41-60 of 174 Results  for:

  • Ancient Economy x
Clear all

Article

Colin P. Elliott

Most currency systems in classical antiquity used precious metals at standardized weights and/or fineness. Debasement describes reductions in currency standards, whether such reductions were openly declared or hidden, or whether they were enacted by legitimate minting authorities or counterfeiters. Some debasements may have been unintentional, the result of imprecisions in the minting process. Often, however, debasements were carried out on purpose and for a wide range of reasons—in response to crises such as wars or famines, or as part of a larger economic or monetary reform. Contemporary responses to debasements varied. Coin-users and money specialists developed techniques to assess the quality of coins. Some polities enacted legal tender laws—sometimes to discourage the use of debased counterfeit coins, but often to require the use of legitimate coinage after it had been debased. The scholarly study of changes in coin standards continues to provide insights into both the practical workings of ancient monetary systems and the abstract notions of value, acceptability, and other embedding frameworks that governed the use of ancient coinage.

Article

debt  

Paul C. Millett

Debt, the creation of obligations in cash or kind, existed at all levels of society throughout the ancient world: from loans of seed and implements between peasants (Hes.Op. 396 ff., 453 ff.) to lending of small sums and household objects between city-dwellers (Theophr.Char. passim), from borrowing to cope with unforeseen crises (Dem. 53. 4 ff.) to substantial cash loans between the wealthy to support an élite lifestyle (Ar.Nub.; Plut.Mor. 827 ff.). More generally, the partly random testimony of papyri from Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt hints at the likely frequency of loan transactions in other times and places, largely concealed by the perspective of surviving sources. The part played by debt in funding trade and commerce (see maritime loans) is disputed; but always to the fore were the socio-political implications of widespread indebtedness, plausibly linked with the so-called ‘Solonic Crisis’ (see solon) in Archaic Athens and the ‘Struggle of the Orders’ in early *Rome.

Article

decuma  

Ernst Badian

In Italy, by the 2nd cent. bce, one-tenth of the grain harvest (and one-fifth of the fruit harvest) on *ager publicus was paid to the state; it was collected by *publicani. In the provinces the Romans on the whole took over any form of taxation they found. In Sicily, probably Carthage and certainly King *Hieron (2) II had collected a tithe on the harvest. This was appropriated by Rome. Under the reorganization of P. *Rupilius, the whole of Sicily was put under Hiero's system. All land not ager publicus or belonging to free cities (see socii; provincia) was decumanus. The tax was sold to contractors at Syracuse and they made contracts (pactiones) with individual tax-farmers under the supervision of the governor. The cities themselves sometimes bought the contracts. In 75 bce the sale of the tithe on fruit was transferred to Rome. Sardinia, taken over from Carthage, may have paid a tithe, we do not know how collected. A further tithe of grain could be requisitioned by the governor against assessed payment, when needed by Rome. This seems to have happened quite frequently and provided opportunities for chicanery and exploitation. By the late republic, most of the *free cities were liable to this tax.

Article

Frank William Walbank and P. J. Rhodes

Dēmiourgoi, ‘public workers’, are in *Homer such independent craftsmen as metalworkers, potters, and masons, and also seers, doctors, bards, and heralds. *Plato (1) and *Xenophon (1) use the word thus. More generally in Classical Greece the word is used sometimes in that sense, sometimes as the title of major officials in a state; though perhaps of greatest antiquity in *Elis and *Achaea, they are most often found in Dorian states. In the *Achaean Confederacy they formed a council of ten, who assisted the *stratēgos; the *Arcadian League imitated this organization, based originally on local representation. Outside mainland Greece, dēmiourgoi are found in *Crete and several Aegean islands, and in the Roman period in *Asia Minor. In Athens there are references to a division of the citizen body into *eupatridai, farmers, and dēmiourgoi, and to the involvement of those classes in the appointment of the archons after 580 bce (Ath.

Article

Saskia Hin

People’s life courses are shaped by the complex interactions of contextual factors, of individual behavior, and of opportunities and constraints operating at the macro level. Demography studies these processes with a focus on particular transitions in the life course: birth, leaving home, marriage, and other transitions in civil status (divorce, remarriage, and transitions into widowhood), the birth and survival of offspring, migration, and finally the end of the life cycle—death.

Initial work on the ancient world focussed primarily on macro-level data, trying to establish overall trends in population development on the basis of census figures and other population estimates. This approach has received further impetus with the advent of survey demography (see Population Trends). More recently, attention has turned to single events in the life course. Core demographic studies have attempted to establish patterns and rates of marriage, fertility, migration, and mortality. Others have taken a complementary approach with a stronger focus on qualitative data. These support investigation of sociological, cultural, and economic aspects of demographic phenomena. The remainder of this article focusses on a concise evaluation of current understanding of marriage, fertility, migration, mortality, and population trends in the ancient Greco-Roman world.

