Ancient Greek Agriculture: An Introduction

Ancient Greek Agriculture: An Introduction

Ancient Greek Agriculture: An Introduction

Ancient Greek Agriculture: An Introduction


The initial focus of Ancient Greek Agriculture is firmly on the art of agriculture proper, the tools and the technique, the plants cultivated and the animals reared. Thereafter, Isager and Skydsgaard focus on the position of agriculture in the society of gods and men in the Greek city-states . The arguments of Ancient Greek Agriculture are strengthened by the book's close adherence to contemporary Greek sources, literary as well as archaeological, avoiding the use of later as well as Roman material.


The concept of this book originated some years ago in a Scandinavian symposium on Ancient History. It was obvious that agriculture played an important role in the history of ancient Greece and that there was need of a textbook that could serve as an introduction. Discussions with colleagues have supported the authors in their pursuit of the task and now, with some delay caused by the very disparate work of university teachers, the book is finished.

During our studies we have seen the interest of ancient agriculture grow, resulting in a nearly overwhelming flow of articles and books. Neither of us can say - with Cassius Dio (1.1) - that 'I have read almost everything that has been written by anybody' but we can confirm that 'we have not included all in the treatise'. Selection is difficult and we have decided to concentrate on Greek agriculture of the city-states, that is, from Homer to Aristotle and Theophrastus. The task has been divided. Skydsgaard undertook to write the first, more technical, part whereas Isager has written the latter parts, on the relationship between agriculture on one side and state and gods respectively on the other. We have, nevertheless, collaborated step by step, discussing most of the topics several times. Each of us is therefore responsible for the entire book.

We should like to thank our universities for granting terms free from teaching from time to time. The Carlsberg Foundation and Churchill College, Cambridge, granted Skydsgaard a sabbatical term in Cambridge which was very fruitful, not least because of the hospitality and interest of the colleagues there, including that of the late Moses I. Finley, who kindly encouraged the studies. We also spent a week in Methana as the guests of Lin Foxhall and Hamish Forbes, discussing various aspects of agriculture there, and should like to thank them very much for their hospitality.

The Danish Research Council has kindly given a grant for the translation of the Danish manuscript, and we owe much to Professor Jørgen Læssøe for his translation of the often difficult and technical text. Last, but not least, we should like to extend our thanks to colleagues here and abroad, including

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