. Archaeologists have concluded that the boat was built between 40 BCE and 70 CE, based upon the type of construction, carbon-14 test ing, and adjacent pottery. This means that it was the type possibly used by the Yonah—Zebedee cooperative (including their sons: Peter, Andrew, James, and John). This boat originally had a sail, and places for four oarsmen and a tillerman. Boats of this size could accommodate a load in excess of one ton, which means the five crew members and their catch or cargo, or the crew and about ten passengers (Mark 6:45).

7. The fishing trade also entailed the processing of fish. During the Hellenistic era processed fish had become a food staple throughout the Mediterranean, in city and village alike. The result was the development of trade distinctions between those who caught fish, those who processed fish, and those who marketed fish. But as the Ephesus stele demonstrates, fishers and fish-sellers might work cooperatively. The distribution of the catch was also controlled by government approved wholesalers. While fish processors are not explicitly referred to in the gospels, processed fish is mentioned (John 6:9 11; also Tob 2:2).

Fish were processed for preservation and transportation as cured and pickled or dried and salted (e.g., m. Ned. 6.4); and wine could be mixed in with fish brine (m. Ter. 11.1). The Bible and the Mishnah also speak of eating fish in a variety of ways: broiled or roasted (Luke 24:42; John 21:9; Tob 6:5), minced (m. Abod. Zar. 2.6), cooked with leeks (m. M. Sh. 2.1), with an egg (m. Betz. 2.1), or in milk (m. Hull. 8.1). Fish oil could also be used as fuel for lamps (m. Shab. 2.2) and as a medicine. The writer Athenaeus (c. 200 CE) waxes eloquent on the variations and the uses of processed fish (Deipnosophists 3.116a-121d). He also mentions "processed-fish-dealers." In the work Geoponica (a Byzantine compilation of earlier sources) we find the following recipes:
    Garum, also called liquamen, is made in this way. The entrails of fish are placed in a vat and salted. Also used are whole small fish, especially smelts, or tiny mullets, or small sprats, or anchovies, or whatever small fish are available. Salt the whole mixture and place it in the sun. After it has aged in the heat, the garum is extracted in the following manner. A long, thickly woven basket is placed into the vat full of the above-mentioned fish. The garum enters the basket, and the so-called liquamen is thus strained through the basket and retrieved. The remaining sediment is allec.

    The Bithynians make garum in the following manner. They use sprats, large or small, which are the best to use if available. If sprats are not available, they use anchovies, or lizard fish or mackerel, or even old allec, or a mixture of all of these. They put this in a trough which is usually used for kneading dough. They add two Italian sextarii of salt to each modius of fish and stir well so that the fish and salt are thoroughly mixed. They let the mixture sit for one night and then transfer it to a clay vat which is placed uncovered in the sun for two or three months, stirring it occasionally with sticks. Then they bottle, seal, and store it. Some people also pour two sextarii of old wine into each sextarius of fish (Geoponica 20.46.1-5; quoted in Shelton 1988:85-86).
Pliny the Elder identifies Judeans with a particular variety of processed fish: castimoniarum (Natural History 31.95; cited in Curtis 1991:145). The town of Tarichaeae ("Processed-Fishville"; also known as Magdala) was just a few miles south of Capernaum and was the site of a major fish-processing installation (as attested by Strabo, Geography 16.2.45). It is possible that the major Galilean ports (at least on the western shore?) may have quickly shipped or carted a portion of their daily catches to Tarichaeae for processing at this installation. Whle this processing installation has never been excavated, the harbor at Tarichaeae has been discovered, with a limestone and basalt quay 90m long, with a second breakwater 70m long (Raban 1993:965).

During the Roman period, vendors sold numerous varieties of processed fish, which differed in terms of the type of fish, the parts of the fish, the process, and the recipe. The four basic types of fish-sauce were: garum, liquamen, muria, and allex; but Corcoran's study has shown that, depending upon the region and period, these could be used as synonyms (1963). The terms salsamentum and salugo refer to the saline solution used for pickling. It is clear from literary references and amphorae that there were also multiple grades of these products, the best being the garum sociorum produced in Spain (Pliny, Natural History 31.94). Recipes and comments from the ancients on fishsauces appear in Athenaeus, The Deipnosophists. Analyses of fish-processing in the Roman world have been carried out by Cutting (1956), Corcoran (1957; 1963), Martin-Kilcher (1990), and Curtis (1991). Recently a Roman-era fish-processing installation has been excavated in France (Martin-Kilcher 1990), and another in north Africa. This will presumably shed more light on the processing network involved in such a complex enterprise.

