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The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy:
Institutions, Markets, and Growth in the City-States
Alain Bresson
Translated by Steven Rendall

Hardcover | 2015 | $45.00 | £37.95 | ISBN: 9780691144702
648 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4
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This comprehensive introduction to the ancient Greek economy revolutionizes our understanding of the subject and its possibilities. Alain Bresson is one of the world's leading authorities in the field, and he is helping to redefine it. Here he combines a thorough knowledge of ancient sources with innovative new approaches grounded in recent economic historiography to provide a detailed picture of the Greek economy between the last century of the Archaic Age and the closing of the Hellenistic period. Focusing on the city-state, which he sees as the most important economic institution in the Greek world, Bresson addresses all of the city-states rather than only Athens.

An expanded and updated English edition of an acclaimed work originally published in French, the book offers a groundbreaking new theoretical framework for studying the economy of ancient Greece; presents a masterful survey and analysis of the most important economic institutions, resources, and other factors; and addresses some major historiographical debates. Among the many topics covered are climate, demography, transportation, agricultural production, market institutions, money and credit, taxes, exchange, long-distance trade, and economic growth.

The result is an unparalleled demonstration that, unlike just a generation ago, it is possible today to study the ancient Greek economy as an economy and not merely as a secondary aspect of social or political history. This is essential reading for students, historians of antiquity, and economic historians of all periods.

Alain Bresson is professor of classics at the University of Chicago.


"This book must surely sweep the field. Whether one is an undergraduate student, an early-career scholar, has been chewing over the ancient economy for a career, or is simply a general reader with a curiosity about how the ancient economy worked, this is now the go-to work. [Bresson] has produced a book that is at the same time something of an encyclopaedia of the ancient Greek economy, full of in-depth discussions about more or less every product and every economic phenomenon, a sourcebook of texts, particularly epigraphic texts, illustrating economic phenomena, and a book with an argument."--Professor Robin Osborne, Classics for All

"This authoritative introduction to and survey of the ancient Greek economy translates, updates, expands, and combines the author's original two-volume French edition. Bresson documents the unprecedented and unparalleled economic growth of the Greek world from the Archaic through the Hellenistic periods. . . . [A] thoroughly informed masterwork."--Choice


"What is truly outstanding about Alain Bresson is the range of his skills: in philology and archaeology but also in the social sciences, including demography, economics, sociology, and anthropology. This is a great book and a model of its kind."--François de Callataÿ, Royal Library of Belgium

"In this lucid, fine-grained, at times meditative, and witty account of the economy of ancient Greece, Bresson's prose sparkles with a full command of the ancient sources, the economic history literature, and the debates about how to use both. This is a marvelous, evocative book that is sure to provoke reactions in many quarters."--J. G. Manning, Yale University

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Table of Contents:

Expanded Contents vii
List of Figures xv
List of Tables xvii
Introduction xxi
I The Economy of Ancient Greece: A Conceptual Framework 1
Structure and Production
II People in Their Environment 31
III Energy, Economy, and Transport Cost 71
IV The Polis and the Economy 96
V Agricultural Production 118
VI The Economy of the Agricultural World 142
VII Nonagricultural Production, Capital, and Innovation 175
VIII The Logic of Growth 199
Market and Trade
IX The Institutions of the Domestic Market 225
X Money and Credit 260
XI City-States, Taxes, and Trade 286
XII The Emporion and the Markets 306
XIII International Trade Networks 339
XIV Strategies of International Trade 381
XV The Greek Cities and the Market 415
Appendix: Weights, Measures, and Currency Units 439
Abbreviations 443
Notes 449
Sources 531
Bibliography 535
Index 603

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