The project investigates the human experience of migrants to and within Hellenistic Egypt. It studies the ways in which ‘outsiders’ became embedded in their new home by developing various patterns of complex identities and shows the socio-cultural impact that the migrants had on the shaping of local society.
This project represents the first comprehensive and systematic study of the human experience of migrants to and within the Kingdom of Egypt in the Hellenistic period (323–30 BC). As a result of the crumbling of Alexander the Great’s Empire after his death, Egypt came under the rule of the Ptolemaic dynasty, who attracted to their newly-established Kingdom numerous immigrants, both civilians and soldiers who served in the Ptolemies’ military campaigns.
In the contemporary popular imagination – further encouraged by Ptolemaic propaganda – Egypt represented a land of riches and possibilities for those who were willing to seize them: a good number of immigrants from Greece and from other parts of the ancient world settled in Egypt during the Ptolemaic period, bringing with them their own different customs and making their home in a country which was completely new to them. In addition to foreign immigration, some areas of the country also witnessed considerable waves of internal migration, with local population leaving their residence to settle in other parts of the country, which offered better prospects for prosperity or required labour.
The project combines sources in Greek and in Egyptian to bridge the gap of traditional scholarship, that tends to focus on one or the other, and surpasses a Hellenocentric perspective by encompassing not only immigrants from the Greek-speaking world but also migration from other areas of the ancient world, as well as internal migration.
This analysis studies the ways in which these ‘outsiders’ became embedded in their new home by developing various patterns of complex identities and investigates the impact that the migrants had on the shaping of local society. The research addresses the questions of how, by what means, and how much the migrants and more often their descendants adapted themselves and the local socio-cultural environment in the process of making Egypt their new home and how they became ‘insiders’, as constitutive components of the multifaceted society of Hellenistic Egypt.