Communal Agriculture in the Ptolemaic and Roman Fayyum

11 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2009

See all articles by Andrew Monson

Andrew Monson

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: 2007


The article presents the model that rising demand for land drives the process of privatization. It likens ancient developments in Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt to similar trends towards privatization in nineteenth-century Egypt. Given the difficulty imposed by the ancient evidence for tracing changes over time, it concentrates on observable regional variations that conform to the model. Differences in population density seem to correlate with differences in agrarian institutions. There are especially good data for tenure on public land in Roman Egypt, so this period is treated in more detail. In the more sparsely populated Fayyum, communal peasant institutions remained important for the cultivation of public land just as they were in the Ptolemaic period. In the Nile Valley, by contrast, private landowners encroached on public land by having it registered into their names and treating it more like private property.

Suggested Citation

Monson, Andrew, Communal Agriculture in the Ptolemaic and Roman Fayyum (2007). Princeton/Stanford Working Papers in Classics Paper No. 100703, Available at SSRN: or

Andrew Monson (Contact Author)

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