Manning has two primary research foci, the Economic and legal History of the Hellenistic world, and Egyptian history in the long run. He was educated at the Ohio State University (Medieval architectural history/History) and the University of Chicago, which included a year long ARCE Fellowship that allowed him the opportunity to live and travel in Egypt, and a year studying in Cambridge University. At Chicago Manning studied Egyptology and Ancient History, taking an AM and a PHD in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.
Much of his previous work has been devoted to the understanding of the interactions between Greek and Egyptian institutions in the Ptolemaic period and the new state formation of the Ptolemies that was driven by these interactions as well as longer term historical forces. His approach, thus, has been to examine Ptolemaic Egyptian society as a whole, striking a balance between state aims and local responses to these aims, and deploying both the Egyptian and Greek material to fuller effect.
His main concern has beenthe historical interpretation of the Greek and demotic documentary texts of the Ptolemaic period, the role of archaeology in the context of Ptolemaic economic history, and the applicability of social science theory, particularly New Institutional Economics and Social Network Analysis, towards an understanding the contextualization of the historical developments in the Ptolemaic empire. The papyri (and ostraca) from Ptolemaic Egypt comprise the richest corpus for the study of the hellenistic economy and the formation and expansion of Ptolemaic governance, but using the information recorded in the texts in the wider context of state development, economic performance and institutional change presents enormous interpretive challenges. He is also increasingly interested in material culture and the integration of archaeological material into the understanding of long term trends in economy and society (e.g. the performance of the economy and cultural interactions between Greek and Egyptians among other groups), as well as larger scale work in the deep connections between Hellenistic and Roman history generally. Manning’s work now takes him in some new and exciting directions, including working on the modeling of Egyptian history using cultural evolutionary theory, among other approaches, for the Seshat Project (below), the study of comparative bureaucratic developments in the Mediterranean and China, the history of property in the context of ancient law, and a new major project exploring and specifying the underlying links between short-term climate change, war, rebellion and economic performance in the Hellenistic world.
- Current book project: The economy of the ancient Mediterranean. Princeton U. P.
- Just appeared: “At the Limits: Long Distance Trade in the Time of Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Kings,” Reconfiguring the Silk Road: New Research on East-West Exchange in Antiquity. University of Pennsylvania Press.
- June 2014: Law and legal practice in Egypt from Alexander to the Arab Conquest. Cambridge U.P. Edited with JG Keenan and Uri-Yiftach-Firanko.
- 2015: Writing History in Time of War: Michael Rostovtzeff, Elias Bickerman and the “Hellenization of Asia”. Edited by J. G. Manning.
- Beyond the Pharaohs. The Wall Street Journal Bookshelf, March 19, 2011.
- “Egypt,” in Peter Bang and Walter Scheidel, eds., The Oxford handbook of the state in the ancient near east and Mediterranean. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pp. 61–93.
- “The capture of the Thebaid” in Perspectives on Ptolemaic Thebes. Ed. Peter F. Dorman and Betsey M. Bryan. Chicago:Oriental Institute, 2011. Pp. 1–16
- The last pharaohs. Egypt under the Ptolemies. Princeton University Press, 2009.
- “The Ptolemaic economy,” in The Cambridge Economic History of the Graeco-Roman World. Eds. Ian Morris, Walter Scheidel & Richard Saller. Cambridge University Press, 2007. Pp. 434–59.
- The ancient economy. Evidence and models. With Ian Morris. Stanford University Press, 2005.
- Land and power in Ptolemaic Egypt. The structure of land tenure 332–30 BCE.
Cambridge University Press, 2003.
- “Demotic Law,” in A history of ancient Near Eastern law.
Ed. Raymond Westbrook. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2003. Pp. 819–62.
- “Getting Things Done in the World. New Perspectives on History and Theory,” The Journal of Economic History 74/1 (2014): 282-86.
- F. Fukuyama, The origins of political order. Cliodynamics: The Journal of Theoretical and Mathematical History 2/2 (2011).
Current Projects and Activities
- Demotic at Yale: A lecture Series. Link to poster.
- Yale Climate and History Initiative.
- Ancient Economies from Kindea Labs on Vimeo.
- The Cambridge Comparative History of Ancient Law. Forthcoming, Cambridge University Press. Lead Author on the Chapter on Property.
- Writing Egyptian economic history in the long run, joint with Juan-Carlos Moreno Garcia (CNRS).
- Historical variables in long run Egyptian history. The Seshat project, Global History Databank, The Evolution Institute. The Polity template of the project.
- The Yale Initiative for the Study of the Ancient and Premodern world
- The Center for Historical Enquiry and the Social Sciences
June The Law of Contract in Egyptian papyri, Paris.
- April 24–25 Kingship not monarchy: Ideas and practices of Ptolemaic governance. Penn State University.
September 5–7 Quantifying Egyptian History. Magdalen College, Oxford University.
- September 10–12 Political Economies of the Hellenistic World, a panel at the Economic History Association Meeting, Columbus Ohio
- October 3 The University of Pennsylvania, Economic History Workshop. Respondent to: John Wallis (Co-author, Doug North), University of Maryland, “Leviathan Denied: Coordination, Coercion, Rules, and the Nature of Government”
- October 17–19 The Relationship between Religion, Economic development and state formation in Egypt. Vancouver, Canada, University of British Columbia, Centre for Human Evolution, Cognition and Culture.
- October 30–31 In the crucible of Empire. Resistance, revolt and revolution in the Greco-Roman World. Yale University.
- November 5–7 Governing Ancient Empires, University of Vienna.
Current Papers Under Revision
- “Leagues and Kingdoms: beyond the city state,” in The Oxford handbook of economies in the classical world. Ed. Alain Bresson, Elio Lo Cascio and François Velde. Oxford.
- “Ptolemaic governance and transaction costs,” in Transaction costs in the ancient world. Ed. Uri Yiftach-Firanko and David Ratzan. The University of Michigan Press.
- “Cross-cultural communications in Egypt,” in Exploring communications in the ancient world: An Oxford handbook, ed. R. Talbert and F. Naiden. Oxford University Press.
- “Hellenistic Trad(ers),” in Trade in the Ancient Mediterranean. Publications of the Association of Ancient Historians, ed. Timothy Howe.
- “Writing the economic history of ancient Egypt,” The Journal of Egyptian History. With Juan-Carlos Moreno-Garcia.
- “The administration of justice in Ptolemaic Egypt,” in Administration, Law and administrative law, ed. Michael Jursa. Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna.
- “Regional Studies: Egypt,” in A Companion to Greeks Across the Ancient World, ed. Franco De Angelis. Wiley Blackwell.
Current and Former Ph.D. Students
- Alissa Abrams (Yale History)
- Niv Allon (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
- Sara Cole (Yale History)
- Christelle Fischer (USC)
- François Gerardin (Yale History)
- Maria Gutierrez (Yale NELC)
- Andy Hogan (Yale History)
- Andrew Monson (NYU)
- Jelle Stoop (Sydney)