classical greece economy

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991. same period. Isager, S. and J.E. to seize slaves, and classical Mediterranean society maintained greater Trapezitikos concerns a lawsuit involving trade and banking. To ensure the demand for its silver, Athens took great care to maintain the reputation of its coinage for high quality and to associate that reputation with a familiar design that went unchanged for several centuries. A recent debate among scholars concerns the degree to which coinage was an economic or a political phenomenon in the ancient Greek world. Greece's main exports were olive oil, wine, pottery, and metalwork. For example, Finley drew too sharp a distinction between the interests of non-citizen (and, therefore, non-landowning) traders and the landed citizens who dominated Athenian government. Classical Greece was a period of around 200 years (5th and 4th centuries BC) in Greek culture. This is confirmed by the numerous metics in Athens who became wealthy and whose names we know, such as the bankers Pasion and Phormion and the shield-maker Cephalus, the father of the orator, Lysias. Metal crafts were highly specialized. Samuel, A.E. 90, Issue. groups simply lacked the time for some of the more elaborate sexual Pearson, 3-11. Kraay, editors. The distribution of finds of ancient pottery can, therefore, tell us the extent of trade in various goods. One talent was the equivalent of around nine year’s worth of wages for single skilled laborer working five days a week, 52 weeks a year, according to the wage rates we know from 377 B.C. Takes the new cultural history approach to analyzing the poetry of Pindar and how it represents money within the social and political value system of ancient Greece. The economy of ancient cultures, including both Greece and Rome, was based on agriculture. Provides both a survey of the subject and excerpts from the primary sources of evidence. There is enough evidence for slaves being freed to make us believe that manumission was not uncommon and many slaves could probably hope for freedom, even if most of them never actually obtained it. The aristocratic tenor of Greek society showed in the ambiguous position It also reflected widespread slavery, which reduced the need Archibald, Z.H., J. Davies, and G. Oliver. force these farmers to become tenants or laborers or to join the swelling Von Reden, S. “Money, Law, and Exchange: Coinage in the Greek Polis.” Journal of Hellenic Studies 107 (1997): 154-176. Relations between men and women in Greek society, at least in the aristocracy, On the other hand, the great temples of ancient Greece required much organization, many resources, and incredible technical skill. But here again Finley goes too far. landowning aristocracy, but they contributed to a number of political shifts Both Leslie Kurke and Sitta von Reden have argued that the advent of a monetized economy employing coinage need not have undermined traditional values or led to a disembedding of the economy. tongue when he was at home. At the same time there was a constant tendency for large landlords to money on their own. Pearson, H.W. Slaves existed, but not in such large numbers as to make the economy and society dependent on them. Greek society emphasized the importance of a tight family structure, with Slavery in Classical Greece. Public officials oversaw weights, measures, scales, and coinage to limit and resolve disputes in exchanges as well as to ensure state interests. Thus, prices were set according to local conditions and personal relationships rather than in accordance with the impersonal forces of supply and demand. Blacksmiths crafted body armor, shields, spears, swords, farm implements, and household utensils. Engen, D.T. They produced and exchanged goods both in local and long distance trade and had monetary systems to facilitate their exchanges. History of Greece: Classical Greece . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. London: Routledge, 2002. “Seeing the Forest for the Trees of the Ancient Economy.” Ancient History Bulletin, forthcoming(b). The Annual of the British School at Athens, Vol. While usually sufficient to support the population of ancient Greece, unpredictable rainfall made agriculture precarious and there is much evidence for periodic crop failures, shortages, and famines. arrangements. of California Press, 2009. grew immensely in scale. Comfort Level Easy. Abundant slave labor probably discouraged concern for more efficient economy. This places Greece in sharp contrast to most other ancient civilizations, in which governmental or religious institutions tended to dominate the economy. Peasants whose status lay somewhere between slave and free not only worked the king’s lands, but were also often required to labor on other royal projects. Among the most extensively manufactured products was clay pottery, the remains of which archaeologists have found scattered throughout the Mediterranean world. Mattingly, D.J. Tandy, D. Warriors into Traders: The Power of the Market in Early Greece. Despite its chronic shortages of silver coins and its closed coinage system, Egypt still had a coin-based economy largely because of Alexander the Great, who flooded the economies of the eastern Mediterranean with coins and monetized some places in the Near East for the first time. specialized banks and financial agents. , p. 325. Montreal: Black Rose, 2001. The price of wheat in Athens at the end of the fifth century was 3 drachmai per medimnos. The economy of ancient cultures, including both Greece and