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On Kings, Smugglers and Bureaucrats: ‘State Monopolies’ in Ptolemaic Egypt

  • Nico Dogaer
Friday 7 April 2017
Followed by drinks in a bar nearby
University Library
Witte Singel 27
2311 BG Leiden
Vossius Room

Egypt is widely known as the breadbasket of the ancient Mediterranean, but its economy was by no means limited to agriculture. Egypts inhabitants produced and sold many commodities like vegetable oils, beer, papyrus, textiles, salt etc. Under the Ptolemies (30530 BC), the production and sale of many of these products was subject to various forms of state control and intervention, referred to collectively as state monopolies We will take a closer look at these peculiar regulations and their enforcement through exemplary papyri. These documents reveal fascinating details about the stories of common men and women like the ill-fated Apollodoros from Tebtunis, a licensed salesman whose business suffered greatly from violent oil smugglers. We will also consider the effects of the state monopolies on the economy and society; in the words of Emperor Tiberius, did the Ptolemies merely seek to shear their flock, or did they skin them?


Nico Dogaer is PhD student at the Catholic University of Leuven. During the month of April 2017 he will visit Leiden as Guest Reseacher at the Leiden Papyrological Institute.

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