The prosperity of the bulk of Greek city-states to be based on farming and the capability to develop the necessary surplus which permitted some citizens to pursue other trades and pastimes and to create a quantity of exported goods so the they could be exchanged for necessities the community lacked. Cereals, olives, and wine were the three most created foodstuffs suited as they are to the Mediterranean climate. V the process of Greek emigration in such areas as Asia Minor and also Magna Graecia Greek farming practice and also products spread roughly the Mediterranean.

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A Network that Smallholdings

The state did not manage farming and also crops to be grown and livestock reared through private people on their own land. Indeed, the widespread exercise of not permitting non-residents to own land meant that smallholdings were the norm. One more important aspect which limited the amalgamation of soil plots over time was the male children generally inherited same shares of their parents" land. Ranches at Athens ranged in size from 5 ha (the poorer citizens) come 5-10 ha (middle class) and 20 ha (the aristocracy). In Sparta ranches were a tiny bigger on average, ranging from 18 ha because that the smaller sized ones come 44 ha because that those belonging come the wealthiest citizens. The poorest citizens had no land in ~ all and also so, if they had no other skills of benefit to the ar such together crafts, would certainly have worked on the soil of others for pay or leased land to work-related it themselves.

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Satyrs do Wine
Wikipedia (GNU FDL)

It is no clear if farmers constantly lived ~ above their farms or lived in the city and also travelled each day. It appears reasonable to expect there was a mixture that both approaches which was probably dependent ~ above the location of the floor inherited by an individual (i.e. The proximity to the city and also separation from other plots they owned) and also their an individual status such together being able come afford slaves (or helots in the situation of Sparta) to work the land.


The crops developed by the ancient Greeks were, the course, selected for their suitability come the Mediterranean climate. This has actually a combination of dry warm summers with mild winters giving plentiful rainfall. The irregularity of annual rainfall did median that chop failure to be a constant problem, though. Wheat crops may have failed when every 4 years and also barley plants once every ten years because of insufficient water supply. Terrain, localised weather conditions, and different soils were also factors in making some areas an ext fertile 보다 others. Indeed, together a whole, only one-fifth that Greece has arable land so press to make best use of it was high.

The most widely cultivated crop was wheat - particularly emmer (triticum dicoccum) and durum (triticum durum) – and hulled barley (hordeum vulgare). Millet to be grown in areas with better rainfall. Gruel indigenous barley and barley-cakes were an ext common 보다 bread made from wheat. Pulses to be grown such as large beans, chickpeas, and lentils. Vines to do wine and olives to create oil perfect the four main species of crops in the Greek world. Fruit (e.g. Figs, apples, pears, pomegranates, quinces, and medlars), vegetables (e.g. Cucumbers, onions, garlic, and salads) and also nuts (e.g. Almonds and walnuts) to be grown by countless private households.


Crop Management

Ploughing and sowing was brought out in October-November-December. It is interesting to keep in mind that there to be no distracting spiritual festivals or documents of Assembly meetings in Athens throughout this an important and liven period. Vines to be pruned back in the beforehand spring, and grain harvested in May-June. Winnowing, threshing, and storage were excellent in June-July when grapes to be gathered and also made right into wine and figs gathered in September. In the fall olives were harvested and pressed right into oil. During the winter part hardier crops were sown and fields maintained.

There is evidence of crop rotation, and also fields to be left fallow to allow soil nutrient to regenerate and also moisture to develop up. In much more pressing time some fields would have been used continuously transparent the year or planted through multiple plants at the exact same time. Such crops as beans and also lentils were also grown and also reploughed earlier into the field to re-fertilise it or weeds could be left to grow as food because that grazing animals. Small plots supplied for cultivation fruit and vegetables would have been irrigated with small water channels and also cisterns. Trenches, if work were available, to be dug roughly trees to host precious rainwater for wherein it was most needed.

Equipment provided in Greek agriculture was basic with digging, weeding, and also multiple ploughing done by hand using wooden or iron-tipped ploughs, mattocks, and also hoes (there to be no spades). Richer farmers had actually oxen to help plough their fields. Sickles were provided to harvest crops, i beg your pardon were then winnowed utilizing a flat shovel and baskets. Seed were climate threshed on a rock floor which was trampled on by breed cub (and which might likewise have dragged sledges because that the function too). Grapes to be crushed underfoot in vats while olives to be crushed in stone presses.

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Fish Plate
Lucas (CC BY-NC-SA)

Animal Husbandry

The old Greeks did not manage large herds the livestock because that the purposes of producing a saleable surplus and also specialised pastoralism, v its necessity to seasonally move animals between pastures in various climate area (transhumance), is not tape-recorded until the Classical period in Greece. However, many private family members would have kept a small variety of animals, probably no more than 50 in a herd would have been the norm. These included sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, and some cattle. Lock were advantageous for your meat, milk to do cheese (it was hardly ever drunk), eggs, wool or leather, and to fertilise crops. Pets were reared in higher numbers wherein the neighborhood terrain was not perfect for agriculture. This animals, besides having accessibility to normally occurring areas of grazing, to be fed fodder the chaff and also straw, stalks of vegetables plants, fallen and also damaged fruit, and also the residues of grapes and also olives ~ pressing. Horses, mules, and also donkeys were additionally reared for transport.

Trade the Foodstuffs

Most farmer would have only developed sufficient foodstuffs for their own family"s needs yet they would have actually bartered surplus create for day-to-day necessities and foodstuffs they go not develop themselves such as cheese, honey, fish, and also shellfish. Few of the wealthier citizen with larger plots did absolutely produce cash crops which they might sell in mass at markets. Farming products traded within Greece between citizens at markets and also different cities included cereals, wine, olives, figs, pulses, eels, cheese, honey, and also meat (especially indigenous sheep and also goats). From the fifth century BCE, Athens" port of Piraeus came to be the most important trading centre in the Mediterranean and gained a reputation as the location to find any type of items on the market.


Greek seller ships plied the Mediterranean and also exported products to such areas as Egypt, Magna Graecia, and Asia Minor. Foodstuff exports consisted of wine, particularly from Aegean islands like Mende and also Kos, olives and also olive oil (transported, prefer wine, in amphorae). Byproducts such as hides were exported too, particularly from Euboea. Many Greek city-states continued to duty as crucial trade centres throughout the Hellenistic and Roman periods, particularly the free-trade ports of Athens, Delos, and also Rhodes.

State Intervention

The joining of the state in trade and the sale of farming products was fairly limited; however, a notable exemption was grain, imported indigenous Egypt and the black color Sea area, to ensure the in times of drought populaces did not starve. Because that example, so vital was it to feed Athens" big population that profession in wheat was controlled and purchased by a distinct "grain buyer" (sitones). Native c. 470 BCE the obstruction of the import of grain to be prohibited, as was the re-exportation of it; for offenders the punishment was the fatality penalty.

Market officials (agoranomoi) ensured the top quality of items on sale in the markets and grain had actually its own supervisors, the sitophylakes, that regulated the prices and also quantities were correct. Although city-states did regularly impose taxes on the motion of goods and levies on imports and also exports at ports, there were also measures taken to defend internal profession and an ext heavily tax products which were destined for, or come in from, areas outside Greece. Over there were likewise trade incentives such together on Thasos come encourage the export of your high-quality wine.

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Mark is a history writer based in Italy. His one-of-a-kind interests encompass pottery, architecture, people mythology and discovering the concepts that all worlds share in common. The holds one MA in political Philosophy and also is the posting Director at WHE.