Slavery and Athens’ economic efflorescence

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Abstract

Following the recent wave of literature arguing for significant growth in the ancient Greek economy, several ground-breaking books have sought to explain this phenomenon through the lens of New Institutional Economics (NIE). The undeniable prevalence of slavery throughout ancient Greek history, however, has not been substantially integrated into these new analyses. This essay intends to address this problem, by elucidating some of the ways in which slavery contributed to the economic efflorescence of Greece's late archaic and classical period (600–300 BC) within an institutionally focused approach. Specifically examining the State of Athens, this study contends that not only did the system of slavery import a vast amount of labor from other areas of the Mediterranean into the Athenian policy, but it also directed towards productive aims that were otherwise limited by Athens' societal framework. The use of slaves in milling operations provides a key and often overlooked example, which will here be used as a case study.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-50
JournalMare Nostrum
Volume10
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Aug 2019

Keywords

  • slavery
  • institutions
  • economic growth
  • milling
  • exploration

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