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Article

follis  

Michael Crawford

A bag for coins, then—by the late 3rd or early 4th cent. ce—a bag containing a fixed number of coins, then a unit of account; the value of this unit of account varied over the centuries from the Tetrarchic period onwards. There is no clear evidence in practice that the term applied to an individual coin before the reforms of Anastasius (491–518ce), though the metrological writers contain some confused statements which may be interpreted in this way.

Article

Arnold Hugh Martin Jones

Indictio under the Principate meant the compulsory purchase of food, clothing, and other goods for the army and the court. Owing to the inflation of the mid-3rd cent. ce the payments made for such purchases became derisory and were finally abandoned. From the time of *Diocletian the term indictio was applied to the annual assessment of all levies in kind made by the praetorian prefects: the indictio declared the amount of each item (wheat, barley, wine, oil, clothing, etc. ) payable on each fiscal unit (caput, iugum, etc. ). From 287, indictions were numbered serially in cycles of five years, from 312 in cycles of fifteen years. The number of the indiction was regularly used for dating financial years (which began on 1 September) and sometimes for dating other documents. See finance, roman.

Article

John Weisweiler

The just distribution of social goods was fiercely debated in the ancient Mediterranean and the ideologies of egalitarianism and inegalitarianism developed in Rome and Athens shaped Euro-American political thought from the Enlightenment onward. By contrast, the study of actual income and wealth distributions in ancient societies is a more recent development. Only in the early 21st century have scholars begun to make systematic attempts to quantify levels of inequality in the ancient Mediterranean and Near East. Since we lack the documentary sources on which the study of inequality in contemporary economies is based, most of these reconstructions rely on a combination of modelling and the interpretation of isolated figures found in literary texts. This fragmentary evidence suggests that in the best-attested regions of the ancient Mediterranean and Near East inequality was considerable. In particular, the formation of large territorial states—most notably the empires of Babylon, Persia, and Rome—facilitated the concentration of wealth into fewer hands. But it is unclear whether inequality increased over time. At least, there is no unambiguous evidence that wealth and income were more unequally distributed in late antiquity than in earlier periods of Roman history.