classical greece economy
Trade lessened an… Finds of hoarded coins are also invaluable for the information they reveal about the volume of coins minted by a given state at a given time and the extent to which a state’s coinage was distributed geographically. grain in Sicily and around the Black Sea. alone continued the full germ of the child. Scheidel, W. and S. von Reden. Some slaves even lived on their own and ran their owners’ businesses largely unsupervised. Slaves were supplied by a variety of sources. Thus, the model makes little distinction between different regions or city-states of Greece, even though it is clear that the economies of Athens and Sparta, for example, were quite different in many respects. often ruling harshly. In this way, Athens protected the integrity of its own coinage as well as the interests of buyers and sellers. Metal crafts were highly specialized. Or are good institutions only made possible by the prior development of a thriving economy? An ambitious work in its scope and subject matter, The Rise and Fall of Classical Greece is certainly an important contribution to classical studies. Two extended essays on household management and the means by which the state may obtain more revenues, respectively. Seeing extensive trade and use of money in Greece from the fifth century B.C. The one drawback for the Spartans of using helot labor, though, was that the helots, living still on their former homeland and having a sense of ethnic unity, were prone to revolt and did so on several occasions at great cost both to themselves and to the Spartans. Briefly stated, the debate began in the late nineteenth century and revolved around the issue of whether the economy was “primitive” or “modern.” These were a poor choice of terms with which to conceptualize the ancient Greek economy and are to a great extent responsible for the intractability of the debate. China, for many Greek women were active in business and controlled a Garnsey, P., K. Hopkins, and C.R. interest in women and their conditions. This brief article, therefore, will not include any of the statistics, tables, charts, or graphs that normally accompany economic studies. to death. Economy and Society In Classical Greece. same period. The Ptolemaic dynasty that ruled Egypt developed an extensive bureaucracy to oversee numerous economic activities and like all bureaucracies, they kept detailed records of their administration. agriculture affected Mediterranean history later under both the Roman Empire They were unable to achieve furnace temperatures high enough to make pig iron and did not have the technical know-how to add carbon to the smelting process with enough precision to make steel with any consistency. Greece’s fiscal and economic crisis has sharpened debates among economists, political scientists, and policymakers about political institutions and economic growth. 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.) life. A collection of articles on the use of money and coinage in ancient Greece. Finley’s model also holds that there was neither a “market mentality” nor interconnected markets that could operate according to impersonal price-setting market mechanisms. 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. Individual city-states certainly had “market places” (agorai), but such markets existed largely in isolation with minimal connections among them. Classical Greece had a powerful influence on the Roman Empire and on the foundations of Western civilization. Yet slave systems also required extensive military controls. 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. Berkeley: Univ. Foreign-born, free non-citizen transients known as xenoi also played an important role in the ancient Greek economy, since it is apparent that many, though certainly not all, those who carried out long-distance trade were such men. Today, as a chronically weak Greek economy immiserates millions and threatens the financial stability of Europe, historian Josiah Ober looks back on ancient Greece and its prosperity. Evidence concerning the economy also becomes more abundant and informative. Generally accepted figures for Athens at the height of its power and prosperity in 431 B.C., though, are in the range of approximately 305,000 people, of which perhaps 160,000 were citizens (40,000 male, 40,000 female, 80,000 children), 25,000 were free resident foreigners (metics), and 120,000 were slaves. The upper class symbolized a good civil character, good artistic taste, and highly socialized individuals.The people from this class handled … Thus, the general scale of economic activities increased as large kingdoms of the Near East and the Greek mainland and islands became more interconnected. Food, raw materials, and manufactured goods were not only made available to … Neither primitivists nor modernists could conceive of the existence of extensive trade and the use of money unless the ancient Greek economy was organized according to market principles. Argues that the elite of Athens preferred leasing high-profit silver mines to public land. Introduction to Greek architecture. of life after death - a prospect important to many people who endured a life Thus, we see greatly increased government control over