07/02/2023- SemGRAnt- City and Country in the Greek World

Edward Harris, University of Durham
City and Country in the Greek World

Not very long ago, the standard view of the ancient Greek city and its territory was one of a cellular unit whose economic activities were nearly all internally oriented – an almost closed system, where exchanges beyond the territory’s borders were limited to the importation of a few luxuries for elites and any key commodities (e.g., metals) that could not be got locally. Most residents, furthermore, lived in the countryside. The relationship between the city residents and country residents was parasitic: the city-dwelling elite drew rents from country-dwellers to fund its lifestyle and provide it with the leisure to pursue politics. This is the Greek city of the ‘New Orthodoxy’ of M.I. Finley and his school. Finley of course recognised that large, dynamic commercial cities existed; but he treated these as rarities, and furthermore played down the role of manufacturing even there.
Recent research into the full range of ancient Greek cities, their territories, and their resources – but also, crucially, their entanglement with the broader interstate trading economy – renders this model outdated. This talk aims to survey the current state of the subject. Comprehensive coverage is impossible, so we will focus on a series of case studies from the Classical and early Hellenistic periods. Several issues will be examined: the size-range of Greek city states, looking both at the overall number of known cities and what the ‘typical’ city and territory size was; agriculture and settlement patterns; the uneven resource-base of the Greek cities; the specializing in local advantages. These case studies illustrate how cities large and small were integrated into the broader trading economy, but to differing degrees.


SemGRAnt- City and Country in the Greek World
City and Country in the Greek World Edward Harris University of Durham SÉMINAIRE HYBRIDE / ΥΒΡΙΔIΚΟ ΣΕΜΙΝΑΡΙΟ / HYBRID SEMINAR Fondation Nationale Hellénique de la Recherche, salle des séminaires - Vas. Konstantinou 48 / National Hellenic Research …

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