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Hellenistic EgyptMonarchy, Society, Economy, Culture$
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Roger Bagnall and Jean Bingen

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780748615780

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748615780.001.0001

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The Revenue Laws Papyrus: Greek Tradition and Hellenistic Adaptation

The Revenue Laws Papyrus: Greek Tradition and Hellenistic Adaptation

(p.157) Chapter 13 The Revenue Laws Papyrus: Greek Tradition and Hellenistic Adaptation
Hellenistic Egypt

Jean Bingen

Edinburgh University Press

The “Revenue Laws” of Ptolemy II Philadelphos are a cluster of 7-8 ordinances, collected in two related but separate papyrus rolls found in the late nineteenth century and usually treated as if they were a whole. They concern taxation and monopolies (especially of vegetable oil manufacture and banks) in the middle of Ptolemy II's reign (259 BCE). They formed the foundation of the view of the Ptolemaic economy as centrally directed and planned by the government, but in fact they concern only part of the economy and are complex to interpret. They show the partly aligned, partly competing interests of the king and the companies of investors who bid for taxes and for production and distribution monopolies. The habit of “farming” out such public contracts to private entrepreneurs was adapted from classical Greek practice but altered in various ways to the Ptolemaic environment.

Keywords:   monopoly, taxation, Ptolemy II Philadelphos, tax-farming, entrepreneurs

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