8. The materials for fish-processing had to be supplied by (possibly government agents), merchants, farmers, and artisans, including especially: salt, wine, and amphorae, and possibly olive oil (Heltzer and Eitam [1987]) . Very little has been published on salt in the Roman East, but for salt production in antiquity, consult Potts (1994 ) and the symposium papers in de Brisay & Evans (1975). The two major possibilities for industrial amounts of salt would come from the Dead Sea to the south or Palmyra to the northeast.

9. The preserved fish and fish sauces could be distributed among merchants throughout Galilee and the rest of Palestine, as well as around the Mediterranean. But it needed to be hauled by carters and shippers. The distributors' route would most likely follow the Via Maris from Bethsaida in the north, to Tarichaeae on the western shore, through Cana, to Ptolemais/Akko, the port city on the Mediterranean (Wuellner 1967:32-33). From the amphorae found in shipwrecks off the Mediterranean coast of Israel, examples of Zemer Form 39 (a specific size and shape) have been identified by archaeologists as belonging to the first century, and bear traces of fishsauces (Curtis 1991:144). Describing a ship built for Heiron of Syracuse, Athenaeus says: "On board were loaded ninety thousand bushels of grain, ten thousand jars (keramia) of Sicilian salt-fish (tarichôn ), six hundred tons of wool, and other freight amounting to six hundred tons" (Deipnosophists 5.209).

IV. The Jesus Tradition and Fishing

My thesis concerning how the Jesus tradition interfaced with Galilean fishing is this: without minimizing farming, herding, and other aspects of Galilean village life, the aphorisms, parables and metaphors, anecdotes, and social network of Jesus are all heavily influenced by the Sea of Galilee and its fish, fishing, fishermen, and fishing-villages. A catalog of the gospel traditions in this regard illustrates the point.

A. Synoptic Tradition

  1. Locations Where Jesus Lives or Visits (Fishing Villages and Towns) 
    • Bethsaida (Mark 6:45; 8:22; Luke 9:10)
    • Capernaum (Mark 1:21; 2:1; 9:33; Matt 4:13; 8:5; 11:23; 17:24; Luke 4:23, 31; 7:1; 10:15)
    • Gennesaret (Mark 6:53, par.)
    • Magdala/Magadan/Tarichaeae (Matt 15:39)
    • Gerasa (Mark 5:1, par.)
    • Tyre and Sidon (Mark 7:24, 31, par.)
  2. Social Network Developed from Fishing Villages and Towns 
    • Peter/Simon, a fisher from Capernaum (Mark 1:16-20, par.)
    • mother-in-law of Peter, from Capernaum (Mark 1:29-31, par.)
    • Andrew, a fisher at Capernaum (Mark 1:16-20, par.)
    • James, a fisher at Capernaum (Mark 1:16-20, par.)
    • John, a fisher at Capernaum (Mark 1:16-20, par.)
    • mother of James and John [from Capernaum] (Matt 20:20-23)
    • Levi, a tax-collector (broker?) at Capernaum (Mark 2:14, par.)
    • Mary, from Magdala/Tarichaeae (Luke 8:2, par.)
    • villagers of Capernaum (Mark 1:21-28, par.)
    • crowds from Tyre and Sidon (Mark 3:8, par.)
    • Gerasene demoniac (Mark 5:1-20, par.)
  3. Aphorisms and Metaphors 
    • Good Gifts [bread & fish] (Matt 7:9-11//Luke 11:11-13)
    • Millstone and the Sea (Mark 9:42//Matt 18:6//Luke 17:2//1 Clem 46:8b)
    • Salted with Fire (?) (Mark 9:49-50)
  4. Parables 
    • The Net (Matt 13:47-48)
  5. Narratives 
    • Call of Peter, Andrew, James, and John (Mark 1:16-20//Matt 4:18-22//Luke 5:1-11)
    • Calming of the Storm (Mark 4:35-41//Matt 8:23-27//Luke 8:22-25)
    • Feeding of the 5000+ [five loaves, two fish] (Mark 6:35-44//Matt//Luke 9:10-17)
    • Walking on the Sea (Mark 6:45-52//Matt 14:22-33)
    • Feeding of the 4000+ [five loaves, two fish] (Matt 15:32-39)
    • Appearance of Resurrected Jesus [eats broiled fish] (Luke 24:36-42)
    • Jesus and boats [narrative transitions] (Mark 3:9; 4:1, 5:2, 18, 21; 6:32; 8:10, 13; and par.)
  6. Dialogues/Chreia 
    • The Rich [Camel Through a Needle's Eye] (Mark 10:35//Matt 19:23-30//Luke 18:24-30)
    • Cursing the Fig-Tree [Mt. Cast into the Sea] (Mark 11:20-25//Matt 21:20-22)
    • Mustard Seed Faith [Tree Cast into the Sea] (Luke 17:5-6)
    • Request for Sign [Jonah & the Fish] (Matt 12:38-40)
    • Half-Shekel Tax [taken from fish's mouth] (Matt 17:24-27)

