Special Subject: Cash, Crops, and Credit: The Economic Life of the Ancient Greek World

MW 11-12:30; E51-385

Our picture of ancient Greece is often dominated by mythology, literature, and art. But how did people live? What did they grow, make, and build? Where did money come from? How was labor organized? Was there economic growth? What were the roles of gender, class, and status in the economy? These and similar questions will also be at the heart of this new subject, in which students are introduced to the study of ancient Greek economic life. Key themes include: Mediterranean ecology and its implications, farming and pastoralism, maritime resources, commerce and redistribution, climate, coinage and money, public finance, banks and credit, the mobilization of labor (including slavery), gender, class and status, and the role of the state in framing economic activity. In addition, we will extensively discuss big-picture questions about what it means to study “the” or “an” ancient economy.


This subject is open to all, with no required background in ancient Greek history or economics.