Office HoursFridays 10 am-12 noon
Talia Prussin is Assistant Professor Without Review of Greek History and Language. After receiving her undergraduate degree in Classical Studies from the University of Chicago, she went to the University of California, Berkeley for her graduate work. There, she received her M.A. and Ph.D. from the Graduate Group in Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology. In 2023, she joined UBC’s Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies department. Her research focuses on colonization and land use in ancient empires, considering how ancient states develop institutions for distributing and administering land in order to control conquered territory. Her current book project reconsiders the transition between Achaemenid and Seleukid rule in the Near East through the lens of colonization and colonial institutions.
- Economic history
- Comparative study of empire
- Ancient colonization
- Achaemenid studies
- Seleukid history
- Greek (Language)
- Greek Studies
- Near Eastern Studies
Territorial: Land, Colonization, and the Economics of Empire
My current book project looks at the administration of land and institutional continuity across the transition between the Achaemenid and Seleukid empires. Although a number of Achaemenid and Seleukid institutions for land management had superficial similarities, they reflected divergent imperial problems and priorities. While the Achaemenid empire’s institutions of land management were designed to prevent the entrenchment of wealth and political power outside of the Great King’s influence, the Seleukids sought to tether powerful local institutions, such as the poleis of Western Asia Minor and the Babylonian temples, to their own political and economic fortunes through institutions for distributing land. The Seleukids, divested of their homeland of Makedonia and reliant on claims of conquest to their territory, had to reimagine imperial institutions to support a far more extensive program of colonization.
In addition, I am working on several articles on the ancient economy. In an article on public and sacred land-leasing at Hellenistic Thespiai, I draw on network analysis concepts to determine the socioeconomic status of lessees. By tying Thespians who lease public and sacred land to elite institutions within the polis, I establish that Thespian lessees were in fact elites, although they were not as wealthy as lessees of comparable land at Athens and Delos. A second article project catalogues and studies clay coin models, bringing together for the first time the Southern Italian and Babylonian evidence for this curious phenomenon. These objects represent a previously unrecognized means for ancient laborers to keep accounts without literacy in the local administrative language, vital to navigating polyglottal economies.
I am also working on a number of papyrological editions. Based on multispectral imaging performed by Brigham Young University’s Ancient Textual Imaging Group, I am drafting a new edition of P.Tebt. 210r, a Ptolemaic lease of royal land. The format of this contract borrowed elements from contemporary Demotic leases, producing an intriguing and perhaps unique hybrid contractual form. I am also preparing editions of several subliterary papyri from the Oxyrhynchus collection, including a new magical text and part of a commentary on the Iliad.