B. Johannine Tradition

  1. Locations Where Jesus Lives or Visits (Fishing Villages and Towns)
    • Bethsaida (1:44; 12:21)
    • Capernaum (2:12; 4:46; 6:17, 24, 59)
  2. Social Network Developed from Fishing Villages and Towns 
    • Peter/Simon/Cephas, from Bethsaida (1:44)
    • Andrew, from Bethsaida (1:44)
    • Philip, from Bethsaida (1:44)
    • Mary, from the fishing village of Magdala/Tarichea (19:25)
  3. Narratives 
    • Feeding the 5000 [five loaves, two fish] (6:1-14)
    • Walking on the Sea (6:16-21)
    • Wondrous Catch of Fish (21:1-14)

C. Extra-Canonical Tradition

  1. Locations Where Jesus Visits or Lives (Fishing Villages and Towns) 
    • Capernaum (Gos. Eb. 1)
  2. Social Network from Fishing Villages and Towns 
    • Beside the Sea of Tiberias 
      • Peter/Simon (Gos. Eb. 2)
      • Andrew (Gos. Eb. 2)
      • James (Gos. Eb. 2)
      • John (Gos. Eb. 2)
      • Thaddeus (Gos. Eb. 2)
      • Simon the Zealot (Gos. Eb. 2)
      • Judas Iscariot (Gos. Eb. 2)
      • Matthew (Gos. Eb. 2)
    • Magdala/Tarichea 
      • Mary (Gos. Pet. 12 [50])
  3. Aphorisms and Metaphors 
    • Millstone and the Sea (Clem 46:8b)
    • Knowing Oneself [sea/fish] (Gos. Thom. 3//POxy 654 3:2//Dial. Sav. 30)
  4. Parables 
    • The Great Fish (Gos. Thom. 8)

V. Conclusions

1. Literary sources, inscriptions and stelae, and archaeological evidence confirm that fishing was an important and organized part of the economy throughout the Roman Empire. Despite the fact that our evidence for Galilee is fragmentary, the model advanced here is at least a beginning for understanding the complex web of participants and arrangements involved in such a complex enterprise.

2. The fishers could hardly be classed as "entrepreneurs" in such a highly regulated, taxed, and hierarchical political-economy. While the boat owners/fishers may or may not have also been involved in fish processing, this would not have made them wealthy, and certainly not "middle class," as many authors have contended, since the whole conceptualization of a middle-class is anachronistic relative to Roman Palestine. The "surplus" went to the brokers and the ruling elite. The importance of fish is further highlighted by the references in the gospels to people who eat fish and carry fish with them. That some of these references appear as metaphors or in non-historical stories does not diminish their importance as believable scenarios in a Galilean context.

3. The hostility of the general population in both Judean and early Christian sources against the telônai may have stemmed originally from the conflict in the economy: the ancient sources stereotype them as inequitable and liable to unjust treatment of the population.

4. With regard to the Jesus tradition, it seems to me that the role of Galilean fishing has been severely underrated for its impact on Jesus' network, locations of operation, aphorisms, parables, and "acts of power." It does not seem an overstatement to say that Jesus' proclamation of God's Reign had its primary audience in Galilean fishing-villages and towns. This at least partially accounts for his avoidance of Galilean cities (notably Tiberias and Sepphoris) and the snide view of his ministry by Jerusalemite elites. It may also account for the tradition of Jesus drawing crowds from the fishing regions of Tyre and Sidon. Because Jesus made his residence in the fishing village of Capernaum during his ministry and traveled up, down, and across the Sea of Galilee, the lives of these real fishing families became the fabric from which he wove many of his metaphors and told his stories. Moreover, it was his sitting in a boat, crossing the Sea, and healing and exorcising in fishing-villages which were the stories vividly told in the earliest Jesus-groups. This hardly seems tangential to our modern attempts at recapturing the dynamics of Jesus' career in his own setting.