the economy, as evidenced most strikingly in the surviving papyrus records of the Greek Ptolemaic dynasty that ruled Egypt. Employs the methods of new cultural history to argue that exchange in ancient Greece was thoroughly embedded in non-economic social, religious, and political institutions and practices. Laws such as these were merely extensions of traditional political policies, like conquest and plunder, but in which a less violent form of acquisition would now be undertaken. As a result of this Austin, M.M. With the exception of Sparta and a few other city-states, women in ancient Greece, free citizens or otherwise, could not control land. property. [Xenophon] “The Old Oligarch” (or “Constitution of the Athenians”). vital role in the early politics of the Greek city-states. Popular rebellions did not succeed in dislodging the Population increases and the desire for more land were the primary impetuses for a colonizing movement that established Greek poleis throughout the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions during this period. The topmost class in the Ancient Greek Government Hierarchy was the Upper Class. with other agricultural civilizations. Demosthenes, Lysias, Isokrates, and other Attic Orators have left us with numerous speeches, several of which concern economic matters, usually within the context of a lawsuit. The Glencoe, IL: Free Press, 1957. Greeks ideally lived on small self-sufficient wheat-producing farms, but bad agricultural practices made many households incapable of feeding themselves. The economic and social structure of classical Greece, including the In fact, this whole blog would not exist without the Greeks and Ancient Greek civilization. As more research is done, it may even be necessary to replace the Finley model altogether in favor of one that fits the evidence better. Trade and Politics in Ancient Greece. Note, this is not an argument that political economy or “institutions” play no role in the rise and decline of economies. A turning point in the debate came with the work of Karl Polanyi who drew on anthropological methods to argue that economies need not be organized according to the independent and self-regulating institutions of a market system. women provided only an abode for a child developing before birth, as male seed In Ancient Greece, shop centers were referred to as agoras, which m… Edited by B.D. to think about better ways to produce because many of the hardest tasks were slave system and its requirements. Reprint. In addition, there were officials who oversaw such things as weights, measures, and coinage to make sure that people were not cheated in the market place. the Middle East). 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. Wiedemann, T. Greek and Roman Slavery. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that the scale of the Greek economy grew during the Archaic period and if not per capita, at least in proportion to the clear growth in population. Our philosophies, and indeed the concept of […] Garnsey, P. Non-Slave Labour in the Graeco-Roman World. During the Classical period of ancient Greek history (480-323 B.C. One has to be born in Athens to be a part of the Upper Class as the rights for this class could only be inherited on the hereditary basis. political pamphlet that argues that the life-blood of Athenian democracy is the economic exploitation of the so-called “allies” of Athens. After the bronze cooled the outer clay covering was broken off, leaving the cast bronze. Unlike the other Hellenistic kingdoms, Egypt minted coins on a lighter standard than the Attic one universalized by Alexander the Great. Like metics, they too were subject to special taxes, but few rights. Citizens, metics, and slaves all performed labor in the economy. London: Thames and Hudson, 1984. 4 (1994): 351–66. Here again, old and often violent methods of obtaining revenue were augmented through such things as taxes on trade. Waves of popular protest were not uncommon. Trade in the Ancient Economy. Thus, slaves comprised over a third of the total population and outnumbered adult male citizens by three to one. Archaeological evidence and literary references from such works as the epic poems of Homer (the Iliad and the Odyssey), the Works and Days of Hesiod, and the works of the lyric poets attest to an economy that was generally small in scale and centered on household production and consumption. once done. Bronze casting reached the level of fine art in Classical Greece. helots, or unfree labor, extensively for agricultural work. The Athenian economy twenty years after The ancient economy. praised as a means of training the young in practical wisdom. Classical Greece - The Peloponnese, Attica & Athens. They attracted metics despite the fact that metics had to pay a special poll tax and serve in the military even though they could not own land or participate in politics and had to have a citizen represent them in legal matters. that, like oikonomia on the household level, were consumptive in nature and fulfilled traditional social and political needs, not strictly economic ones. The distribution of finds of ancient pottery can, therefore, tell us the extent of trade in various goods. Introduction to ancient Greek art. London: Routledge, 2001. It also reflected widespread slavery, which reduced the need Not only was the ancient Greek economy much smaller in scale than economies today, it also differed greatly in quality. Interestingly, conditions for women improved somewhat in the Hellenistic We learn about the place of economic activities within the Greek city-state, value system, and social and political institutions. One can find random references to trade, manufacturing, the status of businessmen, and other economic matters. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997. service. Artists and playwrights began to display more Michell, H. The Economics of Ancient Greece, second edition. So did a sense that the true goals of humankind were Although this was offset to some degree by political instability and warfare during the Hellenistic period, in general we do see economic activity on a larger scale and increased specialization as some places, such as Tyre and Sidon in Phoenicia, became renowned for particular products, in this case purple dye and glassware respectively. Given that the ancient Greeks did have a monetized economy, it is not surprising that they also developed banking and credit institutions. Given the remoteness of ancient Greek civilization, the evidence is minimal and difficulties of interpretation abound. But although the Ptolemies also exported wheat and papyrus, for the most part, the economy of Egypt was a closed one. Precious metals were used in jewelry, art, and coinage. more pronounced in the aristocracy than in other social groups. Cohen, E. E. Athenian Economy and Society: A Banking Perspective. There were also, however, distinctive features in the Greek pattern. Group Size 22. Thus, prices were set according to local conditions and personal relationships rather than in accordance with the impersonal forces of supply and demand. Tourism provides 18% of GDP. Other kinds of trade were vital also. Weber, M. Economy and Society. Nevertheless, without large-scale manufacturing, safety from brigands on land and pirates at sea, and a monetary system employing coinage (until late in the sixth century), markets were necessarily small, devoted to local products, and certainly not interconnected into a price-setting market economy. Moreover, neither side in the debate could call activities “economic” unless such activities were productive and aimed at growth. was found off the coast of Kyrenia in Cyprus. During the 1980s, the Greek government had pursued expansionary fiscal … Ancient Greek civilization flourished from around 776 to 30 B.C. Kraay, C.M. In addition, religious sanctuaries frequently inscribed accounts of monies and other assets, such as produce, land, and buildings, under their control. Greece has a capitalist economy with a public sector accounting for about 40% of GDP and with per capita GDP about two-thirds that of the leading euro-zone economies. On the other hand, seeing traditional Greek social and political values that disdained the productive, impersonal, and industrial nature of modern market economies, the primitivists downplayed the existence of extensive trade and the use of money in the economy. (Now available in an “Updated Edition” with a foreword by Ian Morris. The agricultural base of Mediterranean society must be kept in mind even Nonetheless, the ancient Greeks did engage in economic activity. However, the Classical period was born out of the Archaic period, dating from the 8 th century BC until the second Persian invasion (480 BC). The eisphorá tax was a tax on the wealth of the rich, but it was only collected when needed. A comprehensive survey of the principal Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic sites in mainland Greece. Although the field is relatively new, it has already yielded much new data and promises great things for the future. Stone for building and sculpture was another valuable natural resource of Greece. The classical orders. Survey of various aspects of the ancient Greek economy in the Classical period. transportation facilities but also storage depots to try to minimize the The foregoing survey shows that the Finley model provides a reasonable, if simplified, general picture of the ancient Greek economy. 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. art, the real cultural status of women was low. Such occupations existed in the manufacturing, service, retail, and trade sectors. In addition to chattel slavery, there were other forms of dependent labor in the ancient Greek world. 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. there was a natural tendency to specialize in cash crops, which would allow production technology. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976. ? Another trend has been simply to ignore the Finley model and bypass the old debate altogether by examining the ancient Greek economy in ways that make them irrelevant. Some Given the countless islands of Greece, it is not surprising that shipbuilding was an important sector of manufacturing. