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17 - Hellenistic Greece and Western Asia Minor

from Part IV - The Hellenistic States

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 March 2008

Gary Reger
Trinity College
Walter Scheidel
Stanford University, California
Ian Morris
Stanford University, California
Richard P. Saller
Stanford University, California
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The conventional boundaries of the “Hellenistic period” – the death of Alexander the Great in 323 bc and the Battle of Actium in 31 bc – were unquestionably important political events, but their relevance for understanding economic history is less clear. In many ways the third century shows more economic links to the preceding hundred years than to the following two hundred. After 200 the increasing presence of Italian troops, traders, and settlers in the Aegean world and western Asia Minor transformed much of the political, social, cultural, and economic life of “old Greece.” Several markers point to new economic configurations after 200 bc – activity that may represent new, trans-Mediterranean links between west and east (perhaps groundwork for the more integrated Mediterranean of the first three centuries ad) and perhaps some real, though slight, productivity growth.

Politically, the Hellenistic world saw first the creation of great new Greco-Macedonian empires on the ashes of the Persian empire and second the intrusion of Rome. Van der Spek and Manning (Chapters 15–16) review the impact of these phenomena on southerly and eastern parts of the Middle East. In this chapter I focus on “old Greece” – the southern Balkans, the Aegean islands, and western Asia Minor. Greek-speakers had settled this region centuries earlier. The polis remained the basic political unit, although earlier formations persisted, especially in Asia Minor and northwestern Greece, and new, or re-configured old, political arrangements like the federations of the Aetolians or Achaeans complicated the scene. Non-Greeks like the Carians and Lycians remained in much of Asia Minor, but their identities, which had taken on Greek features across earlier centuries, weakened further in Hellenistic times.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2007

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