Article

Stephen Mitchell

Docimium was a city in *Phrygia, about 25 km. (15 ½ mi.) north-east of modern Afyon. It was named after a Macedonian founder, Docimus, and was one of the rare Hellenistic settlements of central Phrygia. Under the Roman empire it was known principally for its marble *quarries, which were under imperial control from the time of Tiberius, and which produced enormous quantities of white and polychrome (pavonazetto) *marble. This was used for large-scale imperial building projects, for instance in *Trajan's forum at Rome, and widely for prestige civic building in Asia Minor, for instance for the theatre at Hierapolis. Sculpture workshops attached to the quarries were also responsible for making elaborate, decorated *sarcophagi, which were sold both inside and outside Asia Minor, and for producing free-standing sculpture during the 2nd and 3rd cents. ce.

Article

Brian Campbell

Donativum, in the imperial period an irregular monetary payment to soldiers, perhaps originally associated with distributions of booty. Donatives celebrated important events linked to the emperor—imperial birthdays, dynastic policy, the defeat of conspiracies, military victories, and especially accession to power. Augustus in his will had bequeathed 1,000 sesterces each to the praetorians, 500 each to the urban soldiers, and 300 each to legionaries, sums which *Tiberius doubled in his own name. But in ce 41*Claudius paid 15,000 sesterces per man to ensure the crucial support of the praetorians, confirming the importance of a substantial donative in the emperor's own name at his accession and linking the army more closely to his person. Claudius probably made a proportionate payment to other citizen troops, and thereafter a donative accompanied every accession, though it is unclear if auxiliaries (*auxilia) continued to be excluded from this bounty. Donatives depended on circumstances and were not directly related to regular pay rates; the largest known donative, 25,000 sesterces (more than six times praetorian pay), was paid by *Didius (Severus) Iulianus in 193 at the notorious ‘auction’ of the empire.

Article

dyeing  

J. P. Wild

Dyeing was a well-established urban professional craft in the classical world and a branch of empirical chemistry, as the surviving Graeco-Roman dye recipe-books (PLeid. 10; PHolm.) reveal. *wool was dyed ‘in the fleece’ before spinning; flax (see linen) was dyed (if at all) as yarn, as was *silk. Dyestuffs were drawn from many sources: plants (e.g. woad, madder), insects (kermes), and shellfish (the muricids). Most plant dyes would not ‘take’ unless the textile fibres had been pretreated with a mordant like alum or iron; mordants also affect the shade. The vat-dyes from woad and the muricid whelks bonded without a mordant, but had to be fermented first, and the colour developed only after dyed fibre was exposed to light. Red was won from madder root, the scale-bug kermes, and Polish cochineal, whilst blue came mostly from woad. Weld, saffron, dyer's broom, and safflower gave yellow, and oak galls combined with ferrous sulphate black. *purple was extracted most expensively from the Mediterranean whelks Murex brandaris, Murex trunculus, and Purpura haemostoma, which were crushed to release the dye fluid for the vat.

Article

The Greeks and Romans did not develop a concept of “the economy” or discuss economic matters at any length; the study of the ancient economy therefore began only in the late 18th century, in parallel with the developing study of contemporary economic development, and was heavily influenced from the beginning by the question of the relationship between antiquity and modernity. The field has long been dominated by two different but closely connected debates about the nature and degree of development of the ancient economy (was it “primitive” or, on the contrary, proto-modern?) and about the correct theoretical and methodological tools for studying it, with constant anxieties about the dangers of anachronism. A notable trend has been the increasing weight given to material as compared with literary evidence, as archaeologists have accumulated ever greater information about economic activity, leading to calls in recent years to focus on ancient economic performance rather than on the structures of culture and thought that supposedly inhibited ancient development.

Article

Paul Cartledge

Even if there was ‘an economy’ in ancient Greece (see capitalism), Greece itself was not a single entity, but a congeries of more than a thousand separate communities. One should therefore speak of Greek economies rather than the Greek economy, and for simplicity's sake it is convenient to divide them into three groups, types, or models. First, there is the ‘Archaic’ group of which *Sparta can stand as the representative instance. At the opposite extreme is Athens, distinguished both by the exceptional size and number of its economic transactions, and by the exceptional sophistication of its economic institutions. In between fall the vast range of ‘normal’ Greek cities or communities, differentiated from the latter chiefly in the scale, and from the former principally in the nature, of their economic arrangements.Consider the last group first. Our ‘economy’ is derived from the ancient Greek word oikonomia, but this meant originally and usually the management of a private household (oikos) rather than that of a ‘national’ economy (see household, greek).

