Inheritance disputes and violence in women’s petitions from Ptolemaic Egypt


This article uses formal petitions to the king or to officials as a source for our knowledge of women’s daily life in Ptolemaic Egypt. In contrast with the use of single petitions as source material, the collection of this corpus permits an inclusive overview of the legal problems women tried to solve independently with an appeal to the authorities. Two problems often recur among the diverse complaints and requests: inheritance disputes and acts of violence. In the first section of this article we look at the documents in which the petitioner complains that the accused claims property that belongs to her by legacy. In the second section we take a closer look at the petitions concerning acts of violence committed against the female petitioner. Although the female petitioners obviously present themselves as victims, these complaints and requests illustrate women’s power to gain and protect property and to undertake legal actions without obvious assistance of family members or others.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i15912221v20-21p163

Keywords: Papyri; Ptolemaic period; petitions; Papiri; periodo Tolemaico; petizioni

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