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RA 2A: Trade, tolls and taxation

Though economic relations in Archaic Greece, i.e. in the 6th century BC, were largely non-monetary and confined within the horizon of the polis or oikos, the special character of the Pontic staple trade - seasonal, specialised, risky and requiring large capital outlays - forced the development of a sophisticated network of financing and transport. This study will focus on the points of production, the organization of transport, the background and organization of purveyors and merchants, the infra-structural facilities required (ports, granaries, warehouses) and the points of distribution and consumption. The social effects of integrating local household or city-state economies into an international economy will also be investigated. The shift from subsistence farming to cash crops and consequent monetarisation of the rural economy will have been keenly felt by small farmers in the hinterland of the colonies, while the trade in Scythian slaves - a common import into Athens during the latter half of the sixth century - must have had even greater disruptive effects in the regions where slaves were bought or captured.
                The obstacles faced by the Pontic traders included piracy and tolls, and in earlier times, there was not much difference between one and the other from the viewpoint of the trader. The process by which piracy was suppressed or marginalized while toll collection and commodity taxation was brought under the control of the polity is crucial to our understanding of the political as well as the economic history of the Greek city-state, and the importance of city control over the grain trade is well documented.

Responsible: Vincent Gabrielsen
Main activity: International conference in 2004
Main publication: V. Gabrielsen & J. Lund (eds.), Black Sea Studies 6 (under preparation)


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