Article

Zosia Archibald

Alexander the Great’s empire, which stretched from the Danube and the western shore of the Black Sea in the north to the Indus valley and Indian Ocean in the east, did not survive his death. Competition among his successors involved almost constant warfare, strategies to secure desirable commodities, and a nearly insatiable need for cash reserves. Whereas the founders of the new kingdoms were predominantly cavalrymen, the soldiers of succeeding generations were armed settlers and frontiersmen. The technology of warfare also underwent rapid changes at the start of the Hellenistic era, when siege machinery and artillery were introduced. Maintaining empires required different armies and resources, bringing wealth to countryside as well as city.The organizational template created by cities in the 4th century bce provided an efficient and flexible model of economic as well as social organization that enabled cities of all cultural and linguistic origins to become focal points of economic expansion under the kingdoms of .

Article

Nicholas Purcell

The economic history of Rome from the first, like all ancient Mediterranean economies, involved the interaction of the circumstances of local *agriculture with the available *labour supply in the context of opportunities for interregional redistribution in which the exchange of other commodities was involved. It is now certain that from the 7th cent bce. Rome was privileged among other *Tiber valley communities as a centre for the movement of people and materials from peninsular Italy out into the world of Mediterranean contacts. The Romans believed that they had imported cereals from *Campania from at least the early 5th cent., and that they had freed their citizens from the risk of debt-bondage (nexum; see debt) at the end of the 4th. It was important to their self-image that they considered the area around their city to be of only moderate productivity, and that it had been assigned in lots from an early period to citizens who worked them independently. Historically, this enthusiasm for the lot was of more significance in the concept of public ownership of land, and the practice of dividing and assigning it (see ager publicus).

Article

Friedrich M. Heichelheim and P. J. Rhodes

Eisphora (‘paying-in’), a general word for payments made for a common cause by a plurality of contributors; and in particular the name of a property tax known in a number of Greek states and in the Ptolemaic empire.In Athens eisphora is attested in Inscriptiones Graecae 13. 52 = R. Meiggs and D. Lewis 58 (probably 434/3 bce) as an extraordinary tax which can be levied after a vote of immunity in the assembly, and *Thucydides (2) mentions a levy in 428/7 (3. 19), but we have no details about the 5th-cent. tax. In the 4th cent. eisphora was a proportional levy, imposed when the assembly chose and at a rate which the assembly chose, on all whose declared property exceeded a certain value; probably the class of eisphora-payers was larger than the class of *liturgy-performers; *metics were liable, on disadvantageous terms. The timēma, the total assessment of all men or of all liable for eisphora, is said to have been 5,750 or 6,000 talents (Polyb.

Article

D. W. R. Ridgway

General term for ‘a trading-place’ (LSJ), as in *Strabo's reference (4. 4. 1) to the anonymous British entrepôt (presumably Hengistbury Head) used by traders from Gallia Belgica. In essence, an emporion was an ad hoc community where a mixed and possibly shifting population of traders engaged in activities that would be well understood in the quarter of Athens of the same name. Outside Greece, a trading-post did not need to be established with the official acts deemed appropriate to the foundation of a true *apoikia: an emporion could be the result of nothing more solemn than temporary or more long-lasting market forces. Such was clearly the case at *Pithecusae, inhabited by Chalcidians, Eretrians, and a certain number of Levantines. This centre, however, supported a population that seems to have been numbered in thousands rather than hundreds from the earliest times so far attested archaeologically, with all that this required—and had demonstrably received long before the end of the 8th cent. bce—in the way of precisely the kind of social, indeed urban, organization that is commonly attributed to the *polis.

Article

Neville Morley

Energy and power are closely related concepts: energy implies the capacity to do work, and power affects the rate at which work is done (energy transmitted per unit of time). The availability of energy, and the rates at which that energy can be converted into heat or mechanical work, for example, constitute fundamental limits to the performance of any economy.

“Energy” derives from the Greek ἐνέργεια. The word is used by Diodorus Siculus ( 20.95.1 ) for the motive power of one thousand men pushing a battering ram, but for the most part it means “action” or “operation.” In Latin, energia is used by Jerome (Ep. 53.2) to describe the power of a living voice, but it is largely a medieval term. Latin offers a wide range of words for “force” or “power” in a more general sense, such as vis or potentia, which could be used for physical force, but not in the abstract sense in which “energy” can be used. This perspective on the ancient world, and the importance of energy and power, is a wholly modern one.

