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date: 21 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter queries a textual corpus comprised of tax records, petitions, contracts, laws, business correspondence, and private letters written in Ptolemaic Egypt (305–30 BCE). Although most of the contexts in which children appear are more revealing of the values, concerns, and expectations of adults than they are of children’s own experiences and motivations, the papyri nevertheless reveal how children were invested with the transmission of the distinct cultural identity of their social (Greek or Egyptian) environment. The chapter examines the family unit in the early decades of the Greek occupation of Egypt, noting the marked underrepresentation of girls in Greek households, and then traces the course of children’s lives, from pregnancy to birth and birthday, from toys to school or workplace, and, for too many, to premature death.

Keywords: Ptolemies (or Ptolemaic), Egypt, papyri, letters, petitions, tax records, contracts, exposure, birth, toys, schools, death

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