Greek Economies: The Documentary Evidence

History 280A

Spring 2018
308C Doe Library
Day & Time: 
W 1-4
Class Number: 

The ancient economy is a particularly vibrant field of study within ancient history now, its dynamism and energy deriving both from methodological innovations and discoveries of new empirical evidence. Much of this new evidence has come to us in the form of inscriptions, while texts long known have been subject to significant reinterpretation in recent years. This course will accordingly introduce participants to the economic activities of the ancient Greek world through a focused study of the epigraphic evidence for them. We shall begin with a discussion of major historiographical approaches to the subject and current methodologies, and then turn to reading a sequence of epigraphic texts, from the Archaic to the early Hellenistic period, organized thematically. The epigraphic evidence will be supplemented by a reading of several ancient literary sources of particular importance to our knowledge of the Greek economy. Topics will include public economies, mining, coinage and money supply, banking and credit, trade, temples and sanctuaries as repositories and managers of wealth, island economies and piracy. Knowledge of ancient Greek is required; secondary source readings will be above all in English and French, with some material in German and Italian as student knowledge allows.