Rome, was based on agriculture. This was so in part because of the Greek socio-political emphasis on self-sufficiency (autarkeia), but also because the physical environment and industry of the eastern Mediterranean tended to produce similar goods, so that there were few items that a city-state needed which could not be obtained from within its own boundaries. Almost all produce from these estates was turned over to the government and redistributed for sale to the population. During the Mycenaean period, the ancient Greeks had primarily a Near Eastern style palace-controlled, redistributive economy, but this crumbled on account of violent disruptions and population movements, leaving Greece largely in the “dark” and the economy depressed for most of the next 300 years. Furthermore, it is always dangerous to attempt to extrapolate broad conclusions about the economy from a small number of finds, since we can never be sure if those finds are representative of larger phenomena or merely exceptional cases that archaeologists happened to stumble upon. Do good institutions—democracy and the rule of law—promote growth? Overall, the ancient Greek economy was very different from our own. Agricultural trade was of great importance because the soil in Greece was of poor quality which limited crop production. There was the relatively more liberal and democratic city of Athens, which was able to accommodate a thriving sphere of business and craft endeavors within a spontaneous order of social cooperation based on respect for and equality before the law. The former goal could be fulfilled by making laws that required or provided incentives for traders to bring grain into the city. Economic and Social History of Ancient Greece. Rather, the symbolic aspect of coinage could be manipulated to reinforce traditional social and religious practices that were non-economic in the modern sense. Large estate agriculture gained further momentum in the Hellenistic It is generally agreed that at the very least, bankers, who were metics as a rule (note Pasion and Phormion above), performed various functions from money-changing to securing deposits in cash and other assets. Finley believed that coinage was merely a tool designed to reinforce and project a city-state’s civic identity. Thus, one drachma could buy enough food for 16 days for one person, four days for a family of four. Many were war captives. Fisher, N.R.E. Some were enslaved for failure to pay debts, though this was outlawed in Athens in the early sixth century B.C. Their contribution to the economy was only to demand the surplus produce of the countryside, manufacture limited amounts of goods, and provide market places and ports of trade for the exchange of goods. aristocrats learn what must be learned to maintain culture or have the time to Social structure became States such as Athens inscribed honorary decrees for those who had done outstanding services for the state, including economic ones. Aristotle even argued that But - again in a common pattern - the Greek economy evolved, The same “muteness” that frees such evidence from human biases also makes it incapable of telling us who traded the goods, why they were traded, how they were traded, how much they cost, and how many middlemen they went through before reaching their find spots. There is little evidence that copper, the principal metal in bronze, was ever mined in abundance on mainland Greece. But technology designed to improve production cultivate political virtue? Traces developments in the economy of the Archaic period and argues that they had an important impact in the formation of the basic social and political institutions of the polis. the villages typical of other parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Moreover, inscriptions from the religious sanctuary of Delphi from the Hellenistic period show that slaves almost always had to compensate their owners for their freedom, either in the form of cash or some other valuable commodity, like their own children, who would also be slaves of the master and eventually replace their aging parents with young labor. We can choose to try to characterize the entire ancient Greek economy in general, to see the forest as it were, and debate whether it was more or less similar to our own. These terms are clearly normative in character so that essentially the argument was about whether the ancient Greek economy was like our “modern” economy, which was never carefully defined, but apparently assumed to be a free enterprise, capitalistic one with interconnected price-making markets. Although the ancient Greeks achieved a high degree of sophistication in their political, philosophical, and literary analyses and have, therefore, left us with a significant amount of evidence concerning these matters, few Greeks attempted what we would call sophisticated economic analysis. Those of poorer families might by necessity have to sell in the market place what little surplus produce their households could generate or perform service-oriented jobs for others for wages. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997. Most taxes were indirect: market taxes, port taxes, import-export taxes, and taxes on foreigners who took up long-term residence in Athens. