Reviewed by William S. Bubelis
Any work that illuminates how the religious and public domains of Athenian life intersected ought to be welcomed, and especially one such as this that throws significant new light upon a key node of that intersection, namely, land and landed property. In this ambitious and often erudite book, Papazarkadas takes up the challenge of elucidating the origins and nature of land (as well as built structures) that fell under the control or ownership of various corporate entities, ranging from phratries and demes to the polis itself as a manager of land ascribed to one deity or another.
To be clear, the book evinces no over-arching argument, for as the author expresses at the outset (p. 11), his purpose “has been to provide an exhaustive presentation of ancient testimonies of realty controlled by collectivities.” As a resolutely empirical study of the almost wholly epigraphic evidence for that land and the manner in which Athenians utilized it, much of the book’s value lies also in its microscopic treatment of several hundred inscriptions and related passages from the orators, lexicographers and others whose value has too often been overlooked or misinterpreted. Growing out of the author’s Oxford D.Phil. thesis of 2004, this revised and streamlined monograph is a boon to specialists of Athenian religion, history, law, and economics.