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APPENDIX 1: Tarrifs at Coptus, Egypt (OGIS 674; 90 CE)

By order of Mettius Rufus[?], prefect of Egypt. Lucius Antistius Asiaticus, prefect of Mt. B???? Berenice, has had engraved on this stone the sums which must be exacted in accordance with the regulations by the tax farmers of the toll fees subject to the jurisdiction of the customs controller in Coptus. For a captain in the Red Sea trade 8 drachmas For . . . 6 drachmas For a lookout officer 10 drachmas For a guard 10 drachmas For a sailor 5 drachmas For a shipwright's helper 5 drachmas For an artisan 8 drachmas For courtesans 108 drachmas For sailor'[?] women 20 drachmas For soldier's women 20 drachmas ---- For a permit for a camel 1 obol For seal on permit 2 obols For each permit for a man outbound up country 1 drachma For [permits for] all women, at the rate of 4 drachmas For a donkey 2 obols For a covered wagon 4 drachmas For a mast 20 drachmas For a yardarm 4 drachmas For a funeral (going and coming) 1 drachmas, 4 obols The ninth year of the Emperor Caesar Domitian Augustus Germanicus, Pachon 15. 
(OGIS 674 [=IGRR, vol. 1, no. 1183] Lewis and Reinhold 1990:66-67) 

APPENDIX 2: The Tax Decree of Palmyra (CIS II.3, 1 [1926] 3913; 137 CE)

In the year 448 [137 CE], on the 18th of the month Xandikos. Decree of the Council. In the presidency of Bonnes, son of Bonnes, son of Hairanos, the secretary of the council and people being Alexandros, son of Alexandros, son of Philopator, in the magistracies of Malichos, son of Olaies, and Zebeidas, son of Nesa, at a statutory meeting of the council, it was decreed as follows:
Since in former times most of the dues were not set down in the tax law but were exacted by convention, it being written into the contract that the tax collector should make his exactions in accordance with the law and custom, and it frequently happened that disputes arose on this matter between the merchants and the tax collectors, it is resolved that the magistrates in office and the dekaprotoi should determine the dues not set down in the law and write them into the next contract, and assign to each class of goods the tax laid down by custom; and that when they have been confirmed by the contractor they should be written down together with the first law on the stone column opposite the temple called Rabaseire; and that the magistrates who are in office at any time and the dekaprotoi and syndics should take care to see that the contractor does not exact any excess charge.
For one wagon-load of any merchandise, the tax has been assessed at the rate of four camel-loads.


1 From those importing slaves into Palmyra or the borders of Palmyra, he will exact for each person 22 den.
4 From one selling slaves in the city [not?] for export, for each person 12 den.
6 From one selling veteran slaves 10 den.
And if the purchaser exports the slaves, he will exact for each person 12 den.
9 The said tax collector will exact for each camel load of dried produce imported [3] den.
For each camel load exported 3 den.
14 For each donkey load imported [2?] den.
Exported [2?] den.
16 For purple dyed fleece, for each skin imported, he will exact 8 asses
Exported 8 asses
19 For a camel load of unguent imported in alabaster vessels he will exact 25 den.
And for each camel load exported 13 den.
23 For a camel load of unguent imported in goat skins, he will exact 13 den.
Exported [?7] den.
26 For a donkey load of unguent imported in alabaster vessels, he will exact 13 den.
Exported 7 den.
29 For a donkey load of unguent imported in goat skins, he will exact 7 den.
Exported, he will exact 4 den.
32 For a load of olive oil imported by camel in four goatskins, he will exact 13 den.
Exported 1[3] den.
36 For a load of olive oil imported by camel in two goatskins, he will exact [?7] den.
Exported [?7] den.
40 For a load of olive oil imported by donkey, he will exact 7 den.
Exported [7] den.
43 For a load of animal fat imported by camel in four goatskins, he will exact 13 den.
Exported 13 den.
46 For a load of animal fat imported by camel in two goatskins, he will exact 7 den.
Exported 7 den.
49 For a load of animal fat imported by donkey, he will exact ?7 den.
Exported 7 den.
52 For a load of salt fish imported by camel, he will exact 10 den.
Exported he will exact [. . . ]

[. . . Fragments mention, among other items: a monthly tax of 2 asses on the sale of unguent (P. 46-7). The Greek fragments at lines 72-4 mention a monthly tax on the sale of olive oil.]

75 The said tax collector will exact from prostitutes who receive one den. or more, from each womanly 1 den.
78 From those who receive eight asses [he will exact] 8 asses
79 From those who receive six asses, from each woman 6 asses
80 The said tax collector will exact from workshops, [ . . . ] general stores, leather[workers' shops . . . ] according to custom, from each workshop per month 1 den.
84 From those importing or selling skins, for each skin 2 asses
86 Similarly, sellers of clothing who pursue their trade moving about the city shall pay to the tax-collector the appropriate tax
88 For the use of the two water sources each year 800 den.
89 The said tax collector will exact for each load of wheat, wine, fodder and similar produce, for each camel load, for each trip 1 den.
92 For a camel brought in unloaded, he will exact 1 den., according to the exaction laid down by Cilix, freedman of Caesar.