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981. But although these speeches illuminate some aspects of ancient Greek contracts, loans, trade, and other economic activity, one must analyze them with care on account of the biases and distortions inherent in legal speeches. Ethnoarchaeology has also been used to show that Greek farmers in both ancient and modern times have had to be flexible in their responses to wide variations in local topographical and climatic conditions and, thus, varied their crops and fallowing regimes to a significant degree. Finley, M.I. It is notoriously difficult to estimate the population of Athens or any other Greek city-state in ancient times. farmers went into debt and often failed; aristocratic estate owners with more These two dialogues concern the organization of the polis. Pericles stated common beliefs about women when he noted, "For a was complicated by the fact that soil conditions were not ideal for grain About the only thing slaves did not normally do was military service, except in emergencies, when they did that too. From Athens to Alexandria: Hellenism and Social Goals in Ptolemaic Egypt. London: Duckworth, 1991. Millett, P. Lending and Borrowing in Ancient Athens. There was not much direct taxation in Ancient Greece. Heavily influenced by Weber, Hasebroek, and Polanyi. Greece’s fiscal and economic crisis has sharpened debates among economists, political scientists, and policymakers about political institutions and economic growth. In the last years, the country faced a severe … In light of the cautionary statements made earlier in this article about overgeneralization, it is important to note that great variation existed among the regions and city-states of the ancient Greek world, especially during the Classical period. the northern Middle East, Sicily, and North Africa. In 1968 the well-preserved wreck of a merchant ship from c. 300 B.C. Mediterranean than in Confucian China, but their standing was less firm than workers. The plays of Aristophanes, for example, make many references to economic activities, but such references are often characterized by stereotyping and exaggeration for comedic purposes. Hence, in comparison with agriculture, manufacturing comprised a small part of the ancient Greek economy. One aspect of ancient Greek slavery that is often cited as evidence for it being more “humane” than other slavery regimes is manumission. The Athenian economy twenty years after The ancient economy. After the bronze cooled the outer clay covering was broken off, leaving the cast bronze. Popular rebellions did not succeed in dislodging the The currency of money in Greece since January 2002 is the euro, which replaced the drachma.The preparation for the Olympic Games of 2004 gave an impulse to the Greek economy. Kim, H.S. Some close examinations of the various sectors of the ancient Greek economy in different places and at different times have supported Finley’s model in its general outlines. Because mainland Greece was so rocky and mountainous, discouraging easy grain The fact that they could use the coins independently of their original political context (and for what else besides economic purposes then?) (Now available in an “Updated Edition” with a foreword by Ian Morris. crowds of the urban lower class. Translated by L.M. Moreover, thousands of amphorae whose handles were stamped with names of issuing magistrates have been found that, if nothing else, reveal a very high volume of pottery production and may also allow scholars some day to reconstruct in more detail other aspects of the economy, such as agricultural production, land tenure, and trade patterns. In Athens the typical wage for a skilled laborer was one drachma per day at the end of the fifth century and two and a half drachmai in 377. It had to be imported from the island of Cyprus, where it existed in large quantities, and other more distant regions. But they have been matched by just as many studies that have revealed exceptions to the model. Technology was not applied as much as it might have been to increase production. The Spartan system Ancient Greece was a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to c. 5th centuries BC to the end of antiquity (c. 600 AD). With limited technology and no understanding of economies of scale, cities were not hubs of industry, and manufacturing existed only on a small scale. Given that the ancient Greeks did have a monetized economy, it is not surprising that they also developed banking and credit institutions. husband. Ancient Greek city-states, on the other hand, had an interest and involvement in what we would call economic activities (trade, minting coins, production, etc.) personality could command a major place within a household, and a free woman's growing, many city-states came to depend unusually heavily on seagoing trade Citation: Engen, Darel. Or we can focus in on the trees and undertake narrow studies of particular sectors of the ancient Greek economy at specific times and places. A host Essential listing of all discovered hoards of ancient Greek coins up to 1973. Although this is true for the most part, like other aspects of the Finley model, the case is overstated. Classical Greece - The Peloponnese, Attica & Athens. London, 1933. 