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date: 08 December 2023

economy, Hellenisticlocked

economy, Hellenisticlocked

  • John Davies


The regions brought under the control of the Hellenistic kingdoms showed little economic unity or uniformity. Land-use systems ranged from *irrigation regimes in Egypt, Mesopotamia, and parts of Iran (Polyb. 10. 28) through widespread dry farming to the nomad or transhumant *pastoralism of the deserts and the mountains. Land tenure arrangements included, besides private beneficial ownership at all levels of magnitude, land owned by cities, cantons, or temples but rented out to individuals or worked by ‘slaves of the shrine’ (*hierodouloi), and above all land owned by the kings. Such land might be held in direct tenure and worked by serfs, or alienated to large-scale proprietors (e.g. Austin nos. 164 and 173), or bestowed as allotments (klēroi) in various ways on individuals in return for military service, or have its use and revenues assigned to individuals (dōrea). Such lands mostly had arable and arboricultural use in producing the basic Mediterranean triad (*cereals, vines (see wine), *olives) and other supplementary foodstuffs, while other land uses included pasturage, ornamental ground such as the ex-Persian paradeisoi, *quarries, *mines, and forests.


  • Ancient Economy

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