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The Economies of Hellenistic Societies, Third to First Centuries BC$
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Zosia Archibald, John K. Davies, and Vincent Gabrielsen

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199587926

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199587926.001.0001

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Labour in the Hellenistic Economy

Labour in the Hellenistic Economy

Slavery as a Test Case

(p.207) 10 Labour in the Hellenistic Economy
The Economies of Hellenistic Societies, Third to First Centuries BC

Raymond Descat

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the role of slave labour in the Hellenistic economy. It draws upon the ideas of M. Rostovtzeff about slave labour and offers a more pragmatic account, taking up various points based on new documents or new approaches, especially in the case of Asia Minor. It emphasizes four aspects which appear to be fundamental for the history of slave labour and which need to be taken into fuller consideration: Firstly, Rostovtzeff rightly starts his history of the Hellenistic economy by considering Greece in the fourth century BC. Secondly, the development of slavery is bound up with its economic advantages for slave-owners. Thirdly, slavery probably did not develop so rapidly in agriculture due to the existence of other forms of forced labour; the evidence of epigraphy shows that it was in the Roman period that slave labour made itself more clearly visible. Finally, there was no gradual increase in the number of slaves after the end of the third century BC.

Keywords:   Hellenistic period, slaves, Hellenistic economy, slave labour, Asia Minor

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