1995. Skydsgaard. religious celebrations were largely separate from those of the upper classes. Greek architectural orders. B. that, like oikonomia on the household level, were consumptive in nature and fulfilled traditional social and political needs, not strictly economic ones. A cultural historical study of the representational uses of coinage in the social, political, and economic life of ancient Greece at the advent of the use of coinage. Boundary markers placed on land used as security for loans, called horoi, were often inscribed with the terms of the loans. The economy of ancient Greece was defined largely by the region's dependence on imported goods. Imports of basic foods were more extensive here than in India or empirical data. The Greek polis. Your Trailfinders travel consultant will be able to find the best flights to suit you and … willingly served as a hostage to help form an alliance with a more powerful The demand for them was high as they performed almost every kind of work imaginable from agricultural labor to mining labor to shop assistants to domestic labor even to serving as the police force and secretaries for the government in Athens. An ambitious work in its scope and subject matter, The Rise and Fall of Classical Greece is certainly an important contribution to classical studies. Especially useful is their “Guide to Further Reading,” pp. Long the standard survey of ancient Greek coinage. Besides war and conquest, in the Classical period, the Greeks produced great literature, poetry, philosophy, drama, and art. It is estimated that Athens had about 25,000 metics at its height and since they were barred from owning land, they engaged in banausic occupations that tended to be looked down upon by the free citizenry. people in 5th-century Athens 80,000 to 100,000 were slaves, while helots in At present the most widely accepted model of the ancient Greek economy is that which was first set forth by Moses Finley in 1973. example, annually gathered for a spring passion play to celebrate the recovery More widely, Hellenistic women began to take Morris, Ian. The latter, which is typical of economic analysis today, is appropriate only for market economies. A mural inspired by life under lockdown is gathering attention in the northern city of Drama, Greece, where the piece was painted on an apartment building. In Athens, a full day on the Acropolis and in the ancient Agora. The economic and social structure of classical Greece, including the colonies it sent out around the Mediterranean, had many features in common with other agricultural civilizations. Although the type of a Greek coin certainly expressed political symbols and could, therefore, serve as a political tool, such symbolism was largely lost on people who used the coins in places like Egypt, the Levant, Asia Minor, and Mesopotamia, where hoards of Greek coins have been found in abundance. London: Routledge, 2001. Various activities in the market place were also taxed by the state. Cartledge, P., E.E. Cattle, horses, and donkeys, though less numerous, were also significant. All in all, then, although the scale of the economy increased during the Hellenistic period, consumption still seems to have been the primary goal. On the other hand, slaves who worked in households assisting the matron of the family in her household tasks were probably treated much better as a rule. Upper-class boys and formed the most coherent single city-state theme in Greek politics. Unfortunately, the grip of the old parameters has been very strong and the debate has never completely freed itself from their influence. Schaps, David M. The Invention of Coinage and the Monetization of Ancient Greece. To convert to olives and grapes, Evidence from the Attic Orators indicates that during the Classical period overseas trade developed into a specialized and important sector of the economy. dependence on slavery than was true of Indian or Chinese civilizations in the The eisphorá tax was a tax on the wealth of the rich, but it was only collected when needed. History The roots of Greek religion. Saller. help explain the Greek attitude toward homosexuality. Some slaves even lived on their own and ran their owners’ businesses largely unsupervised. Classical Greece: The economy of Classical Ancient Greece was more complex, considering that the population greatly increased. Two great epic poems with much information about economic practices at the outset of the Archaic period, c. 800-750 B.C. Taxes were collected by companies of private tax farmers who bid on contracts issued by the state. Several volumes. Cohen, and L. Foxhall. In addition, many city-states included forms of dependent labor somewhere in between slave and free. Mediterranean even after the classical period had ended and the region The vase types indicate the goods they contained, such as olive oil, wine, or grain. Slavery also helps explain why Greece was not especially interested in property. Tourism provides 18% of GDP. Luxury products from The nature of the process naturally produced coins in which the image was often poorly centered on the flan. In addition, new varieties of wheat and the increased use of iron ploughs improved yield while better grape and olive presses facilitated wine and oil production. Some Politics in Classical Greece: The Nature of the Polis and the Origins of the Rule of Law Cover Page Footnote This article is based on a lecture delivered at the The Greeks Institute, a series of lectures presented to secondary school teachers in the Bridgeport Public Schools during the spring of 1989. Reinforces the Finley model by arguing that lending and borrowing was primarily for consumptive purposes and embedded among traditional communal values in Athens. interest in women and their conditions. Female metics and slaves did similar work and also comprised the majority of the prostitutes of Athens, which was a legal profession. The tie of the Greek monetary system to the supply of precious metals limited the ability of governments to influence their economies through the manipulation of their money supplies. routines of work. Liturgies also targeted large sums of wealth, and these taxes went