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Egypt (251-337)

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  1. Introduction
  2. Its development over the years
  3. It economic policy
  4. Conclusion

Roman Egypt was obviously not founded in the territories inhabited by tribes who were called barbarians by the Romans. When they actually got hold of it in 30BC, after making an ally, they put an end to the independence of Egypt and the Hellenistic period. The two great preceding eras of the Ptolemaic successor to the Egyptian pharaohs in 323BC gave them a legacy of culture above which they could not be ignored. The reduction of Egypt to a province was directly under the civil war that was being fought. Thus it was not really a military conquest as it may have appeared elsewhere.

The presence of the Romans remained endemic elsewhere particularly with the aim of controlling the territory, less than draining its resources. Executives of life remain largely those of the Hellenistic period. It is very presumptuous to speak of 'Romanization'. Life continues to be carried on outside the influence of new holders of power, as illustrated by the struggle between the Jews and Greeks to the destruction of the first emperor Hadrian in the first quarter of the second century.

The expression of hostility vis-a-vis the Roman authorities focused mainly within the city of Alexandria, which was animated by several revolts during the Antoninianus and Severian periods, one very severely repressed by Caracalla in 215. Caracalla even put an end to claims of the inhabitants of Egypt concerning the citizenship by the edict of 212. The province was not of the standard required by the Senate. It appeared as the emperor's own, and originality was reflected in administrative frameworks that governed such provinces.

The Egyptian case is also illustrated by the historical material it provides. Indeed, the sources are extremely abundant. There are several languages reflecting the cosmopolitan Egyptian society. Besides the coins, the inscriptions and archaeological data which were available, it was primarily by papyrology that one was able to study the Egypt of the time. From this point of view, the number of these papyri singled out Egypt sharply when compared to other provinces.

This is to study the evolution of the main features of the identity of the province in terms of military, economic, fiscal, administrative, social, cultural and religious characteristics mostly, given the difficulties known to the global empire at the height of the military threats against it, due to its inability to respond, but also with the recovery of the situation, which began as early as 270 and confirmed by the Tetrarchy restoration, in short, the reign of Valerian (253-260) to that of Constantine (312-337). The issues involved relate to the very roots of imperial power and the design of the Roman territory.

Because of its location, Egypt is a crucial area in the strategic space of the Roman East, near the Persian Empire. Combined with the general political movements of the Empire and endogenous disorders of Egyptian society, it constitutes a large part in the so-called "crisis" of the third century.

Tags: Persian Empire, Tetrarchy restoration, papyrology

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