The Old Tariff [mid-1st cent. CE?]

Tax law of Tadmor and the water sources and of the salt which is in the city and its borders according to the agreement made in the presence of Marinus the governor.

Both Greek (116-20) and Palmyrene (P. 69-73) texts then refer to the taxing of salt found at Palmyra or in its territory at one as per modius of sixteen sextarii with a penal rate of two sestertiu per modius for anyone failing to make a declaration (P. 69-73), and the Greek text continues with a section for which there is no Palmyrene equivalent. This presumably reflects an incompatibility between Graeco-Roman and Palmyrene legal conventions in the area in question.

Edict on Sureties
121 From whomsoever the tax collector [ . . . ] receives sureties [ . . . ] let them surrender [. . .] let the tax collector receive a satisfactory amount, as to this, let the sum deposited with the tax collector be double.
127 Concerning any complaint made of anyone by the tax collector or any complaint made of him by someone else, let the arbitration of this matter rest with the appointed official at Palmyra.
131 Let it be within the powers of the tax collector to take sureties for undischarged debts through his own agency or through [his assistants]; and if these sureties are not redeemed in [. .] days, let the tax-collector be empowered to sell
136 [. . . ? in a] public [place?], without fraud or malice. [If any surety?] is sold [for more?] than was required to be paid, let the tax collector be empowered to act as [is permitted by?] the law.

[Lines 150-237 (the end) of the Greek version (P. 74-151) constitute a final section of the 'old law', in which the edict of Mucianus refers back to other earlier pronouncements (see lines 182, 196 71. Throughout this section Mucianus speaks in the first person, as at line 188 of the Greek text, 76, 125, 131 of the Palmyrene. The pronouncement, as preserved in the Palmyrene text (80-101) went on to cover the import of slaves into Palmyra and its borders and their export (P. 80-2; 22 denarii per slave, as at the beginning of the new law, cf. 1 ff.), the import, export and sale of other categories of slave (P. 83-8), the taxation of Italian wool (94-7; cf. the Greek text, 167), and of unguent carried in goatskins. This last was to be done ' [according to the la]w ', apparently because an ' error in writing ' had been committed by the tax collector (P. 98-101). The rate was now fixed at 13 denarii (cf. Greek version, 177-80).

The following section is well preserved, both in Greek and Palmyrene versions. The document still represents the pronouncement of the legatus pro praetore of Syria.

181 The tax on animals for slaughter should be reckoned in denarii, as Germanicus Caesar also made clear in his letter to Statilius, to the effect that taxes should be reckoned in Italian assess. Any tax of less than a denarius the tax collector will exact according to custom in small coin. In the case of animals rejected on account of natural death the tax is not due.
187 As for provisions, I decree that a tax of one denarius should be exacted according to the law for each load imported from outside the borders of Palmyra or exported there; but those who convey provisions to the villages or from them should be exempt, according
191 to the concession made to them. As to pine cones and similar produce carried for marketing, it is determined that the tax should be reckoned as for dried produce, as is also the practice in the other cities.
194 As for camels, if they are brought in from outside the borders either loaded or unloaded, one denarius is due for each camel according to the law, as was confirmed also by the excellent Corbulo in his letter to Barbarus.

[The next 35 lines (198-232) of the Greek inscription are illegible or extremely fragmentary The Palmyrene version corresponding to the first part of this Panel section can be translated as follows:]

P. 122 As for camel skins, they have been deleted from the tariff, because no tax is exacted. As for grasses and [ . . . ], it is decided that they are liable for tax, because they can be sold for profit.
P. 125 As for the tax on slave girls, I have decided as the law declares: The tax collector will exact from slave girls who take one denarius or more a tax of one denarius for each woman; and if she receives less, he will exact whatever sum she receives.
P. 128 As for bronze images, that is, statues, it is decreed that the tax be exacted as for bronze, one image to be taxed one half its value by weight, and two images the value by weight of one.
P. 130 As for salt, it seems right to me that it should be sold in the public place where the people assemble, and any Palmyrene who buys it for his own use will pay one Italian as for each modius, as is written in the law. The tax on salt which is found at Palmyra must be exacted in asses, as in [that law], and the salt put on sale to the Palmyrenes, according to custom.

