Review of Ptolemy I and the Transformation of Egypt, 404-282 BCE

Tara Sewell-Lasater of the University of Houston has just reviewed Ptolemy I and the Transformation of Egypt, 404-282 BCE in the Bryn Mawr Classical Review. I am pleased to report that she saw my chapter, “The Role of Coinage in the Political Economy of Fourth Century Egypt,” in a very favorable light, and I am especially gratified that she appreciated my efforts to integrate coins into the study of the ancient Egyptian economy.

This chapter grew out of my 2011 paper for the American Numismatic Society’s Eric P. Newman Summer Seminar. Part of it, focusing on the fifth century BCE, will appear in a my forthcoming book Archaeology of Empire in Achaemenid Egypt. But in trying to understand the role of (Greek) coins in Persian period Egypt I found myself trying to understand the structure of the Egyptian economy, and the paper accordingly ballooned into this chapter! The fourth century, which really falls outside of the parameters of my book, was the perfect place to try to test these ideas.

As I have often said in person, I am not an Egyptologist and I have no ambition to become one. Nor am I especially skilled as a numismatist, though I continue to develop my abilities in that area. So this chapter will probably be my only foray into Egyptian history and archaeology outside of the context of Achaemenid rule. I am happy that it has been well received so far!

Incidentally, I have also published a very brief discussion of this same topic on pages 113-15 of Beyond the Nile: Egypt and the Classical World, the catalog accompanying the eponymous exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Museum (which closed September 9).