Primary field of interest:
François is a 5th year PhD Candidate in the History Department at Yale, specializing in Ancient History, in particular the Hellenistic period. He is now writing his dissertation on the foundation of cities in Ptolemaic Egypt, provisionally titled The “Glory of the City:” Cities and City-Foundations under the Ptolemies (305-30 B.C.). Previous scholarship has emphasized the bureaucratic and agrarian nature of the Ptolemaic state, focusing on the policy of allotting Greek soldiers (the cleruchs) cultivable land in the newly reclaimed areas. Yet two bodies of primary sources, an inscription discovered in 1979 in the region of Mersin, Turkey, and papyri from the collections at the universities of Trier and Cologne, suggest a different approach to Ptolemaic state formation: they attest to the foundation of two new Greek cities, Arsinoe in Cilicia in the 3rd century and Euergetis in the Herakleopolite nome in the 2nd century. Although both foundations ended up as failures, Arsinoe and Euergetis bear witness to the attention given by the Ptolemies to urban settlement specifically and, more generally, they raise questions about the value of cities for Hellenistic states. Placing further Ptolemaic urban development in the wider context of Hellenistic city foundations and the royal economy of the Ptolemies—both long-term topics of scholarly enquiry (Droysen’s hellenistische Stadtgründungen and Préaux’s économie royale)—François’ dissertation combines the analysis of documentary texts (papyri and inscriptions) with due attention to archeological data as well as geographical context to provide a comprehensive study of city foundations under the Ptolemies.
François first got interested in Greek history and archaeology during his studies at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, where he received a Master’s Degree from Paris Panthéon Sorbonne University in Ancient History. His Master’s thesis analyzed the corpus of Ptolemaic papyri of slave and animal slaves. At Yale, he has continued to explore these interests, together with training in ancient Egyptian languages (Demotic and Coptic). He has taught a variety of courses as a Teaching Fellow, primarily in Ancient History and Classics, but also in the emergent field of the History of Food. Together with Prof. J. Manning he developed and taught a lecture course on Ancient Empires in the Fall Semester of 2014. In addition, he contributes to the vast scholarly undertaking known as papyrology, having published Greek papyri (e.g., in 2014, “Vente d’une ânesse par ses copropriétaires.” Archiv für Papyrusforschung und verwandte Gebiete 60 (2): 384–87). He spent the summer semester of 2016 at the University of Freiburg, Germany, with the generous support of a DAAD fellowship, where he enjoyed the opportunity of sharing and conducting his research with colleagues in the field.