[The rest of the Palmyrene text is fragmentary, but references can be detected to the tax on purple (P 137) and to skins (P. 142-3). A tax is levied on flocks of sheep brought into Palmyrene territory, but not on those brought into the city in order to be sheared there (P. 145-7). The Greek text concludes :]

233 It has been agreed that payment for grazing rights is not to be exacted [in addition to the normal?] taxes; but for animals brought into Palmyrene territory for the purpose of grazing, the payment is due. The tax collector may have the animals branded, if he so wishes.

(Matthews 1984:174-80)

APPENDIX 3: Athenaeus on Processed Fish
(The Deipnosophists; c. 200 CE)

After this lengthy discussion it was decided at last to dine, and when the hors-d'oeuvre of salt-fish (horaia) had been passed round Leonides said: "Euthydemus of Athens, my friends, remarks in his work on Salt Meats that Hesiod has this to say about salted or pickled food: 'First in choice is the sturgeon with double-edged mouth, the fish which the rough-clad fisherfolk call the "jaw." The Bosporos, rich in salt-fish (tarichopleôs ), delights in it, and the people there cut the belly pieces into squares and make it into a pickle (tarichia). Not inglorious in the eye of mortals, I ween, is the tribe of sharp-snouted pike, which jagged lumps of salt adorn either whole or sliced. Again, of tunnies, pickled in the right season, Byzantium is mother, as well as of deep-sea mackerel and well-fed swordfish, while Parium town is the glorious nurse of the tuna. And over the Ionian wave a Bruttian or a Campanian will bring as freight from Cadiz or holy Tarentum huge tunny hearts, which are packed tightly in jars and await the beginning of dinner.' . . .

. . . "Nevertheless, since we are on the subject of salt-fish (tarichôn ), I will proceed to tell what I know about it, with full details of the trade, including also a proverb which Clearchus of Soli thought worth quoting: 'Stale salt-fish (tarichos) likes marjoram.' Now Diocles of Carystus, in his work entitled Hygiene, says that young tunny is the best among all lean varieties of salt- fish (tarichos), but of all fat fish the grown tunny is the best. But Hicesius records that neither young tunnies nor those called horaia are easy to digest, and further, that the flesh of young tunny resembles 'the cube' (tois kybiois) and hence is greatly different from all the other tunny called horaia. In like manner he says there is a great difference in the horaia of Byzantium and those caught in other places, and this is true not of tunny alone, but of all other fishes taken in Byzantium."
To these remarks the Ephesian Daphnus added the following: "Archestratus, who made a voyage round the world to satisfy his stomach and appetites even lower, says: 'Eat, dear Moschus, a slice of Sicilian tunny, cut at the time when it should be salted in jars (en bikoisi taricheuesthai). But the sea-perch, a relish from Pontus, I would consign to the lowest regions, as well as all who praise it. For few there be among mortals who know that it is a poor insipid morsel. Take, however, a mackerel three days out of the water, before it enters the pickle and while it is still new in the jar and only half-cured (hêmitarichon). And if thou go to the sacred city of glorious Byzantium, eat again, I pray you, a slice of horaion; for it is good and luscious.' . . .
"Alexis mentions a 'raw salt fish' (ômotarichon), also, in The Man with a Cataract, and the same poet in The Lovelorn Lass introduces a cook who has this to say about making salt fish (tarichôn ): 'Nevertheless, I mean to sit down here and reckon the cost of my menu, to plan what I must get first, and how I must season each dish. First comes this piece of horaion; that cost a penny. I must wash it well. Then I will sprinkle seasoning in a casserole, place the slice in it, pour over it some white wine, stir it in oil and stew it until it is as soft as marrow, covering it generously with a garnish of silphium.'. . .
