Eline Scheerlinck is a PhD student in Greek and Coptic Papyrology at Leiden University. She studied Classics at Ghent University, Belgium, where she also successfully defended a PhD thesis in the field of History of the Humanities. In order to return to working with ancient documents, she came to Leiden to pursue the Egyptology research Master programme. Within this programme, she has focused on acquiring the necessary knowledge and skills to study, read and edit papyri in Greek and Egyptian (Coptic and Demotic) language.
Within the “Embedding Conquest” project, Eline studies the social role of the local elites in early Islamic Egypt. She examines Coptic and Greek papyri which illuminate the social relationships between elites and members of the local communities and between elites and the government. She focuses in particular on issues concerning fugitives, in particular tax fugitives. When it came to the payment of taxes – an important aspect of the relationship between empire and subjects – the municipal authorities were responsible for collecting taxes for the government. Moreover, the evidence shows people with means acting as surety for other members of the community to ensure that all taxes were paid. The documentary texts on ostraca and papyri show that the clerical and non-clerical elites intervene in their communities through financial and legal protection. Starting from the Coptic so-called “logos mpnoute” documents, protection letters allowing fugitives to return home and to receive a certain amount of protection from punishment or prosecution, Eline’s project will question these and related documents in order to gather information on social cohesion in early Islamic Egypt, interaction with the state, the “self-regulation” of the local communities and the role played by the local elites.