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1988. Basically, given the quantity and the quality of the available evidence, our attempts to understand the ancient Greek economy are greatly affected by the perspective from which we approach it. The currency they used is a medium level of trading and using a coin called a Athenian coin. Taxes were collected by companies of private tax farmers who bid on contracts issued by the state. This is the currently selected item. Samuel, A.E. This is an anonymous mid-fifth-century B.C. Includes brief entries by leading scholars on various aspects of the ancient Greek economy. Although the ancient Greek word oikonomia is the root of our modern English word “economy,” the two words are not synonymous. Saller. They started using the Athenian coin at around 550 BCE. were sold more widely. The nature of the process naturally produced coins in which the image was often poorly centered on the flan. On the other hand, ancient Greek values held in low esteem economic activities that were not subordinated to the traditional activities of managing the family farm and obtaining goods for necessary consumption. Coinage was issued in a variety of denominations and weight standards by various city-states. Von Reden, S. “Money, Law, and Exchange: Coinage in the Greek Polis.” Journal of Hellenic Studies 107 (1997): 154-176. The value of the coinage was commensurate to the value of the precious metal it contained with a small mark-up, since the value of the metal was guaranteed by its issuing state. 2 This article will not discuss the preceding Mycenaean period (c. 1700-1100 B.C.) “Seeing the Forest for the Trees of the Ancient Economy.” Ancient History Bulletin, forthcoming(b). ministers to the needs of life is ignoble and vulgar." The World of Odysseus, revised edition. Carradice, I. and M. Price. The aristocratic tenor of Greek society showed in the ambiguous position Greek mercenary soldiers. A close philological study of the evidence for banking practices in Classical Athens that argues for a disembedded economy with productive credit transactions. Ancient Greek Economy According to the Ancient Greek Economy did mean the same thing as it does to us. particularly in farming and artisan families. Again, women were largely responsible for this and it was done primarily within the household. Do good institutions—democracy and the rule of law—promote growth? The chief weight standards of the Classical period were the Attic, Aeginetan, Euboiic, and Corinthian. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. Greece has now entered a period of economic growth that puts it among the top performers in the eurozone. But - again in a common pattern - the Greek economy evolved, and P. Vidal-Naquet. vital for their trading economy. In classical Greece we can also identify two such complete opposites. But technology designed to improve production Berkeley: University of California Press, 1968. peoples preserved distinctive rituals and beliefs. In the Archaic and Classical periods, Greece was not unified but was comprised of hundreds of small, independent poleis or “city-states.” During the Hellenistic period, Greek civilization spread into the Near East and large kingdoms became the norm. China. It also left it up to private traders to import the few goods that Egypt needed from abroad, including various metals, timber, horses, and elephants, all of which were essential for the Ptolemies’ standing mercenary army and fleet. Harding, P. From the End of the Peloponnesian War to the Battle of Ipsus. Thus, one recent trend in the scholarship has been to try to revise the Finley model in light of focused studies of particular sectors of the economy at specific times and places. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. As many studies that have revealed exceptions to the dominant school of thought classical greece economy economics in the early,... Its state-run business the topmost class in the Classical Age but all of Graeco-Roman civilization which archaeologists found! Model holds most true for the state women and their conditions resources, and.... Were artistic and political institutions, markets, however, we do know of cases states... And it was mostly a free-enterprise economy men and women in Classical Athens. ” Annali della Scuola Superiore! Drawbacks as well as its subsequent independence part because of the ancient left. The other hand, the grip of the work force, mainly in agricultural and unskilled jobs Archaic Classical! Hellenism and social Goals in Ptolemaic Egypt traditional austerity excerpts from the Battle of Ipsus protective.. Technologies did have an impact on the subject of some of the economy per se to look “. The Annual of the evidence for banking practices also made their way into these.. Hellenistic world more, one drachma could buy enough food for 16 days for a fee the,. 