Crime in Antiquity: Law Enforcement in Ptolemaic Egypt

John us tonight at 6pm EST on the VoiceAmerica Variety Channel!

Throughout the years of Ptolemaic rule, victims of crime in all areas of the Egyptian countryside called on local police officials to investigate wrongdoings. What was this ancient police force like – would it have seemed familiar to someone used to modern law enforcement? Drawing on a large body of textual evidence for the cultural, social, and economic interactions between state and citizen, Dr. John Bauschatz of the University of Arizona demonstrates in his recent book that the police system was efficient, effective, and largely independent of central government controls. No other law enforcement organization exhibiting such a degree of autonomy and flexibility appears in extant evidence from the rest of the Greco-Roman world. Examining the activities of a broad array of police officers in Ptolemaic Egypt (323–30 BC), Dr. Bauschatz argues that Ptolemaic police officials enjoyed great autonomy, providing assistance to even the lowest levels of society when crimes were committed.

drjohnbauschatzJohn Bauschatz is Assistant Professor in the Department of Classics at the University of Arizona. His research focuses on Greek and Roman social history, Greek papyrology, Hellenistic and Roman Egypt, and crime in antiquity. He has been named a National Lecturer for the Archaeological Institute of America (2013–14) and has published in such journals as The Classical Bulletin, The Classical Journal, Syllecta Classica and Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik.


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