" Now the Athenians set such store by salt fish (tarichos) that they actually enrolled the sons of Chaerephilus, the salt dealer (tarichopolos ), as citizens, according to the following verses of Alexis, in Epdaurus: '(You made) the sons of Chaerephilus citizens of Athens because he introduced salt fish (tarichos). Seeing them on horseback, Timocles said they were a pair of mackerel among the satyrs.' The orator Hypereides also mentions them, and the salt dealer (tarichopolos) Euthynas is mentioned by Antiphanes in The Hairdresser thus: 'Go to the dealer in salt fish (temachopolos ), the one from whom it is my habit to buy when I am in luck. It is Euthynus, . . . telling off the cost of some choice morsel. Bid him cut it in a slice for me.' Pheidippus, too, for he also was a salt dealer (tarichopolos), is mentioned by Alexis in The Scarf and in The Coffers: 'Another man there is, a foreigner Pheidippus, leader of the salt fish battalion (tarichêgos ).'"
. . . For when foods are served after an interval of drinking, they counteract the beneficial effects of wine on the stomach and become the cause of gnawing pangs. Some even think that these are unwholesome-I mean the different kinds of green vegetables and salt fish(tarichôn)-possessing, as they do, a pungent quality, and that the starchy and binding foods are more suitable. They are not aware that many foods which produce loose excretions cause a wholesome reaction on those of opposite nature; among these are the so called siser ("skirret"), mentioned by Epicharmus in The Rustic and in Earth and Sea, and by Diocles in Book i. of his Hygiene; also asparagus, the white beet (for the red hinders bowel action); conchs, razor fish, sea mussels, cockles, scallops, salt fish (tarichos) in perfect condition and not tainted, and different sorts of juicy meated fish. It also is well to have an hors-d'oeuvre of herbs and beets, or again of salt fish (tarichos ), to provoke an appetite for what is to come, and to obviate the unequal effects of the heavier foods. . .
"Dipilus of Siphnos says that salt-fish (tarichos), whether from sea or lake or river, has little nourishment or juice; it is dry, easily digested, and provocative of appetite. The best of the lean varieties are cubes, horaia, and the like; of the fat, the tunny steaks and young tunny. When aged they are superior, being more pungent, particularly the Byzantian sorts. The tunny steak, he says, is taken from medium-sized young tunny, the smaller size resembling the cube tunny, from which class also comes the horaion. The Sardinian tunny is as large as the tuna. The Spanish mackerel is not heavy, but readily leaves the stomach. The tuna is rather purgative and pungent and has poorer flavour, but is filling. Better are the Amynclanian and the Spanish sort called Saxitanian, which are lighter and sweeter. Now Strabo, in the third book of his Geography, says that Sexitania, from which this salt-fish (tarichos) gets its name, is near the Isles of Heracles, opposite New Carthage; and that there is another town called Scombroaria from the scomber caught there; from them the best fish-pickle (garos) is prepared. Then there are the so-called heart-of-oak tunny, which Epicharmus mentions thus in Odysseus the Runaway: 'Useful was the slice of heart-of-oak tunny.' Heart-of-oak is a variety of the largest-sized tunny, as Pamphilus declares in the Onomasticon, and the cuts taken from it are more oily.
"Raw pickle (ômotarichon), Diphilus continues, is by some called ketema, and is heavy and sticky, besides being hard to digest. The river crow-fish from the Nile, which some called 'crescent,' but which among the Alexandrians is known by the special name of 'half-salt,' is rather fatty, quite well-flavoured, meaty, filling, easily digested and assimilated, and in every way superior to the mullet. But the spawn of fresh and salt-fish (tarichos) alike is hard to digest and dispose of, especially that of the fatter and larger fishes. For being harder, they remain unseparated. They become wholesome, however, when first dipped in salt and then broiled. All salt-fish (tarichos) should be washed until the water becomes odourless and sweet. Salt-fish (tarichos) cooked in sea water is sweeter, and tastes better when hot."