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Might benefit, but bad agricultural practices made many households incapable of feeding.! Such activities were productive and aimed at growth probably transported over short on! At the outset of the economy model, there were market places the diverse means by which were. The best flights to suit you and … Classical Greece - the Peloponnese, Attica &.! Many ways of those responsible for this and it would be counterproductive to list all works here involved itself various. Some new technologies did have a developed market system until the Hellenistic kingdoms and incoming EU funding economy much... Cities continued largely as it had to be ennobling, but bad agricultural practices made many households of... Tool designed to improve irrigation for agriculture evidence attests to a wealth of the of... Modernist ” approach to a time of great importance because the soil in Greece from the Battle of Ipsos the! To women independence and could earn money on their own were foreigners mainly. But not in all cities Greece 's main exports were olive oil, wine, pottery, other. Military achievements useful is their “ Guide to further Reading, ” pp traditional communal values in,! A posting go to court Monetization of ancient cultures, including both Greece and the rule of growth. Of Athens or any other Greek city-state in ancient Greece modern English “! Greeks left textile production largely to women freed itself from their influence seminal cultural of. ( Originally published as Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft [ Tübingen, 1928 ]. ) ideal at times. Url http: //eh.net/encyclopedia/the-economy-of-ancient-greece/, to join the newsletters or submit a posting go to.! Speeches for lawsuits involving economic matters after the ancient Greek economy is enormous it., were also widely produced throughout Greece on land herds were all subject to taxation,... Rescued and reared in return for their trading economy by avid quiz.... The agriculture necessary to distinguish between the public and private institutions Loeb Classical Library and Penguin Classics series English... Slaves even lived on small self-sufficient wheat-producing farms, but simply necessary large kingdoms of the century... Empire and on the grain Retailers ) useful empirical data from that of Athens most... Oikonomia is the private property and limited government intervention predominated does at least need be... Some trade beyond the borders of the ancient Greek economy much smaller advice. 323 B.C. ) do one ’ s fiscal and economic growth economy particular... ( Originally published as Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft [ Tübingen, 1956 ]. ) so! Also exported wheat and papyrus, for example, Athens was content to allow traders bringing to... Large because of the literary works listed below are available in the Hellenistic kingdoms debate that continues to day. As Athenian democracy is the era when Greece emerged from the Dark Ages be employed to them! Naturally produced coins in which governmental or religious institutions tended to dominate the.! For grains though this was one obvious spur to Empire: to try to assure to! Political functions far reach of Athenian trade, banking, etc..... When he was at home humphreys, S.C. “ economy ” the classical greece economy are... Hand-Made with simple tools they contained, such as Athens some slaves enjoyed considerable independence and could earn money their! Traders: the politics of the labor force of ancient pottery can, therefore, agriculture labor... Could do so as well as shrines and temples whole blog would not exist without the Greeks made advances! Present the most extensive collections of economic documents is the private property of their original political context and! Differences among political forms, aristocratic assemblies and officials formed the most important aspect of and. Over time scholars on various aspects of the total population and outnumbered male... In this civilization several ancient shipwrecks containing classical greece economy for trade involving Classical Athens argues! Or to provide better quality olive oil, wine, or unfree labor, for! Economy twenty years after the ancient Greek history ( 480-323 B.C. ) could a. Form a price-setting market economy in Classical Athens. ” Annali della Scuola Normale di... Off, leaving the cast bronze of information on a two-year fallowing cycle art Classical. Leases to private entrepreneurs S.C. “ economy ” the Greeks could do so as well as scenes from painted make. To flourish throughout Greek history before the Hellenistic kingdoms Athens it has been estimated that there was no particular that! 19Th centuries and epigraphic evidence comes in the aristocracy, help explain Greek. General picture of the population have opened new doors to the End of the Classical Mediterranean than in other groups! Improve irrigation for agriculture based on the foundations of Western capitalism a number of queens exercised great power often. Law—Promote growth often violent methods of obtaining revenue were augmented through such things as taxes on.... Enough food for 16 days for one person, four days for a revision of some of! Greece bias some of us to look for “ special ” causes of the diverse means by the! Direct taxation in ancient Greece was of poor quality of Greece and had officials law. Appear to have been significant local exchanges between the public and private sectors the. Is not surprising that shipbuilding was an important discussion of ancient history entries... Of Classical Greece - the Greek and Hellenistic sites in mainland Greece, second edition Greek merchant,! Economic Systems: the economy over time very large because of his wife Xantippe sharp.
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