Article

Arjan Zuiderhoek

Euergetism is the modern scholarly term, derived from the ancient Greek euergetes (benefactor), to denote the phenomenon of elite gift-giving to cities (or to groups within them) in Greek and Roman societies. The term encompasses benefactions by Hellenistic kings and Roman emperors, but is mostly used to refer to the munificence of local civic elites. Recent scholarship stresses the transactional character of euergetism: benefactors donated or contributed to public buildings (including temples), festivals, and games, or they gave distributions of food or money or organized public banquets in exchange for publicly awarded honours: usually including an honorific inscription recording the benefaction and the accolades awarded to the donor in return, often accompanied by a statue of him or her. In Archaic and 5th-century bce Greece, cities mostly honoured foreign benefactors in this way, but from the 4th century bce onward, it became more and more normal for wealthy citizens to donate to their own city in exchange for public honours awarded by their fellow-citizens. Civic euergetism of this type became increasingly common in Greek cities during the Hellenistic period. Its greatest proliferation, however, was under Roman imperial rule during the 1st, 2nd and early 3rd centuries ce, when we have more inscriptions for benefactors in cities in both East and West than ever before.

Article

famine  

Dominic W. Rathbone

Catastrophic breakdowns in the production and distribution of essential foodstuffs, resulting in exceptionally high mortality from attendant epidemic *diseases, were rare in the ancient world. The typical natural and man-made causes of famine were omnipresent: crop failure caused by the unreliable Mediterranean rainfall (see climate) or pests and diseases, destruction in war, state oppression and incompetence, poor arrangements for transport, storage, and distribution, and profiteering by the élite. Specific food-shortages of varying intensity and chronic malnutrition of the poor were common, but most of the population were subsistence farmers whose primary strategy of production was to minimize risk, and the political culture helped town-dwellers to pressure their leaders to resolve food crises before they became critical. The exaggerated references to ‘famine’ in the ancient sources echo the political rhetoric of an urban society where famine was a frequent threat but a very infrequent experience. Local climatic variation meant that relief supplies were normally available within the region, given the political will to obtain them. The severe food-shortages over extensive areas of the eastern Mediterranean world attested in 328 bce, ce 45–7, (the ‘universal famine’ of Acts 11: 28), and ce 500 were quite exceptional.

Article

fig  

Lin Foxhall

The fig-tree is an underrated food source in antiquity, producing more calories per unit area than any other crop: 15,000,000 kilocalories per hectare. Though vigorous, the trees are sensitive to severe frost and need long, hot summers for the fruit to ripen. Normally they were propagated by cuttings. Fig fertilization fascinated ancient writers, and was accurately described by *Theophrastus (Caus. pl. 2. 9; Hist. pl. 2. 8). Figs flower internally, within the embryo fruit, on male and female trees. For pollination they depend on the fig wasp which crawls out of the male and into the female fruits.Figs were an important sweetener: few forms of sugar were available (Ath. 3. 74d–f). Choice fresh figs were valued, and many early and late varieties bred to extend the season are mentioned by Theophrastus and the Roman agronomists. Dried figs (Gk. ischades) were food for slaves or poor rustics (Columella, Rust.

Article

Paul C. Millett

The collective deployment of resources by the community inevitably has socio-political implications (who pays? who benefits?). But public finance in Greek states rarely had economic aims beyond the broad balancing of incomings and outgoings: demand-management through running a budget deficit or surplus was unknown. Oikonomia (‘economics’) as applied to state finance preserved autarkic attitudes appropriate to its original meaning of ‘household management’ (Xen.Mem. 3. 4). Recurring expenditure (primarily on administration, cult, ambassadors, defence, maintenance of fortifications, gymnasia, and public buildings) would be met from a variety of revenues (rents and royalties from state property, including mines and quarries, court fees and fines, taxes on non-citizens, sales taxes, excise duties and customs dues). Collection of taxes was regularly farmed out by auction to private individuals (Ath. pol. 47. 2ff). Extraordinary expenditure (typically through warfare or food shortage; occasionally, on public building) was met through ad hoc measures: property and poll taxes, public loans, creation of monopolies, epidoseis (contributions), or confiscations ([Arist.

Article

Graham Burton

‘Taxes are the sinews of the state’. So claimed both Cicero and the great jurist Ulpian. Despite this recognition of the central importance of taxation no systematic ancient treatment of Roman public finance survives. Extended financial documents are also rare (though see now the elaborate schedule of the *portoria of Asia, M. Cottier and others, The Customs Law of Asia (2008)). Therefore many details about (e.g.) the allocation and collection of taxes or about the character of fiscal institutions (such as the *fiscus, the patrimonium, and the res privata (for both the latter see patrimonium)) remain obscure and disputed. Despite the serious deficiencies in our evidence the broad features of the history and development of Roman public finance through the republic and the Principate to the later empire can be delineated with some confidence.In the republic there were, traditionally, two major types of revenue namely the regular *vectigalia and the *tributum, an extraordinary (in principle) levy on the property of Roman citizens.