Emily Mackil

Professor of History

Director, Graduate Group in Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology

I am currently working on a book on property in the ancient Greek world. I explore Greek ideas about the nature and proper social functions of private property, which recognize private property as an instrument for material self-sufficiency that enmeshed the owner in a web of social obligations and endowed him with significant forms of social power. This way of thinking about property as a profoundly and inextricably social phenomenon runs counter to the prevailing modern notion of property, inherited in slightly different versions from the utilitarian and contractarian philosophical traditions,  which focuses exclusively on the owner and his control over valuable goods. Recovering Greek conceptions of property as a social phenomenon invites us to examine both the informal norms and the formal institutions that governed property in Greek states, to see how practices correlated to ideas. I argue that private property functioned as a crucial instrument in regulating the fraught relationship between individual and community in Greek states, which can be seen in the construction of citizenship and its obligations and in its inverse, the confiscation of property from citizens in processes of disenfranchisement and expulsion. Finally, I consider the implications of this publicly oriented private-property regime for the nature and development of the Greek economy. 

My first book, Creating a Common Polity (Berkeley, 2013), explores the origin, development, and nature of the so-called Greek federal state, the koinon, through in-depth analysis of evidence from Boiotia, Achaia, and Aitolia. I argue that in these cases political federation, which entailed the partial sacrifice of autonomy by independent city-states, originated as a formalization of older patterns of cooperation and interdependence in the religious and economic spheres. Over time, I suggest, the involvement of these regional states in the economic practices of their individual citizens and constituent communities developed to enhance the economic integration of the region and to promote regional economic welfare. Religion was not a primitive context for community-building, but rather a vital mechanism for legitimizing the regional state and for maintaining its cohesiveness in the face of challenges, threats, and historical changes. Varieties in the distribution of political power among the states studied here, as well as changes occurring over time, point toward one of the most important political features of strong and successful federal states in Greek antiquity. It was vital that member poleis and koinon hold one another accountable for breaches made in the federal bargain, the agreement about how power was to be distributed among them. In a series of articles I have written about matters related to the federal experience, from detailed epigraphic studies to analyses of the relationship between ethnic identity and the formation of federal states.  


PhD, Princeton University, 2003 (Classics)
BA, University of Oxford, 1997 (Literae Humaniores)
BA, St. John's College, 1994 

External Fellowships & Grants

American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, 2012-2013.

Loeb Classical Library Foundation Grant, Harvard University, 2008, 2012.

National Endowment for the Humanities, Summer Stipend, 2005.

Whiting Honorific Fellowship in the Humanities, 2002-2003.

Fulbright-IIE Full Grant to Greece, 2000-2001.

Professional Service

Series co-editor (with James Ker), Social Structures of the Greco-Roman World, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012-2019.

Committee on Ancient History, American Philological Association, 2010-2013.

Managing Committee, American School of Classical Studies in Athens, 2008-


"Creating a Common Polity" by Emily Mackil

Creating a Common Polity: Religion, Economy, and Politics in the Making of the Greek KoinonBerkeley, 2013. Winner of the Charles J. Goodwin Award of Merit from the Society for Classical Studies, 2016.

Greek Epigraphy and Religion: Papers in Memory of Sara B. Aleshire from the Second North American Congress of Greek and Latin Epigraphy. Leiden, 2021.


"Regionalism, Federalism, and Mediterranean Connectivity." In S. von Reden, ed. 2022. The Cambridge Companion to the Ancient Greek Economy. Cambridge.

"The Classical Period." In  S. von Reden, ed. 2022. The Cambridge Companion to the Ancient Greek Economy. Cambridge. 

"Assessing the Scale of Property Confiscation in the Ancient Greek World" forthcoming in M. Lavan, D. Jew, and B. Danon, eds. 2021. The Uncertain Past: Probability in Ancient History. Cambridge.

“Confiscation, Exile, and Return: The Property Problem and its Legal Solutions.” In Symposion 2019: Vorträge zur Griechischen und hellenistischen Rechtsgeschichte, edited by Kaja Harter-Uibopuu and Werner Riess. Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften (2021).

"Economic and Social Democracy." in P. Cartledge and C. Atack, eds. 2021. The Cultural History of Democracy Volume I: Antiquity. London, 77-94.

"Ethnic Arguments." in H. Beck, K. Buraselis, and A. McAuley, eds. 2019. Ethnos and Koinon: Studies in Ancient Greek Ethnicity and Federalism. Stuttgart, 11-28.

"Property Security and its Limits in Classical Greece." Ancient Greek History and Contemporary Social Science, edited by M. Canevaro et al., Edinburgh, 2018, 315-343.

“Property Claims and State Formation in the Archaic Greek World,” in C. Ando and S. Richardson, eds., 2017. Ancient States and Infrastructural Power: Europe, Asia, and America. Philadelphia, 63-90.

"Propiedad, deuda y revolución en la Grecia antigua" in M. Campagno, J. Gallego, and C.G. MacGaw, eds., 2017. Capital, deuda, y desigualidad: Distribuciones de la riqueza en el Mediterráneo antiguo. Buenos Aires, 27-53. 

"The Economics of Federation in Ancient Greece" in H. Beck & P. Funke, eds., 2015. Greek Federal States. Cambridge, 487-502.

"The Greek Polis and Koinon" in A. Monson and W. Scheidel, eds2015. Fiscal Regimes and the Political Economy of Premodern States, 469-491. Cambridge, 469-491.

"Ethnos and Koinon" in J. McInerney, ed. 2014. A Companion to Ethnicity in the Ancient Mediterranean. Oxford270–284.

"Creating a Common Polity in Boeotia" in N. Papazarkadas, ed., 2014. The Epigraphy and History of Boeotia: New Finds, New Prospects. Leiden45–67.

“The Greek Koinon,” in P. Bang and W. Scheidel, edd., 2012. The Oxford Handbook of the Ancient State: Near East and Mediterranean. Oxford, 304-323.

“A Boiotian Proxeny Decree and Relief in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Boiotian-Lakonian Relations in the 360s.” Chiron. Mitteilungen der Kommission für Alte Geschichte und Epigraphik des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts. 38 (2008) 157-194.

Coauthor with P. van Alfen, “Cooperative Coinage,” in P. van Alfen, ed. 2006. Agoranomia: Studies in Money and Exchange Presented to John H. Kroll. New York, 201-246.

“Wandering Cities: Alternatives to Catastrophe in the Greek Polis,”American Journal of Archaeology 108.4 (2004): 493-516.

Portrait of Professor Emily Mackil


2312 Dwinelle Hall


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