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Money in Ptolemaic Egypt


  • Page extent: 378 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.72 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521852647)

This book explores the impact of Alexander the Great's introduction of coined money on the economy and society of Egypt and its political implications for the formation of the Ptolemaic state. It argues that the introduction of coinage happened slowly, spreading gradually from Alexandria into the chora. Under Ptolemy II, however, Egypt was aggressively monetised. Using both numismatic and papyrological evidence, the workings of a rural monetary economy are reconstructed where coinage was in high demand, but in short supply. It is argued that by the middle of the third century BC Egypt was much more thoroughly monetised than is usually assumed, but that the degree of monetisation was sustained only by an extensive credit economy as well as ad hoc commutation of monetary payments into kind. Contextualising the complexities of credit and banking in rural Egypt, the book offers a fresh picture of their function in the ancient economy.

• Makes accessible the very rich but complicated evidence for the economy of Ptolemaic Egypt • Describes the complexities of money use, credit and banking in a rural economy and society • Makes a significant contribution to the debate on the ancient economy


Introduction; 1. Questions and issues; 2. The historical background; Part I. Money and Coinage: 1. The money of the King; 2. Monetising the countryside; Part II. Cash and Kind: 3. Taxes; 4. Bronze and silver; 5. Rents; 6. Wages; Part III. Debt and Credit: 7. Formal loans (List 1–2); 8. Extending the credit economy (Lists 3–5); 9. Leases and labour contracts; 10. Credit in a social context; Part IV. Banking: 11. Banks and money supply; 12. Banking and business; Conclusion; Appendices.


'Sitta von Reden's book deals with a well defined topic and combines numismatic and papyrological evidence in an interesting and illuminating way. … This book is highly recommended for anyone interested in the economy of third century BC Ptolemaic Egypt.' De novis libris iudicia

'The information and interpretations that [von Reden] provides here will be a welcome reference to many historians, and her work will spark the interest of scholars to further our knowledge of this period as well as subsequent periods of the Ptolemaic economy.' The Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists

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