(The Deipnosophists 3.116a-121d; trans. Gulick) 

APPENDIX 4: Egyptian Fishing Lease
(P.Oxy. 3269; 3rd cent. CE)

. . . catch of fish [during the] inundation of the current first year, from the fish traps(?) to the (sluice-) gates near Pela, called the gates of Tanyris, subject to your also fishing the pool in accordance with your quarter-share (in the catch) at the same gates, so that the lessors may have the remaining three-quarters (since) they are providing the nets, boats and fishermen, for all of which we have received on the spot the agreed rent by hand in full, so that he may make his catch unhindered for the time which is appropriate . . . being for Zoilos . . . to make . . . (J. R. Rea, trans; quoted in G. H. R. Horsley 1983:18).

APPENDIX 5: Fishing Toll-House Stele
(I.Eph. Ia [1979] 20; 54-59 CE)

To Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus the Imperator, and to Julia Agrippina Augusta his mother, and to Octavia the wife of the Imperator, and the demos of the Romans and the demos of the Ephesians, the fishermen and fishmongers, having received the place by a decree from the city (and) having built the customs house for fishery (toll) at their own expense, dedicated it. The following provided subventions to the work according to the amount (indicated):
[Col. 1] Publius Hordeonius Lollianus with his wife and children 4 columns Publius Cornelius Alexandros for paving of the open area with Phokaian stone, 100 cubits Tiberius Claudius Metrodoros with his wife and children 3 columns; and for paving the colonnade that is beside the stele with Phokaian stone P. Gerellanus Melleitos 2 columns Euporos, son of Artemidoros 1 column and 12 den. Philokrates, son of Apellas with his children 1 column and 12 den. L. Octavius Macer with his brothers 1 column P. Anthestius, son of Publius 1 column Onesimos, son of Apollonios and Dionysios, son of Charisios 1 painted column P. Cornelius Felix, with Cornelia Ision 1 column Septimius Trophimos, with his children (1) column Herakleides, son of Herakleides, grandson of Herakleides (?) den. Epaphras, son of Tryphonas, with his son 300 tiles P. Paevius Niger, with his children 50 den. P. Vedius Verus, with his sons 50 den. L. Fabricius Tosides, with his son 50 den. P. Cornelius Philistion, with his son 50 den. L. Octavius Rufus, with his sons 50 den. Tryphon, son of Artemidoros 37 den. Isas, son of Artemidoros 37 den. Attalos, son of Charixenos, (also called) Hamaxas, with his son 30 den. Epikrates, son of Antiochos (also called) Kroukras, with his sons 30 den. Isas, son of Isidoros 30 den. ---- [Col. 2] Hesperos, son of Demetrios, with his sons 25 den. Q. Laberius Niger, with his son 25 den. Isas, son of Hermochares, with his sons 25 den. C. Furius, with his son 25 den. M. Valerius Fronto with his daughter 25 den. Artemisios, son of Lesbios 25 den. P. Savidius Amethystos, with his sons 25 den. Hierax, son of Hermokrates, with his wife 25 den. Didymos, son of Theudas 25 den. Demetrios, son of Demetrios, (also called) Kenartas 25 den. Xanthos, son of Pythion 2000 bricks Phorbos, watchman 1000 bricks Secundus, watchman 1000 bricks M. Antonius Bassus, with his daughter all the rush mats of the stoa Syneros, son of Kleanax, with his son 20 den. Vet(u)lenus Primus, with his son 20 den. Cn. Cornelius Eunous, with his child 15 den. Attalos, son of Attalos, grandson of Kassiades 15 den. Diogenes, son of Diogenes, with his son 15 den. Vettidius Nikandros, with his sons 15 den. Gaius Roscilius 15 den. Zosmios, son of Gaius Furius 15 den. Bacchios, son of Euphrosynos, with his mother 15 den. L. Vitellius, with his son 15 den. L. Consius Epaphroditos 15 den. Aristeas, son of Aristoboulos, with his son 15 den. Ruficius Faustus 15 den. P. Livius 15 den. Antiochos (also called) Psychas, with his son 15 den. Chares, son of Chares, with his sons 15 den. 

L. Fabricius Vitalis was works superintendent and deviser of the construction of the work. He also dedicated at his own expense, with his wife and their threptoi, 2 columns, the ones beside the temple of the Samothracian gods, with the adjacent altars.
(G. H. R. Horsley 1989:97-98; modified by Horsley from the trans. of H. Wankel)
[NB: Side B of the stele is severely damaged, but it has more names, with donors giving sums of 5 den. (more or less).] 

APPENDIX 6: Egyptian Fishermen's Oath
(P.S.I. 901.7-16; 46 CE)

We, Heraclides son of Tryphon, scribe of the fishermen of the shore of Berenicis Thesmophori, and Harmieus son of Anoubas, Papis son of Onnophris, Panomieus son of Akes, Sekoneus son of Patunis, Anchorimphis son of Orseus, Harpagathes son of Nilus, Panomieus son of Harmais, Necches son of Opis, Orseus son of Opis, Patunis son of Orseus, Orseus son of Orseus, Patunis son of Satabous, Pelous son of Patunis, all thirteen being elders of the fishermen of the villages of Narmouthis and Berenicis Thesmophori, swear, all fourteen, to the agents of Sarapion son of Ptolemaus, nomarch and superintendent of the revenues and the distribution of imposts of the Arsinoite nome, by Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus Imperator that we never have been or will be privy to fishing or dragging a net or casting a net to catch the images of the divine oxyrhynchi and lepidoti, in conformity with the public engagement signed by us and the other fishermen. If we swear truly, may it be well with us, if falsely, the reverse. The 6th year of Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus Imperator, Pharmouthi 22.

(Hunt and Edgar 1934:373-75; my emphasis) 

APPENDIX 7: Egyptian Toll Receipt
(BGU 2305; 25 CE)

Diogenes, superintendent of the customs house at Soknopaiou Nesos for the Memphis harbour-tax, to the desert-guards. Didymos presented one donkey load- = two measures-of oil, total two measures. Year 11 of Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus Imperator on the 23rd of the month New Augustus.

(G. H. R. Horsley 1981:81)

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