Olive Cultivation in Ancient Greece: Seeking the Ancient Economy
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Lin Foxhall explores the cultivation of the olive as an extended case study for understanding ancient Greek agriculture in its landscape, economic, social, and political settings. Evidence from written sources, archaeology, and visual images is assembled to focus on what was special about the cultivation and processing of the olive in classical and archaic Greece, and how and why these practices differed from Roman ones. This investigation opens up new ways of thinking about the economies of the archaic and classical Greek world.
own society. Surely our own economy is also ‘embedded’, in the sense that it is structured by the culture(s) and societies in which it operates, even if as a global, mega-institution, viewed from the stratosphere of macroeconomics, it also has a kind of independent existence with its own cycles and momentum (though even these, of course, need not necessarily be independent of cultural principles or international politics). And ‘market relationships’, depending on the scale at which one observes
Problem of Timescale for Using Resources When rich households had spare cash (and at times they seem to have had large amounts), it was stored like any other commodity in chests and/or jars. Loans, including eranos loans, were a way of doing something with cash. Putting cash in a ‘bank’ may simply have meant that someone else was conducting the actual business of loaning out the money (Dem. 27.11), though it is possible that such accounts were rare and set up for special purposes (Millett 1991:
is, on other households and unpredictable market transactions. This is the practical signiWcance of the moral value of autarkia: the implication of large-scale and direct control by a household of the means of production, which limited the extent to which that household was subject to other households and institutions. In other words, it is not simply ‘self-suYciency’; it also represents that key attribute of the ideal male citizen, ‘autonomy’. Despite the monopoly on land ownership by polis
the ‘press’ room, j, all 150 Processing Olives point in this direction. It is possible that the facility was used for several diVerent activities, and wine production could conceivably have been one of them. Brun (2004a: 100) suggests that the paving and holes in room j were designed to take a portable wine press of the type represented on the Boston skyphos (see above, section 6.1.2), though there is no obvious treading Xoor preserved. Small-scale dyeing or fulling is another possibility
by village craftsmen out of local wood and stone, with the only metal parts being one pin and a few large nails, while the latter could only be produced and assembled by specialist iron workers and stonemasons who were urban-based (incidentally also increasing transport cost, as well as the costs of labour and materials). In antiquity, the substantial cost of a specialist, highlycrafted olive crusher might well be thought an unnecessary expense, particularly in mixed farming regimes, where few