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  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: March 2008

15 - The Hellenistic Near East

from Part IV - The Hellenistic States


In the Hellenistic period, Greek and Near Eastern traditions came into closer contact than before, increasing the cohabitation of Greeks and non-Greeks. This chapter focuses on the Seleucid empire, since it was the main heir of the earlier Persian empire. The empire contained high civilizations with their own ancient histories: Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Phoenicians, Jews, and half-Hellenized states in Asia Minor. The chapter examines how the Seleucid economy performed relative to earlier and later periods. Everywhere in antiquity, agriculture was the main means of subsistence. Agricultural conditions, however, varied greatly. Industrial production was linked to agriculture, and many items including textiles, were produced at home. Some regions developed specialties: Phoenicia was famous for purple dyes, glass, and ships, and Babylonia for woolen and linen textiles, salt, and bitumen. As a result of the empire's urbanization policies, many Macedonians and Greeks emigrated to the east; new cities were founded, often on more or less vacant territories.
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