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Graeco-Roman Egypt: a multi-cultural society


Admission requirements

Knowledge of Greek or Latin is not required but may prove indispensable for the investigation of some topics covered by the course.


After Alexander the Great had conquered Egypt, large numbers of Greek-speaking (and other) immigrants settled in the Nile Delta and in the Nile valley. Were these ‘immigrants’ amalgamated into a single group or did various subgroups, such as Macedonians or Thracians, hold on to identities of their own? How did Jewish immigrants fare in their new environment? And how did all these groups relate to the indigenous Egyptian population? Which lanaguges were used and in which contexts? Did Greek-speaking immigrants take over certain religious types of behaviour from the Egyptian population or do we observe a clear separation between different religious traditions? Was there a uniform system of law or do we see a plurality of competing or complementary legal systems? Is there any evidence for ‘mixed’ marriages? Was the juridical position of ‘Greek’women perhaps influenced by indigenous law which gave women a better deal than the legal systems of most Greek city-states. And finally, whcih developments can be observed in each of these areas after the imposition of Roman rule?
During this Research Seminar these as well as various other questions will be investigated with the help of the very abundant papyrological evidence. At this moment several tens of thousands of texts have been published, often with an accompanying translation.

Course objectives

Improved knowledge of the social history of Graeco-Roman Egypt. Improved ability to formulate promising research questions plus ability to track the primary sources and secondary literature needed to answer these questions. Improved ability to write a well-structured deliberative essay on the basic of independent research. Improved capacity to assess the strenghts and weaknesses of essays written by fellow-students and of publications written by professional scholars.


See here.

Mode of instruction

Research Seminar

Course Load

  • Total course load for the course: 280 hours.

  • Hours spent on attending lectures and seminars: 20

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature: 60 hours

  • (If applicable) Time to write a paper (including reading / research): 200 hours

Assessment method

Mark will be based on final paper, taking account of contribution made to seminar sessions (100%).



Reading list

In the second week students will be asked to do an entry test after reading two short monographs, namely N. Lewis, Life in Egypt under Roman Rule (Oxford 1983), and N. Lewis, Greeks in Ptolemaic Egypt (Oxford 1986).


via uSis.

Contact information

E-mail: Prof. Dr. L. de Ligt


If only native speakers of Dutch participate, the course can be taught in Dutch.