The Economic Life of the Ancient World

The Economic Life of the Ancient World

The Economic Life of the Ancient World

The Economic Life of the Ancient World

Excerpt

To study the economic history of a given period is to inquire what were, during that period, the organization of property, agriculture, and industry, the development and main directions of routes and means of transport, the procedure and character of exchanges, and the amount of consumption--in short, to describe economic life in all its forms, in its almost infinite variety and complexity.

In all countries and at all times, economic life has been strictly subject to physical, racial, and social conditions. Also, in any one people, it develops in the course of the ages. It is therefore necessary, when one starts to study that of a particular portion of mankind, to determine the exact setting of the subject in place and time.

In the ordinary language of European science, ancient life is that which developed chiefly round the Mediterranean basin. Even the civilizations of the ancient East came into some kind of contact with the sea which the Romans afterwards called, with justice, mare nostrum--Our Sea. It is true that there came a time when that life, with its special characteristics, spread over countries whose rivers flowed into other seas, whose climate was unlike that of the Mediterranean lands--Lusitania, Gaul, Britain, and the Rhine valley in the West; the deserts of Syria and Arabia, the banks of the Euphrates, and the shores of the Indian Ocean in the . . .

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