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CHAPTER 2 - Land Tenancy and Agricultural Labor

“The Land Is Mine”

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 October 2019

Anthony Keddie
Affiliation:
University of British Columbia, Vancouver
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Summary

The second chapter investigates changes in land tenure and the organization of labor in the Early Roman period. It shows that land tenancy was not an imperial imposition, but had instead existed in some form in the Levant since at least the Iron Age. In the Early Roman period, however, elites attained greater protections for private property and were thus able to accumulate and convey large estates consisting of a number of geographically discontinuous plots. Tenants and laborers were no more exploited working for their elite patrons on private estates than they had been working on royal estates in earlier eras, but they did enter into new socioeconomic relations with elites. Tenants and wage laborers could occupy a range of socioeconomic positions and managed to secure a modicum of bargaining power in making contracts with landowners. As in earlier eras, drought and crop failure sometimes impeded the success of agricultural laborers. As a result, these laborers often became indebted to their landowners or other elite patrons.

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Chapter
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Class and Power in Roman Palestine
The Socioeconomic Setting of Judaism and Christian Origins
, pp. 71 - 110
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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