Olive Cultivation in Ancient Greece: Seeking the Ancient Economy

By Lin Foxhall

Lin Foxhall explores the cultivation of the olive as a longer case examine for knowing historic Greek agriculture in its panorama, financial, social, and political settings. proof from written resources, archaeology, and visible photos is assembled to target what used to be specific concerning the cultivation and processing of the olive in classical and archaic Greece, and the way and why those practices differed from Roman ones. This research opens up new methods of puzzling over the economies of the archaic and classical Greek world.

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Certainly, given the variety of ingesting vessels and oil boxes within the pottery repertoire from the Bronze Age onward (Hamilakis 1999: 47–8), there is not any cause to imagine that vines and olives weren't cultivated as a part of combined farming regimes, or have been new to Greek farming. The olive turns into really linked to Athens and Attica within the scholarly mind's eye from the 7th and early 6th centuries bce due to its visual appeal within the Solonian legislation. This corpus is itself troublesome and in contemporary scholarship there's a lot confrontation between approximately how a lot can really be attributed to ‘Solon’ (Blok and Lardinois 2006). The Solonian legislations permitting the export in basic terms of olive oil from Attica appears to be like in Plutarch’s lifetime of Solon (24), the place it really is said that the legislation used to be written on Solon’s Wrst axon, implying that both Plutarch or his resource learn it (Rhodes 2006: 250–2; Gagarin 2006: 267). three it really is diYcult to appreciate the aim and influence of this legislations seeing that we won't simply Wt it into an ancient or social context. Exempting the export of olive oil inside a basic ban on exports of produce from Athens underpins the concept that it was once now not a staple foodstuff, whatever the amounts within which it was once produced. during this interval olive oil is probably going to were a ‘semiluxury’ commodity, that's, whatever fascinating that used to be occasionally nearby of individuals from a pretty vast band of the socio-economic spectrum, a minimum of on particular events, yet now not inevitably a staple to be taken with no consideration in daily use (Foxhall 1998a; 2005; Hamilakis 1999). desk olives, by contrast, that are more cost-effective and more straightforward to method, might were a big nutrients. there's no archaeological proof for the large-scale creation of olive oil in three The query continues to be open in my brain even if the wood axones on which Solon’s legislation have been written have been numbered on the time in their composition and erection, or even if the numbers have been further at a later date, possibly as a part of the revision and enhancing of Athenian legislation on the finish of the Wfth century bce (Lysias 30; Todd 1996). Numbering the axones turns out out of personality with what little we all know of the ‘publication’ of early inscriptions—even as overdue because the Wrst 1/2 the Wfth century, the provisions of the nice Code of Gortyn weren't numbered. 18 creation 7th and 6th century bce Attica, as one may anticipate to Wnd, if it were on a regular basis exported in sizeable amounts (compare, for instance the 6th century bce olive press at Klazomenai, bankruptcy 6. three. 2). it's also diYcult to appreciate how this legislations could were enforced from what we all know of the restricted achieve of the nation in Athens in this interval. Attica has, despite the fact that, produced the earliest Greek shipping amphorae, commonly known as SOS amphorae (Johnston and R. Jones 1978). It has occasionally been argued almost about the Solonian legislations that those have been the export boxes for Athenian olive oil (Vallet 1962; Johnston and R. Jones 1978: 140–1). notwithstanding, a illustration of an SOS amphora on a 7th century oinochoe from a good deposit in Athens indicates an organization with wine instead of olive oil (Young 1938:417 and Fig.

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