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Army and society in Ptolemaic Egypt by…

Army and society in Ptolemaic Egypt

by Christelle Fischer-Bovet

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One would scarcely have imagined a decade ago that the first volume in a Cambridge series titled Armies of the Ancient World (edited by Nick Sekunda) would be devoted to the Ptolemies. But so this is, and is most welcome since it has been more than a century since the last major work devoted to the army of Ptolemaic Egypt, and is the first in English. Army and Society in Ptolemaic Egypt, developed from Fischer-Bovet’s dissertation of the same title (Stanford 2008, advised by J. G. Manning), is evidence of renewed interest in the Ptolemaic kingdom and a significant contribution to its historiography. Recent works, with their more extensive use of demotic evidence, have emphasized the negotiated, multicultural elements within Ptolemaic institutions and have demonstrated continuities with the Late Period and Roman eras, thereby reconfiguring the popular narrative of Ptolemaic decline to highlight Egyptian agency and acculturation. Fischer-Bovet’s work advances these historiographical trends through an institutional and social history of the Ptolemaic army in Hellenistic Egypt. An “era of crisis” from 220-160 BC provoked meaningful institutional reforms. These lessened the coercive and increased the interactive functions of the Ptolemaic army, turning it in the late period (160-30 BC) into “an engine of socio-economic and cultural integration” for Greeks and Egyptians (366).
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