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Document Details :
Title: The Black Market in Oil in Ptolemaic Egypt
Author(s): DOGAER, Nico
Journal: Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists
Volume: 58 Date: 2021
A prominent feature of Ptolemaic fiscal policy was the 'state' or 'royal monopoly' on the production and sale of vegetable oils. As outlined in the so-called 'Revenue Laws', the entire supply chain of these commodities was controlled by the government, and in theory the oils reached consumers only through licensed traders, to whom the government awarded local monopolies. In practice, however, numerous papyri deal with the smuggling and illegal sale of vegetable oils. Although the volume of black market trade is impossible to quantify, it is clear that oil smuggling and illegal oil sales took place on a considerable scale in Ptolemaic Egypt. In this article, the nature, organization, and scale of these illegal activities are assessed, as well as the motivations and incentives for participating in the black market.