J.G. Manning

The William K. and Marilyn M. Simpson Professor of Classics and History
Senior Research Scholar, Yale Law School.

Joe Manning is an ancient historian whose main interest is in the social history of the Hellenistic world. His primary focus has been in the fields of economic and legal history. He was educated at the Ohio State University (Medieval architectural history/History) and the University of Chicago, studying Egyptology and Ancient History, taking an AM and a PHD in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.

Research interests

Manning booksMuch of his previous work has been devoted to the understanding of the interactions between Greek and Egyptian institutions in the Ptolemaic period and the new state formation of the Ptolemies that was driven by these interactions as well as longer term historical forces. His approach, thus, has been to examine Ptolemaic Egyptian society as a whole, striking a balance between state aims and local responses to these aims, and deploying both the Egyptian and Greek material to fuller effect.

His main concern is the historical interpretation of the Greek and demotic documentary texts of the Ptolemaic period, the role of archaeology in the context of Ptolemaic economic history, and the applicability of social science theory, particularly New Institutional Economics and Social Network Analysis, towards an understanding the contextualization of the historical developments in the Ptolemaic empire. The papyri (and ostraca) from Ptolemaic Egypt comprise the Law and Legal book coverrichest corpus for the study of the hellenistic economy and the formation and expansion of Ptolemaic governance, but using the information recorded in the texts in the wider context of state development, economic performance and institutional change presents enormous interpretive challenges. He is also increasingly interested in material culture and the integration of archaeological material into the understanding of long term trends in economy and society (e.g. the performance of the economy and cultural interactions between Greek and Egyptians among other groups), as well as larger scale work in the deep connections between Hellenistic and Roman history generally.

Forthcoming book

Current Research Projects

  • The Cambridge Comparative History of Ancient Law. Forthcoming, Cambridge University Press. Lead Author on the Chapter on Property.
  • Writing Egyptian economic history in the long run, joint with Juan-Carlos Moreno Garcia (CNRS).
  • Historical variables in long run Egyptian history. The Seshat project, Global History Databank, The Evolution Institute. The Polity template of the project.

Current Book Project

  • The economy of the ancient Mediterranean. Princeton U. P.

Yale-Based Activities

In the Popular Press

Selected Recent Publications

Recent Reviews

Upcoming Conferences/Lectures

  • March 15: "Sovereignty and Governance in the Hellenistic World: Ideal Kings in the Real World", The Second Annual Celia M. Fountain Symposium, The University of Colorado-Boulder.
  • April 11 "Greeks in an Egyptian theater. Kings, the power of history and the evolution of the Ptolemaic state". Infrastructural and Despotic Power in Ancient States. Center for the Study of Religions and the Franke Institute for the Humanities, University of Chicago.

Current Papers Under Revision

  • "Leagues and Kingdoms: beyond the city state," in The Oxford handbook of economies in the classical world. Ed. Alain Bresson, Elio Lo Cascio and François Velde. Oxford.
  • "Ptolemaic governance and transaction costs," in Transaction costs in the ancient world. Ed. Uri Yiftach-Firanko and David Ratzan. The University of Michigan Press.
  • "At the Limits: Long Distance Trade in the Time of Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Kings," Reconfiguring the Silk Road: New Research on East-West Exchange in Antiquity. University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • "Cross-cultural communications in Egypt," in Exploring communications in the ancient world: An Oxford handbook, ed. R. Talbert and F. Naiden. Oxford University Press.
  • "Hellenistic Trad(ers)," in Trade in the Ancient Mediterranean. Publications of the Association of Ancient Historians, ed. Timothy Howe.
  • "Writing the economic history of ancient Egypt," The Journal of Egyptian History. With Juan-Carlos Moreno-Garcia.
  • "The administration of justice in Ptolemaic Egypt," in Administration, Law and administrative law, ed. Michael Jursa. Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna.
  • "Regional Studies: Egypt," in A Companion to Greeks Across the Ancient World, ed. Franco De Angelis. Wiley Blackwell.

Download cv here

featured Courses This Year

Manning 308

CLCV 308/HIST 221J

Ancient Economy

Spring Semester, 2014

To survey the economies of the ancient Mediterranean world (Classical Greece and Rome, Egypt and the Near East), with emphasis on economic institutions, the development of the economies over time, ancient economic thought, and the interrelationships between institutions and economic growth. 

Material evidence for studying the economies of the ancient world, including coinage, documentary material such as contracts, and archaeology, and the relationship of the economy to other aspects of ancient society will also be discussed. Current trends in scholarship will also be discussed in the lectures.

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Manning photo

(LOA Fall '13)
Ancient History

Research Hellenistic History, Papyrology, economic and legal history.

Courses Spring 2014 The Ancient Economy Graduate Seminar: Exchange: Economic and Cultural

Contact details

311/404 Phelps Hall

Phone (203) 432-0989
Fax (203) 432-1079


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