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Potters on Record

The Potter's Papyrus
Oxyrhynchus 3595, A.D. 243

Things seem to have changed by the early Byzantine era, however. The pool of slaves had shrunk appreciably by then, and the daily lot of much of the Roman citizenry was moving towards serfdom, amid an oppressive amount of State bureaucracy and local taxation. One mid-3rd century A.D. papyrus from the Egyptian town of Oxyrhynchus, which was then the capital of the Aegyptus province, describes how a potter leased an estate's workshop, so that he could provide the estate's owner with some 18,000 wine amphorae of various capacities over a period of two years. Leases of this kind were in effect labor contracts, and have parallels with various rental agreements of the day, including those which allowed cropping in the vineyard itself, in exchange for some cash and some in-kind payment of wine and other provisions.