J.G. Manning

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

Manning has two primary research foci, the Economic and legal History of the Hellenistic world, and Egyptian history in the long run. He was educated at the Ohio State University (Medieval architectural history/History) and the University of Chicago, which included a year long ARCE Fellowship that allowed him the opportunity to live and travel in Egypt, and a year studying in Cambridge University. At Chicago Manning studied 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 has beenthe 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. Manning’s work now takes him in some new and exciting directions, including working on the modeling of Egyptian history using cultural evolutionary theory, among other approaches, for the Seshat Project (below), the study of comparative bureaucratic developments in the Mediterranean and China, the history of property in the context of ancient law, and a new major project exploring and specifying the underlying links between short-term climate change, war, rebellion and economic performance in the Hellenistic world.

Selected Books/Articles

Recent Reviews

Current Projects and Activities


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.
  • “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.

Current and Former Ph.D. Students

Download cv here

featured Courses This Year

Manning 330a

ARCG 020 / CLCV 059 / EVST 030 / HIST 020 / NELC 026

Rivers and Civilizations

J.G. Manning and Harvey Weiss. Fulfills Humanities Requirement

Fall 2015, Tu Th 9.00-10.15 

Goal: Why did the earliest civilizations develop in the Nile and Tigris-Euphrates river valleys? What was the relationship between these societies’ histories and their environments, and what was the role of climate change in early civilization development? This course explores these fundamental historical questions by re-examining social history in the "Fertile Crescent," and explores why exploring this topic is of crucial relevance for the contemporary world.

Includes analysis of Mesopotamia and Egypt from the origins of agriculture to the earliest cities and civilization, to the earliest empires — and the collapses that punctuated these developments. What forces drove these uniquely early Egyptian and Mesopotamian developments? The essential questions will be asked at each interval: why did this happen, develop, evolve? The collapse of the Ottoman empire will be explored last, with the British (1917) and American (1991, 2003) invasions of Iraq — the most destructive since the thirteenth century

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Manning photo

Field Ancient History

Research Hellenistic History, Papyrology, economic and legal history.

Courses Fall 2014 Directed Studies: History and Politics; Ancient Empires; Theory and Method in History (Graduate Seminar)

Contact details

311/404 Phelps Hall

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


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