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Hellenistic Egypt

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Hellenistic Egypt: Monarchy, Society, Economy, Culture. By Jean Bingen. Edited and with an Introduction by Roger S. Bagnall. (University of California Press, Berkeley: 2007. Pg. 392. 71 b/w Photographs, Maps.) ISBN 10: 0-520-25142-3. ISBN 13: 978-0-520-25142-7.

Reviewed by Simone Bonim - June 18, 2007

Consisting of a series of essays by the famed papyrologist and epigraphist, Jean Bingen, Hellenistic Egypt: Monarchy, Society, Economy, Culture serves as a detailed survey of Egyptian history and culture during the period of the Ptolemaic monarchy (app. 332 B.C.E. - 30 B.C.E.). The essays in this collection were selected by Roger S. Bagnall. A leading historian in his own right, Bagnall has selected essays that represent some of the best of Bingen's work on Hellenistic Egypt. Bingen is Emeritus Professor of Greek at the Free University of Brussels, and is currently the preeminent historian of Hellenistic Egypt, and Bagnall is Processor of Classics and History at Columbia University and has written several books about Ancient Egypt.

Bagnall has included an informative introduction which introduces not only the text, but also Bingen and his momentous work in the field of Hellenistic Egyptian history. This introduction also examines how Bingen's research has revolutionized the field and greatly contributed to our understanding of the period, a point that is further examined in the book's conclusion. The essays themselves are divided into four parts: The Monarchy, The Greeks, The Royal Economy, and Greeks and Egyptians.

Hellenistic Egypt: Monarchy, Society, Economy, Culture is essential reading for anyone studying ancient Egyptian, Roman, or Greek history. This book takes the reader from the conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great to its annexation by the Roman Empire under Octavian. Covering this relatively short period of around 300 years, these essays serve to provide the reader with a comprehensive and stimulating overview of the history, culture, politics, and economy of Egypt under the Ptolemy monarchy (including the reign of Cleopatra VII), and how Greek and Egyptian civilization were fused together during this period.

The text includes a helpful glossary of terms, practical maps, and an informative bibliography. Hellenistic Egypt can be used as a supplemental text in university classes on Egyptian, Greek, or Roman history, as well as in Classics and Middle Eastern Studies courses. It is also a 'must' read book for scholars and general readers alike with an interest in Hellenistic Egypt.

Related Reviews:

Egypt - From Alexander to the Early Christians, edited by Roger S. Bagnall and Dominic W. Rathbone.
An Archaeological and Historical Guide to Egypt - covering the period from Alexander the Great's conquest of Egypt in 332 B.C. through the Arab conquest of Egypt in A.D. 641.

Cleopatra: A Sourcebook, by Prudence J. Jones.
A collection of documents that chronicle the historical life of Cleopatra, and how her life's story has been interpreted in both historical and literary spheres.

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