The Structural Tensions of Ptolemaic Society

Jean Bingen

in Hellenistic Egypt

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print March 2007 | ISBN: 9780748615780
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748670727 | DOI:
The Structural Tensions of Ptolemaic Society

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  • Greek and Roman Archaeology


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This chapters explores the difficulty of writing history about Hellenistic Egypt from the extremely patchy and discontinuous papyrological documentation, which rich though it seems has far more gaps than areas covered. It looks at some of the difficulties that the Greeks faced in trying to create a coherent society in Egypt through the lens of three bodies of documents: the Zenon archive; an amnesty decree from the late second century BCE from the Fayyum, and the Herakleopolite papyri of the first century (chapter 11). It is clear that the documents cannot be explained by a coherent system of functioning. Rather, we find a variety of competing groups with antagonistic interests, centered above all on access to the land, which was largely controlled by the king.

Keywords: Zenon archive; competition; royal land; entrepreneurs; agriculture

Chapter.  7437 words. 

Subjects: Greek and Roman Archaeology

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