Eline Scheerlinck


I am a PhD student in Greek and Coptic Papyrology at Leiden University. I studied Classics at Ghent University, Belgium, where I also successfully defended a PhD thesis in the field of History of the Humanities. In order to return to working with ancient documents, I went to Leiden to pursue the Egyptology research Master program. Within this program, I have focused on acquiring the necessary knowledge and skills to study, read and edit papyri in Greek and Egyptian (Coptic and Demotic) language.

I am co-organizor of the conference ‘Late Antique Religion in Practice: Papyri and the Dynamics of Religious Identification’, held by the Leiden Papyrology+ Group in November 2017. I previously worked at the Leiden Papyrological Institute, as an assistant in the preparation of the “Berichtigungsliste der Griechischen Papyrusurkunden aus Ägypten”.


My research is a part of the ERC funded project “Embedding Conquest: Naturalising Muslim Rule in the Early Islamic Empire (600-1000)”. Under the supervision of Petra Sijpesteijn, I study Coptic and Greek papyri which illuminate the social relationships between elites and members of the local communities and between elites and the government. I focus on issues concerning fugitives, in particular tax fugitives. When it came to the payment of taxes – an important aspect of the relationship between empire and subjects – the municipal authorities were responsible for collecting taxes for the government. Moreover, the evidence shows people with means acting as surety for other members of the community to ensure that all taxes were paid. The documentary texts on ostraca and papyri show that the clerical and non-clerical elites intervene in their communities through financial and legal protection. Starting from the Coptic so-called “logos mpnoute” documents, protection letters allowing fugitives to return home and to receive a certain amount of protection from punishment or prosecution, my project will question these and related  documents in order to gain a better understanding of the social cohesion in early Islamic Egypt, the interaction with the state, the “self-regulation” of the local communities and the role played by the local elites therein.

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