List or table: T-S K15.102

List or table T-S K15.102



Large, calligraphic alms list. Dating: first half of the twelfth century. According to Goitein, written for the purpose of allocating communal assistance. Cohen: "What kind of assistance was meant cannot be determined (cash?), but Goitein suggests that the numbers squeezed in between the lines represent the number of persons in each household (there are about eighty-five households) and that the entries bearing no numbers consist of households with only one person. In most of the alms lists recording the ration of loaves of bread distributed Tuesday and Friday the numbers occur next to the names of the recipients. On the reverse side, room was left for the Rum, but instead, there is a telling note: "The Rum cannot be counted." The list is headed by a ben tovim, a man from a good family.... To counteract embarrassment, this "man from a good family" was listed anonymously, though in first position on the list, a position of prestige, just before the relatives of two other persons of stature. The persons of stature are called "the head," perhaps a government clerk or a physician, so called because they often headed hospital departments. Later in the list we come upon an unusual entry, the "concealed" glassmaker, zajjaj mastur, nestled among a (poorly paid) parchment maker, a mason (another low-paid wage-eamer), and an immigrant woman (a widow, apparently) from Acre who was living in the home of one of the prominent merchants of Fustat, al-Lebdī. This glassmaker, a representative of the "working poor" and ashamed to appear on an alms list, had himself listed (or was listed by the charity overseers) both anonymously and as mastur, indicating that he normally did not seek charity. Note should be taken in this list of the many menial occupations, including a teacher, several synagogue beadles, and several kashrut supervisors. Hovering just above the "poverty line," they frequently needed supplementation from the community chest. Plenty of widows and orphans crop up here, as well as a couple of divorcees. Other "weak" persons are the ill or afflicted." (Information from Cohen, Voice of the Poor, 149)

T-S K15.102 1r




T-S K15.102 1v

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