Alain Bresson

Biography and Interests: 

Alain Bresson

Title: Robert O. Anderson Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Classics and Department of History
Education: Doctorat d'État Besançon 1994
Office: Wieboldt 405
Areas of Specialization: Ancient economy, Asia Minor, epigraphy, numismatics

My current research is focused on the ancient economy. In terms of data, I use all the documents available (literary sources, inscriptions, papyri, coins, archaeological data) to investigate a given topic relating to the ancient economy.  My research is developed in the framework both of the standard categories of economics (capital, labor, technological level) and of the New Institutional Economics paradigm, with a special interest in the evolution of institutions as a major factor of economic development.

With David Schloen, Glen Weyl and Gary Herrigel, I have organized in the framework of the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society the “Working Group on Comparative Economics”.

In collaboration with François Velde (Chicago) and Elio Lo Cascio (Rome), I am preparing as co-editor a New Oxford Handbook for the Economies of the Ancient World. I am also writing a book on the logic of coinage in the ancient world (Why coinage?) to be published by Oxford University Press.

I also publish regularly on the history, epigraphy and numismatics of various regions of the ancient world, especially Asia Minor. In collaboration with Askold Ivantchik I am preparing a new corpus of the inscriptions of Phrygian Apameia.

I chaired the Department of Classics from July 1st 2011 to June 30 2014.

Recent Publications: 

Full List of Publications


  • 2016. The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy: Institutions, Markets, and Growth in the City-States. Princeton University Press. Translated by Steven Randall.



  • “Women and Inheritance in Ancient Sparta: the Gortynian Connection.” Studi Ellenistici 30, 2016: 9–68.
  • “The Cost of Getting Money in Early Ptolemaic Egypt: the Case of Pap.Cair.Zen. I 59021 (258 BCE).” In D. Kehoe, D. M. Ratzan, and U. Yiftach, eds. 2015. Transactions Costs in the Ancient Economy: University of Michigan Press, 118–144.
  • “Capitalism and the Ancient Greek economy.” In L. Neal and J. Williamson, eds. 2014. The Cambridge History of Capitalism. Vol. 1. The Rise of Capitalism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 43–74.



  • Autumn Quarter: ”State and Society under the Ptolemies” (co-taught with Brian Muhs, NELC).
  • Winter Quarter: 1) “Greek Epigraphy: Private and Public Inscriptions of the Greek City-States.” 2) “The Athenian Empire.”
  • Spring Quarter: Athens Study Abroad Program.