Egypt, Ptolemaic

Dorothy J. Thompson

in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Classics

Published online March 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780199381135 | DOI:

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  • Ancient Greek History
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In the period from the death of Alexander (3) the Great in 323 bce until Octavian's conquest and the death of *Cleopatra VII in 30 bce the Egyptian throne was held by Macedonians, and from 304 by the one family (for which see ptolemy (1)) descended from Alexander's general Ptolemy son of Lagus. Externally the main problem remained the extent of the kingdom, while internally the nature of administrative control and relations with the native Egyptians formed the major concerns of this new resident dynasty of foreign pharaohs. For the modern observer it is the incomplete nature of the historical record which presents problems. Contemporary historical analysis is limited in period (*Polybius (1), *Diodorus (3) Siculus), much of it concentrating on the scandalous and sensational (*Pompeius Trogus, *Justin), and while numerous papyri and ostraca, preserved through the dry desert conditions, join with inscriptions to make Egypt better documented than other Hellenistic kingdoms, these illustrate the details of administration and everyday life without its wider context.

Article.  968 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Greek History ; Middle Eastern History

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