to supporting public works. Unfortunately, some of the most impressive technological innovations of the Hellenistic period, such as Heron’s steam engine, were never applied in any significant way. The principal material they worked with was wool, but linen from flax was also common. Thus, the papyri include information about such things as taxes, government-controlled lands and labor, and the unique numismatic policies of the Ptolemies. for their own needs, except in the early period before civilization fully Both literary accounts and material remains, however, indicate that there was a certain amount of specialization. But again, Finley was probably right to argue that during the Archaic and Classical periods the vast majority of economic activity was left untouched by government and carried out by private individuals. will richly reward a serious lay reader. With few exceptions (Sparta being the most famous), the Greeks of the Classical period had a thoroughly monetized economy employing coinage whose value was based on precious metals, principally silver. 1994. The helots of Sparta were agricultural serfs, indigenous peoples conquered by the Spartans and forced to work their former lands for their Spartan overlords. Lastly, Finley’s model is synchronic and hardly acknowledges changes in both the quantity and the quality of the economy over time. praised as a means of training the young in practical wisdom. Ancient Greek city-states regulated the economic activities that took place in their markets to a certain degree. It particularly resembled other The Classical Age of Greece ends with the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C. Given, however, the fact that Athens is the best documented and most studied place in ancient Greek history, the various sectors of the ancient Greek economy during the Classical period will be discussed primarily as they existed in Athens, despite the fact that it was in many ways exceptional. The availability of cheap slaves was a major factor in Greek attitudes toward labor and may also explain why there were no labor unions in Greece. Being only 35 feet long and 15 feet wide with a capacity of 30 tons, it is probably the kind of merchant vessel that made short hauls and kept within sight of the coastline. Correspondingly, while Greece developed many craft products, As stated above, the ancient Greek economy has been the subject of a long-running debate that continues to this day. Glencoe, IL: Free Press, 1957. Older men sometimes took Interdisciplinary analysis of a massive amount of information on a wide variety of aspects of the ecology of ancient Greece. By the terms of his will, Pasion in turn manumitted his own slave assistant, Phormion, and not only left him his bank, but also stipulated that Phormion marry his widow and manage the inheritance of his son, Apollodorus. Ancient Greek civilization flourished from around 776 to 30 B.C. Other cultural divisions complicated Greek society. Ancient Greek Agriculture: An Introduction. younger men as partners, a practice which the philosopher Plato and others to death. White, K.D. For how could wage-earners pressure their employers for better conditions or wages when the latter could always replace them with slaves if necessary? Sparta, goods. The Archaeology of Ancient Greece provides a synthesis of research on the material culture of Greece in the Archaic and Classical periods (1000–300 BC). Finley’s model has had a great impact on those who study the ancient Greek economy and is still widely accepted today. Rostovtzeff, M. The Social and Economic History of the Hellenistic World. London: Routledge, 2001. Morris, Ian. The word economy is Greek. Given the remoteness of ancient Greek civilization, the evidence is minimal and difficulties of interpretation abound. Ancient Greece, an introduction. In addition to chattel slavery, there were other forms of dependent labor in the ancient Greek world. It was much smaller in scale and differed in quality as well, since it generally lacked the productive growth mentality and the interconnected markets that are so characteristic of most of the world economy today. The Ancient Economy. It is first necessary to distinguish between the public and private sectors of the economy. On the other hand, Despite the general absence of interconnected markets, however, there were market places. production of olives and grapes for cooking oil and wine making spread widely. “Greek Trade, Industry, and Labor.” In Civilization of the Ancient Mediterranean: Greece and Rome, volume 2, edited by M. Grant and R. Kitzinger, 723-51. operations, although working conditions were appallingly bad. In addition, confusion arose over whether the ancient Greek economy was like a modern economy in quantity (scale) or quality (its organizing principles). Indirect taxation was very well developed though not in all cities. It takes a synchronic approach to the Greek and Roman economies and argues that they cannot be analyzed or understood in terms appropriate for modern economic analysis. Useful is their “ Guide to further Reading, ” the two words are not.! That attempts to adjust the Finley model does at least in this sector of the Greek! Estimate the population finely painted vases were also manufactured for decorative and ritual purposes were used in turn in ancient. Great Literature, poetry, philosophy, drama, mathematics, grams, inequalities! Some of the most important aspect of the economy of ancient historians slavery also helps explain Greece. 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