The William K. and Marilyn M. Simpson Professor of Classics and History
Senior Research Scholar, Yale Law School.
Much 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 richest 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.
- Late Autumn 2013: Law and legal practice in Egypt from Alexander to the Arab Conquest. Cambridge U.P. Edited with JG Keenan and Uri-Yiftach-Firanko.
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.
- The Yale Initiative for the Study of the Ancient and Premodern world
- The Center for Historical Enquiry and the Social Sciences
In the Popular Press
- Beyond the Pharaohs. The Wall Street Journal Bookshelf, March 19, 2011.
Selected Recent Publications
- "Egypt," in Peter Bang and Walter Scheidel, eds., The Oxford handbook of the state in the ancient near east and Mediterranean. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pp. 61-93.
- "The capture of the Thebaid" in Perspectives on Ptolemaic Thebes. Ed. Peter F. Dorman and Betsey M. Bryan. Chicago:Oriental Institute, 2011. Pp. 1–16
- The last pharaohs. Egypt under the Ptolemies. Princeton University Press, 2009.
- "The Ptolemaic economy," in The Cambridge Economic History
of the Graeco-Roman World. Eds. Ian Morris, Walter Scheidel & Richard Saller.
Cambridge University Press, 2007. Pp. 434–59.
- The ancient economy. Evidence and models. With Ian Morris.
Stanford University Press, 2005.
- Land and power in Ptolemaic Egypt. The structure of land tenure 332–30 BCE.
Cambridge University Press, 2003.
- "Demotic Law," in A history of ancient Near Eastern law.
Ed. Raymond Westbrook. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2003. Pp. 819–62.
- "Getting Things Done in the World. New Perspectives on History and Theory," The Journal of Economic History 74/1 (2014): 282-86.
- F. Fukuyama, The origins of political order
- 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.
CLCV 308/HIST 221J
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.