Rural Economy

  • Created by: Ruthfeath
  • Created on: 19-05-18 09:12
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  • Rural Economy
    • Greek Landscape
      • Coastal marshes & extensive forests
      • Greater variety of wildlife - hares, red deer, roe deer, turtles, wild boars
      • Hills with vast amounts of oak wood and other trees, such as pine, olive & fig
    • Agricultural Society
      • Most Mycenaeans involved in highly organised agriculture
      • Majority of people lived in rural areas
      • Towns relied on countryside for food, labour & materials, as well as for political & military support
      • Linear B records deliveries of wool to palaces - wool production in countryside important
      • Flax also an important crop, tablets record huge quantities of olive oil being produced
      • Majority of crops consumed locally for subsistence, but large surpluses were being produced for exporting
    • Food Production
      • Cereals were staple crops
      • Rations given out to workers as form of payment - particularly barley
        • Female slaves of Pylos also seem to have been given figs
      • Wheat & barley were an important crop
      • Meals made interesting with spices & herbs - coriander, mint, basil, olive oil
      • Wild foods also consumed - almonds, cherries, pistachios
      • Large surplus of olive oil for export - major source of wealth
      • Vines grown for wine production
      • Perfume makers likely to have worked out of the villages - high-status craft
      • Flax fields worked by slave women, large quantities given to army to use for linen in clothes or sails
        • Many people involved in processing flax - at Pylos, 200 women recorded as making cloth
      • Farming must have been full-time activity for many - surplus of crops allowed emergence of full time specialist craft workers & development of town life
    • Intensive Farming
      • Lake Copais drained when citadel of Gla built on an island above what had been shallow water & swamp
      • Drained land was converted to farmland & cultivated
      • Drainage of lake was major job - series of look-out posts & forts built to overlook & protect the plain
      • Gla was perhaps the headquarters of officials responsible for managing & maintaining the agricultural system
    • Animal-Rearing
      • Oxen widely reared - used in small numbers in each agricultural community
        • Pylos tablets record that 234 oxhides were provided every year by the countryside to the palace
      • Majority of food eaten locally - not entered the palaces or their records
        • Limited amount of produce recorded by tablets
      • Cattle often used for sacrifice - not all reared for economic reasons
      • Horses only associated with the elite
        • First representations of horses appear on the grave stones for shaft graves, harnessed to chariots
        • Horse harnesses also often shown in frescoes
        • Horse trading may have been a major source of great wealth in the Argolid
      • Goats kept for their hair, meat & milk, which was made into cheese
      • Pigs reared & used for meat & other products such as leather
    • Hunting
      • Wild boar hunted - between 30-70 boars' tusks needed to make boars' tusk helmet, which must have been a prestige object
      • Elite seem to have loved hunting from chariot or on foot, often with packs of dogs - dogs showed in frescoes
      • Hunting produced food from variety of animals -  deer, hare, duck, goose
      • Lion hunting was also a dangerous sport - bones of lions found at Tiryns & Kastanas
      • Boar Hunt Fresco, Tiryns
      • Untitled
    • Houses
      • Usually simple rectangular structures with stone footings, mudbrick walls & ridge roofs - they had a single door at one end
      • Developed into an apsidal design - had semi-circular annex at inner end, partitioned off to make sleeping area
        • Often an open porch at the entrance
        • Small triangular windows made into the walls
      • Ridge roofs of ordinary houses were probably covered with brushwood smeared with wet clay - higher status building were probably tiled
      • People lived in small villages & large areas of Greece must have had this dispersed settlement - foothills of mountains were popular locations
    • Association with palace centres
      • Complex system of assessment used to determine how much of each product was owed to the urban centres
      • Palace centres seemed to have wanted particular products more, such as wool, wheat barley & oil - they were seen as taxes to the palace centres & were called offerings
      • Not certain if the administrators in the palace centres controlled all the agricultural  production but it is  likely that they only controlled a small part with the majority consumed in the countryside
    • Economy in the palaces
      • Significant proportion of the economy revolved around the palace centres
      • Each centre had one of these complexes which contained its own internal economy
      • Palaces also involved in number of prestige activities including providing food for festivals, exports, gifts to local elites & offerings to the gods
        • At least 8,500 pottery vessels were in use at the Pylos palace and one room off the main court contained 600 drinking cups

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