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1 - Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 March 2008

Ian Morris
Stanford University
Richard Saller
Stanford University
Walter Scheidel
Stanford University
Walter Scheidel
Stanford University, California
Ian Morris
Stanford University, California
Richard P. Saller
Stanford University, California
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We have two goals in this book: to summarize the state of knowledge in ancient Greek and Roman economic history, and to contribute to shaping future research. The book is the first of its kind. The original Cambridge Economic History of Europe began with the decline of the Roman empire; and in the seventy years since its first volume appeared there has been no single-volume overview of Greco-Roman economic history to complement it. From one perspective, that is hardly surprising. Most ancient historians rely on literary sources produced by and for a leisured elite. These say notoriously little about economics, and the corpus of texts has barely expanded since the Cambridge Economic History of Europe was published. But experts in the field know that this perspective is misleading. The publication of huge numbers of inscriptions, papyri, coins, and mute archaeological data has transformed scholarship in the last two generations, and Greco-Roman economic historians are now asking new questions and using new methods to answer them. But their advances are as yet barely known outside the specialist community. We hope that this Cambridge Economic History of the Greco-Roman World will simultaneously help students of classical culture understand the material forces that made the Greeks’ and Romans’ cultural achievements possible and allow economic historians of other times and places to fit the Greco-Roman experience into the broader sweep of world economic history.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2007

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